Spokane residents now have three days to leave their cars in front of their homes without risking a parking ticket, after the Spokane City Council loosened parking restrictions Monday night.
Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who sponsored the ordinance, said the time extension will guarantee that people who leave their car parked in front of their home for a few days won’t get a parking ticket.
People living in residential areas also usually only get parking tickets if someone calls the city to complain about them.
“If you don’t like your neighbor, and you’re prone to want to get them in trouble,” Stratton said, “under the old law, you could call.”
She said West Central, or other neighborhoods with narrow alleys and streets, have had residential parking issues for years, and street parking could get even more crowded as more young families move into the neighborhood.
Councilman Breean Beggs said many of the people leaving their cars in front of their homes for days might be elderly, have a disability, or be commuting to work by bus, or in other ways.
“Most of the conflicts we run into have been neighbors just not getting along with each other,” he said. “Government shouldn’t come in very often to do that and people need to work together and have some consideration of the needs.”
According to parking data from the Municipal court system from 2016, fewer than 5% of parking violations were for parking for more than 24 hours. In 2015, it was less than 4%. Most parking tickets were for meter parking, or illegally blocking a driveway, crosswalk, fire hydrant or parking too close to an intersection.
Stratton said parking activities that were previously prohibited, such as living in a vehicle or parking the wrong way, are still against the law. She said residents don’t have to wait three days to report a vehicle that is parked illegally.
Stratton’s earlier proposals, which Mayor David Condon opposed, also included extending RV’s and other recreational vehicle’s parking time limits. The ordinance the council unanimously approved Monday however, will only affect passenger vehicles.
Stratton said she hoped for broader parking time limit extensions, but she didn’t have the support.
Neighborhood parking permits have been used successfully in other cities, such as Washington D.C., Stratton said, and she hopes they could be used in Spokane. She said she was concerned however, that some might not be able to afford a permit to park in their own neighborhood, and would want a system where a resident could get one or two parking passes for free.
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