New West Richland parking rules being enforced

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 2, 2013 

RVs, utility trailers and extra cars stored, unmoving, on West Richland's streets are going to have to get a move on.

Ordinances governing parking were recently updated, making it illegal to use city streets for vehicle storage, yet few residents seem to be aware of the changes, based on a random survey by a Herald reporter.

West Richland Police Chief Brian McElroy said his officers have been enforcing the new ordinances since they were approved by the city council in December.

To educate residents, officers have brightly colored tags explaining the violation they can hang or attach to the vehicle or trailer. When possible, they contact the owner or resident.

Utility bills mailed in December included a pink flier with a summary of the parking law changes.

Dick Watts didn't see the pink flier, but did notice when his neighbor moved her yellow Toyota pickup from the street to an empty lot next to her house.

"When I sat out on my deck it was always right there. I asked her why she moved it after leaving it parked for months and she said that it was against the law to leave a car parked on the street for more than seven days. She'd read about it in this," Watts said, tapping his finger on a copy of the flier.

"I wasn't going to complain but, frankly, changing the law is a pretty good deal," Watts said.

McElroy said the word is getting out.

Residents are policing their neighborhoods and calling in infractions to the police department's nonemergency dispatch number at 628-0333.

"In my driving around town ,I've noticed the number of trailers parked in the roadway has diminished; owners are being proactive," he said.

Most of the complaints have been about multiple unused cars parked in the roadway, McElroy said. Any vehicle on the road must be licensed and operable.

Neighbors also are irked about people storing RVs, boats, and flat-bed and utility trailers in the streets for months on end.

Officers respond to complaints as they can, McElroy said. They'll stop and address issues if they spot them, such as if the vehicle is leaking oil or other fluids that cause damage to the road.

Jon Dean, who lives in the Mountain View development in West Richland, said there haven't been any parking problems in his neighborhood.

Reading the parking law changes, Dean said, "they're good for the most part. I understand the one about parking in the cul de sacs."

Under the new law, cars must be parked parallel to the curb, not nose first.

"That's fine until the street sweeper comes. City vehicles need to be able to get in and out," Dean said.

The updated ordinances could be a problem for some residents, because there are very few places in town to store excess vehicles or trailers.

A quick check of the three RV parks in West Richland revealed there's no room for storage at two.

Otilia Madrigal, resident manager at RV Village Resort, said she has about 10 spaces available, but will need those later in the spring for travelers passing through.

At RV Supply Specialties, owner Mark Lowe has been busy fielding calls from people looking to store theirRVs.

"It's been unbelievable the amount of people calling. I've probably had more calls in the last two months than I've ever had in the 10 years or so I've been here," Lowe said.

"I'm not able to help right now, but I own the lot next door and starting Monday I'm putting up a fence to turn it into a storage lot. It should be ready in about two months," Lowe said.

Some of the changes to West Richland parking code:

w Vehicles cannot remain parked on the street for more than seven consecutive days.

w Commercial vehicles longer than 24 feet, with a gross weight of 12,000 or more pounds and wider than 8 feet 6 inches can't be parked on the street. Loading and unloading is permitted but that process can't take longer than 12 hours in any 24-hour period.

w No parking is allowed at all on South 39th Avenue from Grant Street, north for 250 feet.

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