Spokane County commissioners will take public testimony Tuesday on numerous parking restrictions proposed for unincorporated areas around Liberty Lake.
Commissioners say the restrictions were proposed by the Spokane Valley Fire Department for safety reasons. In most cases, parking would be banned only on the paved portion of roadways, but no parking at all would be allowed in three areas.
Fire Marshal Kevin Miller said the impetus for the parking restrictions was an incident on Independence Day in 2005. A man suffered a heart attack on a dock, “and our firefighters had a heck of a time getting there,” he said.
About 10 minutes after that, Miller said, a fireworks barge exploded and firefighters had to worm their way through an alternate route. The roads were so narrow that firefighters couldn’t get past the truck that responded to the heart attack.
Since then, the fire department has restricted parking with temporary barriers on holidays, but Miller said the problem isn’t limited to holiday weekends.
“Every summer weekend, people park where they shouldn’t and you just can’t get around,” Miller said. “If it’s narrow on the Fourth of July, it’s narrow every day.”
He said some of the streets apparently were established as alleys in horse-and-buggy days.
“You just can’t get down them,” Miller said. “If you’ve got a 12-foot road and somebody’s encroaching on the paved surface at all, you can’t get a fire truck through there.”
A fire truck is 11 feet wide, mirror to mirror, he said.
Jim Lashbrook, who has lived almost 20 years next to the public boat launch on Third Avenue, thinks the restrictions are a good idea. He said the roadway leading to the boat launch is very narrow and has almost no shoulders.
“You cannot get anything much bigger than a golf cart through there if people are parking on both sides,” Lashbrook said.
He thinks most boaters are considerate and people who live in the area expect some traffic congestion in the summer, but public safety justifies the parking restrictions.
“I wouldn’t want to be the one sitting there with a medical problem and they can’t get to me,” he said.
The restrictions wouldn’t apply to parking spaces residents have carved out of their lawns. In many cases, parking also would be allowed on unpaved portions of the public right of way.