Politics & Government

Pierce County Council votes to ban overnight parking of commercial semis and trailers

The Pierce County Council voted Tuesday to ban overnight parking of commercial semis and trailers, responding to complaints the big rigs are creating safety hazards in neighborhoods.

Spanaway resident Lance Equall said a neighbor parks two of his semitrailers on both sides of the road down his cul-de-sac.

“It makes it hard to access even our private driveways,” Equall said. “I just hope you guys can find it in your hearts to give us a little bit of a break out there.”

Equall got the break he wanted when the council voted 6-1 to enact the overnight prohibition.

The ordinance bars commercial semis and trailers from parking in the public right of way in residential areas between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Violators will be subject to a $175 fine per occurrence. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department will cite violators with traffic infractions.

The truck parking reduces visibility and causes a hazard for pedestrians and for drivers, according to the ordinance.

The change, effective Aug. 1, applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,001 pounds or a trailer in excess of 20 feet long in unincorporated residential areas primarily within urban growth areas. They include Parkland, Spanaway, Midland, Frederickson, South Hill, Eatonville and Gig Harbor.

Frank Ortiz, who lives near Equall in the 18700 block of Second Avenue East in the Spanaway area, cited the hazard the trucks pose for pedestrians and drivers.

“It’s dangerous when kids come out from behind semis that are parked on the road for a day or two,” he said.

The county’s ordinance is similar to those in King County and in the cities of Seattle and Tacoma. Tacoma’s prohibition is for all hours. Pierce County’s aims to stop overnight parking without barring daytime parking in the right of way for loading and unloading.

Council members Jim McCune, R-Graham, and Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, sponsored the measure.

McCune described the overnight prohibition as a compromise short of a 24-hour ban, but a necessary step for public safety. He said he’s seen truckers continue to park their rigs in front of people’s houses even after homeowners put up “no parking” signs.

“It’s pretty rude,” McCune said.

Talbert said he understands concerns about the impact the overnight ban might have on truckers who don’t have adequate space to park their semitrailers. But people in these neighborhoods “have just as much right to their property and the ability to enjoy it,” he said.

Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, said the ban was too broad to deal with the issue.

She cited a 2005 state study that reported a shortage of truck parking facilities along the Interstate 5 corridor.

“The situation has only gotten worse,” said McDonald, who cast the lone “no” vote.

She voiced concern the ban will harm “regular truckers” who drive in and out of the Puget Sound area.

“I would really hope that there would be a more effective way of addressing the bad apples in the neighborhood,” she said.