Puyallup Herald

Only in the world of Puyallup parking could Taco Bell be considered a ‘resident’

Businesses claim residential parking permits in Puyallup

More than twenty percent of Puyallup's residential parking permits is held by businesses, the city and even churches. Businesses are supposed to apply and park in designated lots, the city said.
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More than twenty percent of Puyallup's residential parking permits is held by businesses, the city and even churches. Businesses are supposed to apply and park in designated lots, the city said.

Colonel Sanders apparently resides in Puyallup, because Kentucky Fried Chicken holds a downtown residential parking permit, as do business offices, churches and the city itself.

More than 20 percent of the 456 residential parking permits issued by the city are held by businesses, churches or the government, according to data obtained by The Puyallup Herald. The city said the residential permits it holds are for use for workers at the fire station.

City rules state residential parking permits are explicitly for downtown residents. The free permits are meant for people who reside along streets with timed parking.

Business parking permits allow employees and owners, church workers and school employees to park in designated lots: 2nd Street Southeast and East Pioneer Street, 3rd Street Southwest and West Pioneer Street, 2nd Street Southeast and East Main Street. The lots have 111 spots totals, some of which are still available, Tom Utterback said. Lot parking is an annual $20 fee.

Utterback the city’s director of development services said he and staff were left scratching their heads when they discovered after The News Tribune’s inquiry that Taco Bell, KFC, a nail salon and a self-defense school were listed as residents.

“I can’t explain how there is a Taco Bell or whatever on this list. Now we are having to be much more specific and be attentive to that. It is of interest to me that there are a few on here I can’t explain,” Utterback said.

Applicants for either type of parking permit must fill out a online form online. The residential form asks for home address, how many vehicles are registered to the property and requires a signature to certify that the information is accurate, under punishment of perjury. A vehicle with a residential parking permit can park anywhere with timed parking without a time limit.

The director said some of the 94 businesses holding residential parking permits could be local business owners who live downtown or churches that provide the homeless with temporary residences.

Police Capt. Ryan Portmann said the police department can only verify that a car has a permit sticker. Outside of that, there isn’t much police can do, Portmann said.

Available downtown parking has been a point of contention for businesses and residents. One business owner and landlord downtown, John Hopkins, said there has to be parking for visitors in order for there to be economic vitality.

“They made more timed parking, gave the lot to the businesses downtown and that cured the problem. However, over the years the lot is filled up more, and apparently the residential spots are filling up more,” Hopkins said.

Puyallup is revamping its downtown to build affordable housing and capitalize on the Sounder Station.

Utterback said the permit process has been digitized and now has more strict rules. If residents complain about a lack of parking to the department, he said the city would consider removing residential permits from some of the businesses that hold them.

“Things are a little more tightened-up now,” the director said. “We are monitoring the numbers and making sure the information can be verified.”

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.
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