The lure of the cool waters of the Yakima River on a hot day continues to draw plenty of people and their vehicles to West Richland, but it's also continuing to cause angst among nearby property owners complaining of littering and illegal parking.
Numerous residents along Butte Court in West Richland recently complained to the city about "unruly rafters" disrupting their "quality of life within the neighborhood," according to city documents.
That's why the West Richland City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to install "no parking" signs on the city's right of way on the east side of the street along the Yakima River.
Police Chief Brian McElroy met with residents of Butte Court last month to discuss the problem of parking on the narrow, dead-end street and the litter being scattered along the river bank.
The council also voted to place a trash container at the end of Butte Court, put up "no littering" signs and to allow only nose-in parking at the end of the street.
"Without adequate signage, it's too difficult to enforce the problem of people parking haphazardly and using both sides of the street so residents couldn't park in front of their homes," McElroy said.
With passage of the new ordinance, the city will order the new "no parking" signs and add striping for the few parking spaces at the end of the street.
"The signs should be here within two weeks. They won't solve the whole problem but should help mitigate it," the chief said.
With the signs in place, West Richland officers will be able to enforce the city's parking ordinances.
Mark Rauch lives on Butte Court, and he said the parking, noise from the parties and litter hadn't been a problem until recently "but now -- the yelling, the garbage, the fights -- it's incredible."
Both he and his neighbor, Mark Norland, said they're happy with the city's solution.
The popularity of the Yakima River in hot weather caused a similar stir last summer in Benton County.
Residents along a placid stretch of the river near Twin Bridges Road demanded resolution during a Benton County commission meeting last year, complaining that hundreds of people in a hurry to reach the water on blistering-hot days parked helter-skelter along Grosscup Boulevard.
They said floaters carrying rafts, inner tubes and beer were ignoring "private property" and "no parking" signs while making their way through a narrow access to the water, then leaving a trail of litter on their way out.
Benton County Sheriff's deputies last summer said they wrote five to 10 parking citations a weekend and impounded a few vehicles. The county installed "no parking" signs in the area in 2011.
-- The council voted unanimously to vacate a portion of Hilltop Avenue right of way.
Council members heard comments from residents of Austin Street who are unhappy the council voted to rezone the south corner of their street where it meets Bombing Range Road from residential to commercial.
Many of the Austin Street residents, including Dan Richey, are concerned about increased traffic on their street, which is narrow and has no street lights, sidewalks or curbing.
"It doesn't even have a center stripe," said Ed Coyne, adding that he believed the rezoning was done simply to accommodate the hardware store Charles Grigg wants to build on the site.