News

Oversized vehicles may get kicked out of neighborhoods

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Federal Way officials are changing city code to keep most commercial vehicles out of residential neighborhoods while not penalizing recreational vehicles or boats.

This is welcome news for Marie Sciacqua.

Sciacqua lives in a quiet, residential cul-de-sac where tall, dark-green trees grow near the lightly-colored wood-frame houses with garages and mowed lawns or landscaping. Many of the residents park in their driveways or on the curving street.

Sciacqua’s neighbor drives a tow truck that is longer than the city’s 22-foot length limitation, but isn’t taller than the nine-foot height limit. Because of that, he’s allowed to park the truck in the cul-de-sac.

But Sciacqua said even though the truck is allowed to park in the neighborhood, it still presents a safety hazard. She said she can’t see around it when she pulls out of her driveway and that bothers her, particularly considering the number of little kids who live in the neighborhood.

Emergency vehicles might have a hard time getting into the cul-de-sac and turning around with the tow truck parked on the street, she added.

Besides, she said, a commercial vehicle doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood.

City code currently governs vehicles that are both taller than nine feet and longer than 22 feet.

But city code doesn’t penalize commercial vehicles longer than 22 feet but not higher than nine feet, nor does it address vehicles higher than nine feet but not longer than 22 feet. “A lot of commercial vehicles don’t exceed both,” code enforcement officer Martin Nordby said.

The regulations also didn’t take into account vehicles that were neither longer than 22 feet nor higher than nine feet, but that were obviously used for commercial purposes and had no place being parked on lots in residential areas.

According to a staff report presented to the City Council’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee last month, Nordby has been receiving complaints from citizens for years about neighbors parking commercial vehicles in residential areas.

But, because of the blanket language in the code, some RVs, motor homes or other recreational vehicles were eligible for penalization because they met the 9-foot-by-22-foot guideline.

To remedy the flaws, city officials decided to look at the gross weight and use of the vehicle, rather than just height and length, and revise the language.

Under the proposed new code, a commercial vehicle that wouldn’t be allowed to park on a residential lot would be “any truck over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating, the principal use of which is the transportation of commodities, vehicles, merchandise, produce, freight or animals; or bulldozers, backhoes, cranes and similar construction equipment.”

The code allows commercial vehicles like pick-up-sized tow trucks, where the operator frequently has to work on-call during the night, and recreational and utility vehicles and boats less than 28 feet in length.

Recreational or utility vehicles or boats longer than 28 feet can be parked at a residence if they aren’t parked in the driveway and aren’t visible from the public right-of-way.

Sciacqua is pleased with the proposed changes to the code and said officials were helpful in getting a resolution to the issue. The City Council will vote on the changes at its Sept. 2 regular meeting.

Sciacqua thinks the new rules will make neighborhoods safer and more attractive.

“It’s ugly having a thing like this parked in front of your house,” she said. “It’s making property values go down.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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