The Valley is preparing to take another look at restricting commercial trucks in residential neighborhoods.
Mayor Dean Grafos wants a proposed ordinance drafted for future City Council consideration that would prohibit semitrucks from parking on residential streets but would allow at least one commercial rig under 20-feet on private property. Grafos said it would enable commercial truck drivers who want to take their tractor-rigs home with them to continue doing so if they can fit in the driveway, for example, or alongside their home instead of in the street disrupting neighborhood views.
“If he can park his tractor in his driveway … then it’s not creating a sight-view issue,” the mayor said, acknowledging that any proposal that gets introduced likely will be the subject of spirited debate among council members, neighborhood groups and others.
Numerous cities, including Spokane and Liberty Lake, already ban big commercial trucks from routinely parking on residential streets, a city survey shows. Two years ago, Spokane Valley balked at a similar ban following heated debate but did prohibit commercial trucks equipped with refrigeration units because of the constant noise they generate.
Grafos, who supported greater restrictions but was out-voted, believes it’s time to consider expanding the earlier effort. On Tuesday, the council directed city legal staff to begin drafting a proposal for consideration at some point in the future. No specific date was set but several council members said they’ll want to make sure trucking associations, neighborhoods and other interest groups are aware of the effort so they can relay their comments and concerns.
“It fits into our core value of preserving the character of residential neighborhoods,” said Councilman Ed Pace. “I’m hoping we can find a way to do a common-sense ordinance that prevents the parking of big trucks in front of homes … but also supports property rights.”
Other council members warned that reopening consideration of commercial truck restrictions could also lead to questions over regulating recreational vehicles such as travel trailers and motor homes.
“You better leave the RVs out of this one,” advised Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard.
But Pace and Councilman Bill Bates noted that the concerns prompting another look at commercial trucks are the same with motor homes and travel trailers. They said if the proposal is broadened they would want to make sure that RV associations are given the opportunity to weigh in, just as trucking associations would be on commercial vehicle restrictions.
“It’s the same thing,” Pace said. “Whether it’s commercial or private, it’s obstructing the view.”