New snowplow plan will eliminate half of Spokane's on-street parking all winter

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Whether it's snowing or not, cars in Spokane will only be able to park on the odd side of the street all winter. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Whether it's snowing or not, cars in Spokane will only be able to park on the odd side of the street all winter.

The big headlines of the city's new snowplowing plan have been focused on the faster and more frequent plowing.

But for some residents, the new parking rules associated with the plow strategy may make it impossible to find a place to park on the street. From November 15 to March 15, in order to make room for regular residential snowplowing, the city's new rules require that residents only park on the odd side of the street — effectively eliminating half the city's on-street parking all winter.

In previous years, the snowplowing rules required residents to move their car to the even or odd side of the street only during a major snow event.

"We would call a snow event and ask them to run outside and move their car," says city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

That was a source of frustration for a lot of residents. They'd be sleeping in the middle of the night when a snow event was called and wake up to find their car plowed in. Not only that, but on narrow streets, it only takes one car parked on the wrong side of the street to stop snowplows from getting through.

Last winter, plow drivers would text pictures of streets blocked by cars to City Hall.

So now, drivers will be required to park on the odd side of the street all winter, whether it's snowing or not.

Feist says that the new rule is an attempt to simplify things for residents.

"This is the simple request: Park on the odd side of the street," Feist says. "This is a collaboration. We’re asking the citizens to do this."

Yet for many neighborhoods, like West Central and Browne's Addition, access to driveways or parking garages are limited.

Conflicts over limited on-street parking availability have often resulted in neighbors filing complaints: In the first five months of 2017, according to an Inlander record request, the city received more than 1,200 complaints about residents parking for more than 24 hours. One Audubon/Downriver neighbor issued 64 complaints to the city about continuous parking in the span of only three months.

Limiting on-street parking to only one side of the street could exacerbate frustrations in some neighborhoods.

But Feist says she doesn't expect the city to be ticketing cars when it's not snowing.

"Am I running around being the odd-side-of-the-street parking police? No," she says.

Feist says the city has been giving presentations to each neighborhood about the new snowplowing plan, including discussing the possibility of finding alternative parking places for residents who need it.

"We’re going neighborhood by neighborhood," Feist says. "All 29 neighborhoods will get a snow presentation this month... We’ve been to West Central and they’ve been pretty positive."

City Councilman Breean Beggs, who will have to switch to parking on the other side of the street in his South Hill neighborhood, says he's willing to try out the city's new parking strategy.

"We’ll have to watch. If there’s a lot of snow, it makes a lot of sense to do it that way," Beggs says. "If there’s not a lot of snow, you’re losing that extra parking for no big trade-off."

Council President Ben Stuckart is also supportive of the changes.

"If we want to make it faster and we want to get it to people quicker, there’s going to be trade-offs," Stuckart says. "I’m willing to try it for the first winter to see how it goes."

Other parking changes may provide additional frustrations for residents. RVs and boat trailers won't be able to be parked on streets at all. 

And downtown residents won't be allowed to park on the street overnight at all during snow events — on either side of the street. The Downtown Spokane Partnership met with the Streets Department to discuss concerns for residents who live in the area.

"We were assured the City anticipates only 4 or 5 major closures," DSP said in a Twitter comment.