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Downtown parking limits in effect soon

City oks 15 minute spaces

Motorists seeking to park in downtown White Salmon will soon have a new restriction to be aware of.

With a 4-0 vote, the White Salmon City Council approved creating two 15-minute parking spaces in the downtown business district.

The move comes after several business owners on the north side of Jewett Boulevard requested that the city provide the restricted spaces as a way to allow customers easier access to their businesses.

"We're looking for resolution to all sorts of parking problems," said Richard Marx, a member of the City Council's street committee. "We need to start somewhere, and I don't see any reason not to do this."

The spaces will be directly in front of two new businesses -- Postal Connections and Ground Cafe -- in the 100 block of E. Jewett. The owners of those buildings, as well as the owner of Miller Sports & Liquor, requested the time limit on parking as a way to allow more people to make quick stops downtown.

"We moved them up two spaces so they're not right in front of the Elkhorn, because who knows what's going to go in there," Marx explained.

Bingen-White Salmon Police Department Police Chief Bruce Brending explained that to enforce the new parking rules, an officer would have to see the infraction.

"Eighty to 85 percent will honor the sign. But if someone is abusing it, it's an infraction [an officer] has to witness. When he is called is when the enforcement clock would start," Brending explained. "If a citation is issued, some people will come out, see they've got a ticket, and say, `OK, I've already got a ticket, I'll leave the car there.'"

Marx noted that virtually all of the downtown merchants signed a petition requesting the new 15-minute parking proposal.

"When they all sign a petition, I figure we should give it a chance," Marx said.

The new 15-minute parking spots will be in force as soon as the city gets new signs posted. That is expected to happen in early January.

Not everyone present at the Dec. 20 meeting supported the parking changes.

"Before any more changes get made, there needs to be a comprehensive look at downtown, instead of going hodge-podge and willy-nilly," said White Salmon resident Shirley Cox. "Just because some business owners want it now doesn't mean it'll apply later."

After the vote, Marx asked whether the city might consider making a parking lot out of what is now the park behind Thriftway. The ponderosa pines in the park were knocked down during the Dec. 14 windstorm that hit the area.

"Since the trees are gone, let's make it a parking lot," Marx commented. "We're looking for ways to get more parking."

However, Mayor Francis Gaddis pointed out that the lot is an old cemetery. Although the headstones are gone, people remain buried there.

"It would take an act of Congress to make that a parking lot," Gaddis said.


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