Parking reg exemptions scrutinized

The offer of exemptions has done little to placate those infuriated by Port Orchard’s recently passed ban on boat and RV street parking.

Since the city started enforcing the ban in October, the City Council has officially reviewed eight requests for exemptions.

Of those, only two have been approved — four more have been denied and two await decision.

Those who filed the requests, however, are just as frustrated by the exemption request process as they were by the ordinance itself. None have heard officially from the city yet, even though the requests were processed Nov. 24. Only one applicant — Dwight Street resident Jim Young — was told anything, and he said he got the news unofficially.

His application was one of the two approved.

“I haven’t got it in writing, but I talked to some council people,” Young said. “It seems to me the entire process was an exercise in futility.”

Young, who owns a fifth-wheel camper, said he couldn’t be too upset with the exemption-award system, since he got what he asked for. Nevertheless, he said he didn’t see the point of making citizens go through the hassle of applying for permission to do what they’ve always been doing. Young said he saw the whole ordinance as a very complicated way to manage eight people — those who are known to have applied for exemptions thus far.

Two Perry Avenue residents — Stephen Brown and Jayne Strader — are furious with the city for threatening to run them off their street.

“I think it sucks,” Strader said. “We can’t put a $40,000 fifth-wheel in storage. They’re nickel-and-diming us to death.”

Strader said her primary concern lies in preserving her and her husband’s investment. Their brief experience with a storage yard, she said, turned them off for good. After a winter of rain, Strader said, their trailer came out severely moisture-damaged.

Now, she said, they take the precaution of parking their trailer close to their home and keeping it plugged in at all times.

In addition, Strader said, with the recent increases in storage rates — increases she said are directly related to the council’s new parking ban — it’s cheaper to get ticketed than it is to pay to store a trailer.

“We’re going to fight (the ordinance),” Strader dais. “We’ll get an attorney if (the request) doesn’t go through and we’ll fight it all the way.”

Brown, who put in three applications — one for each boat and one for his pickup camper — said he didn’t understand why the city was picking on recreational vehicles. He said he keeps his “toys” parked further off the street than most cars in the area, and the city’s new rule has made it effectively impossible for him to continue his hobby of boat restoration and repair.

“It looks like I’m going to have to give it up because there’s nothing I can do with them,” Brown said. “It’s just unbelievable — this is a boating community.”

Although the council has not yet restricted the number of boats and RVs allowed on a resident’s property — such a measure was discussed earlier this year, then back-burnered — Brown said for residents like him, the loophole doesn’t matter.

Perry, like its neighboring streets, is set back into a hillside. Even if people wanted to get their vehicles off the street, he pointed out, there’s little they can do.

“I’m sure most of the people on this hill aren’t willing to spend $10,000 to dig a hole in the side of the hill to make a parking pad,” Brown said.

City Councilman Don Morrison, who chairs the street committee and who sponsored the parking ordinance, said the issues addressed by the ban go beyond aesthetics and convenience. Perry Avenue is a narrow road, Morrison said, and an excess of recreational vehicles clog the right-of-way and impede emergency access.

He said, by and large, he has been pleased with the ordinance’s effect on the city’s rights-of-way and has heard very little negative feedback form residents.

“In a couple of areas where encroachment was an issue, I think this has been cleaning things up,” Morrison said.

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