The sound of an idling semitrailer all night long isn’t the most comforting one when trying to get a few winks at an interstate rest stop.
So, imagine it outside your bedroom window.
That, basically, was the issue before the Spokane Valley City Council last Tuesday night as it weighed the pros and cons of drafting a new law that would regulate where and how long commercial vehicles – basically large semis and 18-wheelers – can park and run idle in single-family-home neighborhoods.
“I would want a large truck parked on my street,” said Council Member Chuck Hafner, a resident of the Ponderosa area. “I think it’s an imposition.”
The issue has come up before the council from time to time, as city residents have relayed tales of 5-ton monstrosities idling for days on end, diesel fumes wafting through open windows, and blocked views and driveways.
It’s a situation that Council Member Arne Woodard can relate to as he says he’s dealing with it now from a nearby neighbor.
“I don’t want to totally restrict them,” Woodard said. “But by the same token, I d want to make sure people can’t park a 70-foot truck in front of an 80-foot lot.”
City staff members brought council members examples of other laws in 14 other cities and counties on how the problem is dealt with. Currently, there is no specific ordinance that addresses the issue in Spokane Valley.
In Clark County, for example, trucks with a gross weight capacity over 10,001 pounds are prohibited from being parked on any street of any residential area of the county. However, exceptions are made for “reasonable” loading and unloading.
Closer to home, Liberty Lake has a similar law, but limits the parking of vehicles over 10,000 pounds licensed gross vehicle weight between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. in residential areas.
Some council members liked Spokane’s law, which prohibits the “habitual parking” of large commercial trucks in residential zones.
Tom Towey, Spokane Valley mayor, said he isn’t so sure that language is a bit too vague, however.
“If you talk to three different neighbors, you’re going to get three different answers,” he said. “I think we can go forward with an ordinance that will give the small businessman a little bit of leeway.”
Council Member Ben Wick said he’s not sure an ordinance is needed at all.
“I don’t see a huge need for a regulation at this time,” he said. “I don’t see this as a huge win for us.”
Council Member Brenda Grassel said she wanted to get more information on how any ordinance on where large trucks can park will affect those who drive them.
“I we do the ordinance, I would want to know what would the hardship be on that person,” she said.
City staffers will bring back more information at a future council meeting.
The council will not meet on June 5.
However, there will be a special council/staff budget retreat on June 12 beginning at 8:30 a.m. and running to 4 p.m. at CenterPlace. A formal meeting will follow that day at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.