News

Big wheels burnin' in trucker flap

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Some Federal Way local truck drivers are challenging a proposed change to city code that would prohibit them from parking their rigs at home, saying it unfairly singles them out while allowing other big vehicles to stay.

Federal Way resident Marci Wilson and her boyfriend both are truckers; Wilson drives locally and her boyfriend is a long-haul driver.

Wilson doesn’t have a problem with the city requiring truck drivers to park their tractors in their driveways, but said it’s not fair to single them out when recreational vehicle drivers can keep their rigs at home.

“Everybody should be able to park anything on their own personal, private property,” she said.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 2 on the proposed changes to the code, which will regulate commercial vehicles by weight and use rather than by the current 22-foot length and 9-foot height criteria.

Recreational vehicles and boats less than 28 feet long and some commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less would be allowed to park in residential areas.

Wilson said nobody should be allowed to park in the street if it blocks traffic — especially emergency vehicles — from getting in and out of the neighborhoods.

The Twin Lakes-area street on which her family lives is a gradual incline that ends in a cul-de-sac with a decorative island of trees, beauty bark and rock work in the center. Cars line the curbs near the driveways and the edges of the island.

She said the garbage collection truck could barely get through earlier because cars were blocking the road and she once saw a fire truck have to back down the hill because it couldn’t continue around the island for the same reason.

If the city wants to pass regulations to keep vehicles from blocking the streets, she said, the ordinance should be fair and include everyone.

Janelle Massingill, who grew up in the Federal Way home where she and her husband and sons now live, said there aren’t many safe, secure places in Federal Way to park a rig.

The fact that truckers own their tractors — which can cost upwards of $100,000 — makes many hesitant to leave them somewhere unsupervised.

“You don’t want to just park anywhere because they get broken into,” Massingill said. “Anything stolen we have to rebuy. That’s (her husband’s) house. That’s where he lives when he’s not at home.”

In addition to security concerns, Massengill said, transportation home from the lot is another issue truckers would have to contend with.

Her husband, a long-haul driver for 11 years, can be on the road for four weeks or more at a time. He can come home any time, day or night, and he might stay from a day to a week before he leaves again, she said. When he gets home, he parks the tractor in their driveway.

The same is true of Wilson and her boyfriend. Right now, if they get home in the middle of the night, they’ll drop off their load at a lot, drive the tractor home and park it in the driveway.

If the code changes, local truckers will have to leave their tractors at the lots and find a way home.

Truckers who can’t or don’t park in their driveways generally park at a truck stop or lot somewhere.

There is one truck stop in Federal Way, the Flying J, located on South 348th Street and Pacific Highway South, though some truck drivers park in vacant lots peppered throughout the city.

Truckers without a ride have to pay to take cabs, which can be expensive, Massengill said. Buses don’t run late or early enough to get truckers home from the truck stops in the middle of the night.

If the code changes, Massengill said, her husband might have to park at a Tacoma lot with which his company contracts. Even then, the company’s own trucks have priority, and if he gets blocked in by another rig, he can’t leave until that trucker comes back and moves it, she said.

Regardless, she said, if the code changes, her family will leave Federal Way.

She added she wished the city would try to work with commercial vehicle drivers before passing a prohibiting ordinance.

“Just let us know what we need to do. We’re willing to help, but we can’t help unless we know, ” she said. “This is what we have worked toward and should be able to keep and not have to move.”

Besides, she said, “it fits perfectly in our driveway.”

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

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