Planning Board public hearing Wednesday to address vehicle parking restrictions in residential zones

A line of vehicles on Sierra Street in the Maplewood neighborhood represents the "overflow" from vehicles stored in the driveway and front yard of the residence in the 20400 block of Maplewood Drive.
A line of vehicles on Sierra Street in the Maplewood neighborhood represent the “overflow” from vehicles stored in the driveway and front yard of the residence in the 20300 block of Maplewood Drive.
The Edmonds Planning Board this Wednesday, Nov. 18 will hold a public hearing on possible changes to the city code that governs parking in residential neighborhoods. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers.

At issue are various situations around the city where residents keep multiple vehicles in their driveways and parked in the public right-of-way. One of these is in the Maplewood neighborhood, where a resident living in the 20300 block of Maplewood Drive has raised neighborhood concerns by 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.

Neighbor John Espinola has lived in his home for more than eight years, has two young children and is concerned about pedestrian safety, toxic runoff and fumes, and neighborhood aesthetics.

“It’s definitely gotten worse in the time I’ve lived here,” Espinola said. “When we first moved in, there were a few cars in the front yard, but it’s really deteriorated in the last year or two. Now they spill out onto Maplewood Drive and around the corner onto Sierra Street, where five or six are routinely parked. It really looks junky.”

Maplewood residents have voiced concerns about pedestrian safety hazards created by vehicles routinely parked on both sides of the busy Maplewood Drive.
Maplewood residents have voiced concerns about pedestrian safety hazards created by vehicles routinely parked on both sides of the busy Maplewood Drive.
Maplewood Drive is a main thoroughfare, heavily used by vehicles and pedestrians. With vehicles closely parked on both sides of the street, pedestrians are forced to walk a hazardous gauntlet as they share a narrow space with passing cars and trucks. Espinola describes it as “an accident waiting to happen.”

In addition, Espinola expressed concerns about toxic fumes from chemicals used during car repairs conducted at the residence, relating numerous situations where he “had to shut his windows” to avoid chemical fumes coming into his home. “I’m also concerned about this getting into our stormwater runoff and having adverse effects on salmon and other Puget Sound life,” he added.

My Edmonds News attempted to contact the owner of these vehicles by phone and left a message with a member of the household, but didn’t receive a return phone call.

The existing code for residential parking is contained in Chapter 17.60 ECDC. A preliminary draft ordinance to amend this code was discussed by the Planning Board at its Oct. 28 meeting.

Below are several key concerns about the existing code, and suggested solutions proposed in the draft code:

Number of vehicles:
Many households depend on some vehicle parking on their front driveway. However, when too many vehicles are parked or stored in the front yard of a single-family residence, the area looks like a parking lot.
• The existing code prohibits the parking of more than five vehicles in the front yards of single-family lots with certain exceptions, but does not specify whether that would apply only to vehicles parked outdoors or would include vehicles parked in a garage.
• The proposed code amendment would prohibit the parking of more than four vehicles in the front yards of single-family lots with certain exceptions, but would specify that the restriction applies only outdoors.

Amount of impervious surface:
Impervious surfaces—especially impervious surfaces used by motor vehicles—cause stormwater runoff problems.
• The existing code does not limit the area of impervious surface for outdoor parking on single-family lots.
• The proposed code amendment would restrict the amount of impervious surface for outdoor parking in the front yards of single-family lots. It would do so by not allowing impervious parking surfaces to take up more than 50 percent of the front yard. Also single-family driveways would be limited to 24 feet wide for two-car garages or 30 feet wide for three-car garages, with certain exceptions. This restriction would not preclude additional stormwater management measures from a more comprehensive stormwater code update process in 2016.

Car repair:
For most households, occasional vehicle repair in the front yard does not constitute a neighborhood problem. But in a few neighborhoods, car repair activities can look like a business, even when there is no evidence of a business, and operate many hours of the day.
• The existing code limits outdoor car repairs on single-family residential lots but is not clear about some details.
• The proposed code amendment would add the following limits:
(a) Outdoor car repair would be only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
(b) The storage of vehicle parts must be either in an enclosed structure or screened from public view.

Note that these concerns relate to vehicles parked in driveways and yards, and not on residential streets.

Shane Hope, Edmonds Development Services Director, says she is “aware of the street parking problem,” in the Maplewood neighborhood. She points out that current statutes allow vehicles to be parked on residential streets for a maximum of 72 hours, and “while police have ticketed these cars on occasion,” the owner keeps moving them just enough to stay within the letter of the law. According to city officials, the street parking issue is expected to be addressed soon by a “different proposal from the police department.”

After the Nov. 18 public hearing, the Planning Board hopes to make a recommendation to the Edmonds City Council.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

11 Replies to “Planning Board public hearing Wednesday to address vehicle parking restrictions in residential zones”

  1. I’ve noticed a trend on this webpage of photographing third party subjects property when a news story has an axe to grind. Most citizens would not enjoy having photographs of their property, their trees, their whatever, published just because someone objects to how they live.

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  2. There are zoning restriction in residential neighborhoods. The situation on Maplewood has gone on for years and the City has not been able to enforce existing codes. The solution is not new parking codes ( there really isn’t a problem in this neighborhood). How will the proposed new codes be enforced? Against whom? The one problem that is highlighted in this article ( and is there any need for pictures?) is one the City has not been able to effectively deal with. That is the problem, and HOA style parking codes aren’t the solution.

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    1. I don’t understand the picture comment, but I completely agree that the city simply needs to enforce the current codes. Most code enforcement is done passively (i.e. wait until a formal complaint is filed and then go look at it), even though many violations can be observed by simply driving through neighborhoods. If current code isn’t enforced, changing it is a waste of time/money.

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  3. There have been a couple cars parked at the side of a property along 232nd ST SW (between 92nd and 94th) for years. The cars are partially hidden by shrubbery. They definitely aren’t driven and I don’t even know if anyone lives in the house. What can be done about these cars?

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  4. In my experience, I have read city codes on the city website and then called to file a complaint. I feel like it’s time for Edmonds to hire a code enforcement officier. Oh my gosh, I hope we don’t already have one, that would be disgraceful. Maybe we need to hire more code enforcement officers in that case?

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  5. i think I read its 72 hours and then they have to move it should be 48 hours and then gone not just move a block are we talking about parking violatiions or building codes the animal control officer tales care of parking but I think thats in the 3 hour zones

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  6. Is it really that hard to have common sense and be a good neighbor? Guess so. Does somebody really think it’s okay to park 12-15 vehicles in their yard and in front of their neighbors’ houses? Trash. Although I think I’d rather have the junkyard than the neighbors behind us who have three pocket rats with ear-splitting barks that they put out at 5:45 a.m. and any other time of the day and night to yap for hours and destroy the neighborhood peace.

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  7. You can always call the cops about those barking dogs they go to work and put the dogs out well they can buy bark collars or leave the dogs inside and buy a shovel an airhorn at about 100 am would work pretty good theres always ways to get even did you ask the neighbors when there going to move

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  8. Called the cops and animal control several times. Animal control can just drive by and hear the pocket rats yapping, but they tell me I have to put together a series of videos of the dogs barking to prove they are a “chronic problem” before they’ll even talk to the offending dog owner. Who has time to stand at their fence and video their neighbors for a week? They won’t buy a bark collar because that might “hurt” their little darlings. Like a lot of people, their doggies are their surrogate babies who have rights that are more important then human beings.

    In my younger days I lived next to crack dealers in Seattle who were better neighbors than these people.

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