The majority of the people in the audience at the Spokane Valley City Council meeting Tuesday night sat through almost two hours of proceedings before they got to say something about the issue they were there for: potential parking restrictions for semi-trucks on streets in residential neighborhoods.
On the agenda were two draft ordinances seeking to limit the parking of tractors and semitrailers. One draft stuck to street parking in residential neighborhoods, the other would also outlaw the parking of semitrucks and vehicles measuring more than 27 feet or weighing more than 15,000 pounds gross weight on private property in residential areas.
The council decided to take no action on the issue, after two hours of testimony that included pleas for protecting small businesses and the peace and quiet of residential neighborhoods.
Former council member Bill Gothman made a plea on behalf of retired people like himself to be able to keep their RVs at home, including parking them in the street while preparing or coming home from trips.
Semitruck owner Jim Fallis said trucks are expensive and can’t be left unsupervised.
“Things get stolen these days,” Fallis said, adding that people move to Spokane Valley to own a nice big lot and they should be able to do whatever they want to on their private property. “If people don’t like that they can move to Spokane,” Fallis said.
Semitruck owners and drivers cheered when people spoke in their favor.
Robin Olson was the first one to speak in support of parking restrictions. “Do you have to wait until a kid gets killed before you do anything?” Olson asked the council. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Dixi Engelstein followed Olson, and she said that having semitrucks parked in the neighborhood has a negative impact on property values.
“I bought my home 40 years ago,” Engelstein said. “We want to keep the values of our homes up.”
Soon the lines were clearly drawn between truckers who want their big rigs within eyesight for security and financial reasons – many said they couldn’t afford to pay for a secure overnight parking spot – and non-truckers who said the noise, traffic hazards and diesel fumes from the semitrucks are ruining their neighborhoods.
Councilman Chuck Hafner and Mayor Dean Grafos both supported a motion that staff move forward researching and formulating the more restrictive ordinance – also known as 4A – but they were overruled by a majority on the council which wanted to preserve property rights and not pass new laws.
“We are the capitol of free Washington and I can’t support anything that restricts property rights,” said Councilman Ed Pace. “I can’t support either option.”
Councilman Rod Higgins drew a loud cheer when he said he didn’t want to postpone the ordinance – he wanted to “kill it.”
After some parliamentarian discussion among the council, Driskell and city manager Mike Jackson, the proposal to proceed with the more restrictive ordinance was voted down by council members Ben Wick, Arne Woodard, Rod Higgins and Ed Pace.
Higgins then quickly made a motion to take no further action on the semitruck parking issue, and it passed with the support of the same four council members.
The only way the issue can come back up is if a council member puts it back on the agenda.
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