Do we really need boat, RV parking regs?

Port Orchard must be doing very well indeed if the most pressing problem its city council can find to address is the burning issue of whether or not there need to be restrictions on boats and recreational vehicles parked in the public streets.

Not that the discussion hasn’t struck a nerve within the community, mind you. In fact, more than a dozen residents showed up last week at a meeting of the council’s street committee to express their vocal displeasure that the city would even consider such restrictions.

As yet, nothing has been decided, and we suspect the city councilmembers are only going through this exercise in the first place to satisfy a handful of outspoken critics.

In any event, here are a few unsolicited thoughts on the city’s ongoing parking controversy.

First, we’d take all of this much more seriously if the issue in question were public safety, or even commerce. If you want to make the case, for example, that RVs and boats parked near a four-way intersection obstruct the views of oncoming vehicles, or that they make the passage of emergency vehicles, buses or even delivery trucks more difficult, that might be something worth debating.

But for the most part, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Rather, the most often-cited reason why Port Orchard needs a parking ordinance is aesthetics — the boats and RVs lined up along the simply don’t look pretty to some people. One also suspects there’s more than a little class envy at work here; people successful and affluent enough to afford an RV or boat are always an inviting target for the have-nots.

None of which makes a very compelling argument for imposing a tough new city ordinance.

In theory, City Councilman Bob Geiger is correct when he notes that parking is a privilege, not a right. But the city — as with any government — derives its powers from the consent of the governed. The streets were built in the first place with tax dollars paid out by property owners — many of whom, it seems, also own boats and RVs. And, for the moment at least, they have an expectation of parking these vehicles along the public streets

As long as doing so doesn’t create a hazard to public safety or an obstacle to navigation, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

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