Own an RV? Law changes around large vehicles in the works

Where large vehicle owners can park in the city may change soon

If there’s a trailer or delivery truck sitting parked on your street, it may need to move soon. And those same vehicles sitting on yards could be next.

The city is looking to prohibit oversized vehicles from parking on Renton public streets. This could go into effect in the coming months.

The ordinance would apply to vehicles longer than 23 feet, wider than 84 inches or taller than 9 feet, vehicles with gross vehicle weight greater than or equal to 10,000 pounds or vehicle weight rating greater than 14,500 pounds.

“The message is that public right-of-ways are not designed to be a place of storage for commercial vehicles, or vehicles so large as to create issues with livability of a neighborhood,” Senior Planner Paul Hintz said.

Oversized vehicles can create visual barriers or force pedestrians to be either blocked or go around, into the street, causing safety hazards. Some also create visual blight, Hintz said, sitting for long periods of time.

This is first change to oversized vehicle codes in almost 30 years, which Hintz said is code that doesn’t get looked at very often in municipalities.

The goal is to provide reasonable limitations to what vehicles should be allowed to park on public right-of-ways, which is simply the width of land owned by the city, whether it’s a street with sidewalks or barely developed.

Code compliance staff decided to review oversized vehicle codes, public and private, after noticing tractor-trailers and other oversized vehicles being parked on private properties throughout the city, Hintz said.

This ordinance is not related to parking on private property, but a changes for that code are in the works as well, and would possibly be ready some time this fall, Hintz said. It’s unclear how that ordinance will look, since it needs to go through planning commission and city council.

This ordinance is also unrelated to people living in vehicles and trailers, Hintz said. In the same week as Renton looked at this, the city of Seattle announced legislation that would allow the city to destroy RVs deemed public health hazards. The Seattle Times reported that 53 percent of RVs that were towed, reappeared on Seattle streets.

Hintz said he’s aware these issues are being looked at by other cities, but that this ordinance is about what kind of vehicles are being stored on the streets.

Commercially licensed or commercial vehicles would simply be prohibited from parking in public right-of-ways. In addition, motor homes, pop-up trailer vehicles and other trailers disconnected from another vehicle, including horse trailers, boat trailers, snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles, would be prohibited.

“These vehicles are seldom used, they’re used for sports and recreation, so they sit dormant for long periods of time,” Hintz said at the June 10 Committee of the Whole meeting.

However, exceptions would be for recreational vehicles that are about to be used, for example, for a vacation or trip. In that case, they can park on the street for no more than two consecutive days.

Speaking as an owner of an RV that’s 35-feet long, Council President Don Persson knows it creates visibility issues when they’re parked on the streets.

“If you’re going to go on a trip, two days is more than enough time and shouldn’t affect the neighborhood too much,” Persson said.

Commercial vehicles will be exempt from these rules during deliveries, pick up or other service similar activities.

Police Chief Ed VanValey said there isn’t a large problem with this in Renton, and that it will be easy for parking enforcement to let those who park on the streets know.

Substantial changes haven’t been made to oversized vehicle code since 1990. Persson was not a councilmember at the time, but remembers the code was changed back then due to a logger who would park his big logging rig in front of the logger’s house on Talbot hill. The logger would start it up at 3 a.m. and idle for 20 minutes.

“I think this is a reasonable approach to it,” Persson said.

Previous regulations do not allow disconnected trailers or semi-trailers parked on the street, do not allow any parking for longer than 72 hours, and won’t allow parking without up-to-date license plates.

All types of trailers, commercial buses and trucks with over one ton carrying capacity are prohibited from parking in the right-of-way between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Vehicles with a weight greater than 12,000 pounds are prohibited from parking on a side of a street with only residential units. They also cannot park in public street between midnight and 3 a.m., or run their engine for more than 10 minutes between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Lastly, they can’t park there for more than two hours.

The only exception is if these 12,000 pound vehicles are engaged in deliveries or ongoing business activity. Commuting commercial vehicles less than 12,000 pounds and privately owned recreational vehicles and boats, or public vehicles responding to emergencies are also exempt, under city code.

This code created loopholes that allowed commercial vehicles to park on residential streets, but it should be closed now, according to staff.

City staff will prepare an ordinance for first reading at a future council meeting.

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