The Lacey City Council voted 6-1 to approve a more restrictive parking ordinance affecting RV and commercial vehicles, which upset a woman so much she was eventually asked to leave.
Her outburst capped an intense discussion about changes to the city’s parking ordinance that restricts commercial and recreational vehicle parking to no more than four hours on the “improved or unimproved portion of any street, alley, public right-of-way or publicly owned parking lot.”
Violations come with a penalty of $35.
The new ordinance takes effect in five days, City Attorney Dave Schneider said. The city wanted the changes because many are living out of their RVs in the City Hall parking lot, he said.
But there’s one stark difference between the city’s recently passed camping ban ordinance and the parking ordinance: The camping ban is subject to a federal court ruling known as Boise v. Martin, which means the city can’t enforce its ban as it relates to the homeless until it has some place to send them.
However, the federal court ruling, Schneider said, does not apply to a city’s ability to enforce its own parking regulations.
After hearing that, Jack Potter, who said he is living out of his vehicle in the City Hall parking lot, asked: Where do we go?
That prompted Phoenix Wendt of Olympia to stand and raise her voice, saying the city was out of compliance and unconstitutional.
“We do not appreciate this,” she said.
Although two Lacey police officers responded to her outburst, she exited City Hall without incident.
If the owner of an RV or commercial vehicle gets a permit from the city, they can park for more than four hours, under the new ordinance. There’s only one problem: the city hasn’t figured out how the permit process will work.
Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder urged City Manager Scott Spence to come up with a permit policy and bring it back to a future council work session.
Councilwoman Carolyn Cox voted against the parking ordinance.
She said she was prepared to vote for it, but then raised concerns about the impact of the parking ordinance, the camping ban and the fact that the city is looking for a temporary overnight site for RVs. Main Street in northeast Lacey is under consideration for that destination.
In total, it “gives the appearance that we’re really putting the squeeze on the homeless,” she said. “We don’t want to harass them. They need to be treated with dignity and respect.”