City Council cracks down on oversized vehicle parking
By ELIZABETH CELMS
Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
October 20, 2009 · Updated 12:03 PM
The City Council has approved a new ordinance on oversized vehicle parking on Mercer Island streets.
According to the new legislation, it is unlawful for any person to store an oversized vehicle — greater than 22 feet in length and 9 feet in height — on a city street. Temporary parking for unloading and loading is allowed as long as the vehicle is moved after three hours.
An exception to the law was made for boat trailers parked during busy summer weekends such as the Fourth of July, Summer Celebration and peak fishing seasons. Yet the trailers must be moved after 12 hours.
The Council’s decision comes in response to a group of North-end neighbors who petitioned the city to change Island parking laws in order to rid its neighborhood of a Winnebego Warrior. The 30-foot vehicle had been parked on S.E. 34th Street for several months, and then was moved around the corner to 79th Avenue S.E.
On Sept. 5, Resident Michael Agather approached the Council with the 23-name petition, asking Councilmembers to “amend the parking ordinance to prevent violators from avoiding penalties by making inconsequential changes in where the vehicle is parked.”
Prior to Monday’s decision, city law allowed oversized vehicles to park on Island streets for a maximum of 72 hours, after which they must be moved. However, Island residents were able to get around this law by moving their vehicles a mere 3 feet or driving them around the block and back to refresh the 72-hour law.
On Sept. 21, the City Council made its suggestions on amending the bill and turned the ordinance over to the city to draft. Staff returned to Councilmembers with four ordinance options on Oct. 19 for approval:
The first option amended the original draft ordinance to allow parking of boats and trailers that are less than 22 feet in length and less than 9 feet in height. Such boats and trailers would still be governed by all other parking restrictions and rules of the road.
The second option added an exception to address the Council’s concern regarding parking of boat trailers during busy boating days.
The third option adds an exception for parking over-length (but not over-height) vehicles in an otherwise legal parking area directly in front of the owner’s property. This allows a resident to park a long, but not tall, vehicle completely in front of his property as long as it does not cross into a neighbor’s property. The 72-hour parking rule still applies for such cases.
Finally, the city could adopt an ordinance that combines all three of these options. And that is what the Council chose last Monday.
Agather, who was present at the meeting, thanked Councilmembers for their concern and pro-active response to the issue.
“I’m speaking for neighbors and friends ... There are 29 of us, but judging after phone calls, there are a lot of people with the same type of problem,” Agather said. “[Approving a new ordinance] is an excellent way to show that something is being done to protect the residences of Islanders.”
For more information on oversized vehicle parking laws, visit www.mercergov.org.