The Edmonds Planning Board Wednesday night unanimously agreed to recommend that the Edmonds City Council adopt amendments to the city code aimed at addressing multiple vehicles parked on city streets.
The amendment to Chapter 17.60 ECDC would prohibit on a single-family lot the parking of more than four vehicles outdoors in the front yard, and it would also restrict the amount of impervious surface (such as asphalt or concrete) to no more than 50 percent of the front yard. The current code limits parking to five vehicles total on the property of a single-family home, regardless of whether they are located inside a garage, in a driveway or anywhere in the yard, City Development Director Shane Hope explained.
The recommendation is aimed at various situations around the city where residents keep multiple vehicles in their driveways and also parked in the public right-of-way. During a public hearing prior to the Planning Board decision, several people testified about one particular situation in the Maplewood neighborhood, where a resident is maintaining between 12 and 15 vehicles in various states of repair parked on his property and in the public rights-of-way on both Maplewood Drive and Sierra Street.
Neighbors have complained that there hasn’t been enough parking enforcement to address the problem. City officials have noted that current statutes allow vehicles to be parked on residential streets for a maximum of 72 hours, and the owner keeps moving them just enough to stay within the letter of the law.
John Espinola, who lives in the neighborhood, said the vehicles “obstruct the right of way, they contribute to safety issues with kids walking to school in the dark at this time of year… and also my neighbors and myself trying to walk safely through the neighborhood.”
He also told the board that while he appreciated the city’s effort to address the issue, he worries that the proposed amendment would actually make the situation worse by pushing more cars from the yard into the street.
“I think that the city could do a better job of enforcing it’s parking code,” Espinola said. “There are abusive practices where a car is moved, two cars are swapped from one spot to another and therefore can bypass the three-day parking rule. And we should find a solution to that.”
Espinola proposed that a system of citizen reporting be implemented, similar to what is now in place for HOV violations and people who cut into ferry lines. “It’s incumbent upon the violator to prove they didn’t violate,” he said.
Hope, who appeared at the meeting with Assistant Police Chief Jim Lawless, acknowledged that the change in the development code being considered by the Planning Board only applies to driveways and yards. But she added that development services and the police have been working together to develop a solution aimed at both the property and parking enforcement.
The police department has developed a separate proposal “specifically dealing with the number of vehicles that can be parked in a public right of way — i.e the street — registered to any particular residence and within a defined distance of that residence,” Lawless said. The goal is to come up with a “holistic plan” that balances the rights of property owners and neighborhood concerns, and that also holds up if it is challenged in court, he added.
Now that the Planning Board has made its recommendation to amend the ordinance, the next step is for the combined development services/police department proposal to come before City Council for its consideration.