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Mail delivery on Altamont gets blocked by parked cars

School-related parking on Altamont Street prevents mail delivery some days. (Pia Hallenberg)
School-related parking on Altamont Street prevents mail delivery some days. (Pia Hallenberg)

Pam Danner is tired of not getting her mail. She has lived on North Altamont Street, just west of Arlington Elementary School, since the mid-’90s and for about as long she’s been battling parents who park in front of her mailbox and block delivery.

“I am just so frustrated, I don’t know what to do,” said Danner, standing on her front porch last Wednesday, as parents were waiting in cars for their children to be let out of school. “I’ve been out here chasing people away since school started. It’s the same every year.”

Most of the Arlington pick-up and drop-off activity is on Smith Street on the east side of the school, where there’s a turnout for parents to use and street parking is clearly restricted. That leaves neighbors’ mailboxes and driveways open.

But about 15 minutes before the last bell, a couple of school buses park to the west of Arlington’s sports field, on Altamont.

Then parents start arriving, parking farther north, in front of Danner’s house. And that’s when the mail arrives.

Most parents park in between the clusters of mailboxes, but even that leaves little or no room for the mail van.

If the mail carrier was walking this wouldn’t be a big deal, but Altamont is a rural route north of Francis so the mail is delivered by car.

Last Wednesday, the carrier could barely squeeze the delivery van in between parked cars, but succeeded after a few attempts. If the carrier can’t reach the mailbox from the car, Danner doesn’t get her mail.

“I’m down to getting my mail two or three times a week, at the most,” said Danner. “And only if I’m out here, asking people to move their cars when the mail gets here.”

Back in 2009, Danner put up a homemade “no parking” sign on her mailboxes and painted the curb yellow to discourage parking.

She then got a letter from the Spokane Street Department telling her to remove both or she’d be fined.

Ann Deasy, public information coordinator with the city, said the street department is well aware of the issue and has surveyed that part of Altamont Street more than once but found no reason to change signage.

“Painting the curb is considered vandalism by city ordinance; she can’t do that,” Deasy said. “She can put up a no parking sign on her own private property, but she can’t put up signs in the public right-of-way.”

Arlington Principal Sue Unruh sends parking reminders home with kids and in newsletters.

Staff at the school also uses the intercom to find a parent who may have parked in front of a driveway or a mailbox.

However, Unruh said she has not received a parking complaint from neighbors on the Altamont side of the school.

One solution to Danner’s problem would be to change the mail carrier’s route so it doesn’t coincide with children being let out of school, and the Spokane postmaster is currently looking into that.

Changing the parking designation on Danner’s block is a bit more complicated.

“It’s my understanding that her neighbors would have to agree to remove parking on the entire street for that to work out,” Deasy said.

When Danner attempted to gather all the signatures for a permanent parking change, one neighbor wouldn’t sign the paperwork, she said.

“It’s a long block and this is someone who doesn’t live right here where the problem is,” Danner said. “I wish people could be a little considerate, but I don’t know what to do. I just want my mail.”