Boldt ignores gut, follows Mielke’s heart

Clark County commissioners on Tuesday finally decided what to do about street parking in a Salmon Creek neighborhood west of Washington State University Vancouver: residents will be able to park on the street.

At least, that’s what commissioners are allowing for now, over protests from residents.

The county enacted a no-parking zone last year after neighbors signed a petition saying that their streets were flooded with students seeking to avoid paying for parking on campus. Signs were posted that there was no parking during school hours. Residents, whose homes all have a garage and a driveway, were told they could not park on the street, either, during those hours.

Commissioner Tom Mielke has been pushing for residents to be able to park on the street. This took considerable effort; you can read about the effort here. He’s never named the people who said they wanted to park on the street. He said he received one email from someone who considered buying a home in the neighborhood but was concerned about the parking issue.

After the story was published, the county figured out a less expensive way to handle the permits and decided to offer them for free. But commissioners also started hearing from residents who say they don’t want to return to street parking because they’ve grown accustomed to the quiet streets.

They worry that parked cars will be an invitation to students, and they know the Clark County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t rank parking violations as a high priority.

Two residents showed up Tuesday to ask commissioners again not to change the parking zone. Buzz Kleemeyer said residents (90 homes are in the neighborhood) were polled, and 96 percent said they don’t want the parking zone to change.

That was enough for Commissioner Steve Stuart, who voted no.

“We have a solution that’s working,” Stuart said. “No solution works 100 percent.”

Commissioner Marc Boldt said his gut was telling him to vote no, but he decided to side with Mielke and give permit-only parking a shot.

“It was a one-and-a-half year effort on my part,” Mielke said. (Mielke asked Boldt why his gut didn’t speak up a year and a half ago.)

Signs will be replaced to reflect that parking is by permit only, and residents will be mailed an application. If they so desire, they will be issued free parking permits. If they don’t want to park on the street, they don’t have to, Mielke said.

Administrator Bill Barron said an effective date has not been decided, as new signs need to be posted and the applications mailed out.

Boldt’s support came with the condition that, two months after the new parking rules go into effect, the county will check back with residents to see how it’s working.

Stuart’s suggestion: save those old “No Parking” signs.

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