Commissioners approve parking restrictions

The discussion included areas with narrow shoulders, high traffic or unsafe areas to park a vehicle.

Island County commissioners have implemented recent restrictions affecting a number of county roads.

During a regular meeting last week, the commissioners discussed restriction codes for areas with narrow shoulders, high traffic, high pedestrian volumes or unsafe areas to park a vehicle.

The affected roads include Ustalady Point Road, Shore Drive, Fifth Street, Wildrose Lane, Mabana Road, Shoreline Drive, Sundin Drive, Hill Road, Glendale Road, Double Bluff Road and Shore Avenue. The restrictions prohibit parking on both sides of the roadway in certain areas in most cases, and in one instance prohibit overnight parking between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Hoffman Road, the site of a sizable homeless encampment and the focus of many North Whidbey residents’ concern, was not included in this list. Commissioner Jill Johnson took umbrage with prohibiting parking on roads with beach access but not other areas of the county where there are issues.

Island County Public Works Director Connie Bowers explained that the popularity of getting to the beach on these roads creates emergency access issues when there are no parking restrictions in place. She added that the department plans to come back to the board of commissioners to talk about no parking in general or no parking specific to concerns about the homeless, but for now, the conversation is about signs posted by the county on shoreline roads that didn’t have the code to support them.

Commissioner Melanie Bacon said the signs are dealing with tourism. Commission Janet St. Clair, however, pointed out that in the case of Hill Road, it was a conversation of RVs parking along the road, and not just tourism.

Johnson continued to push back against the issue.

“It’s gonna be hard for me to vote for this given, really, what is preferential protection and more enforcement tools for individuals who live on the water than individuals who live adjacent to a city,” she said.

As part of the discussion, a public hearing was held. Marie Shimada, the reserve manager for Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, expressed the trust board’s support for the added restrictions on Hill Road.

“I will point out that there are historic resource concerns, environmental concerns and public safety concerns regarding that section of road, and I’ll point out that there is archeologic sensitivity in that area as well,” Shimada said.

Another Whidbey resident asked the commissioners to consider looking into the parking situation on Hugh Taylor Lane, as well as the intersection of Maxwelton and Sills roads, and questioned the legitimacy of existing “no parking” signs at these locations.

Returning to the issue of Hoffman Road, Bacon said restricting parking here is inviting folks to find some other county road to go plant themselves in and set up a new camp, and said she wasn’t sure this is the right venue to address the homeless encampment problem.

The motion for parking restrictions was approved in a 2-1 vote, with Johnson voting in opposition. St. Clair noted that the decision moved forward with a desire to bring forward a conversation about no parking in areas across the county in a more equitable fashion.