Monthly Archives: September 2013

OC parking lot landscaping is unsightly

The in basket: Eileen Harnett asks, “Why does the new planted area in front of Olympic College running along Warren Avenue look like deserted property?  We have the worst looking entrance to any college in the state.

“Why wasn’t a lawn put into that area? It is unsightly, dry, barren and a fire hazard.  Who came up with that landscaping nightmare?” she wanted to know.

The out basket: The college has a Website that answers many questions about the new parking lot, but not this one. I went to Amanda Gebhardt-Fuentes, OC’s communications director. I asked if the landscaping in the newest parking area is what the college expected and if they’ve been able to maintain it as they wanted.

“Overall the landscaping has not turned out our desired results and we are going to be working on it throughout the year,” she said. “Keeping in mind within these challenging budgeting times our focus is on student completion and retention.

“Next weekend the city of Bremerton has a volunteer work crew coming to work on the area.  Please also note that the landscaping on the other side of the sidewalk running along 16th belongs to the city.”

For a broader discussion of the parking lot, go online to www.olympic.edu/index.htm and ask for parking lot in the search box, then click on General Parking Lot Frequently Asked Questions. 

It says, among other things,  “Vegetation is one of the most effective methods to ‘clean’ water polluted with contaminants such as oil, grease and toxic chemicals before it flows into local waterways. The solid surface of parking lots causes water to run along the top instead of absorbing into the ground. As it flows across the surface, the water picks up contaminants that spill or drip from cars and other sources. This polluted mixture flows directly into local waterways and can harm fish and wildlife, taint drinking water and impact recreational areas. “To help limit pollution and reduce cleanup costs of local waters, Olympic College is leading the way to make water cleaner and safer using better designed parking lots and vegetation that filters pollution from water runoff.

“This natural system also has the benefit of reducing heat buildup in parking lots during the summer, buffering sound from traffic, reducing storm water over load, and looking more attractive than other pollution removal systems. In the case of the new parking lot, these systems process runoff from a portion of Broadway Avenue and about a quarter of the Bremerton campus as well as the new parking lot itself.

Obscured rear plates and missing front ones

The in basket: Bob Hulet writes to say he sees many vehicles “with the rear license plate blocked by scooters, ice chests, bikes and dark grey plastic. I thought rear license plates are supposed to be exposed but it appears as no one is concerned about this anymore,” he said.

“Should situations like this be reported and to who, and how do you report it if you can’t read the plates?”

“There are also a large amount of vehicles no longer displaying the plates on the front, as they chose to put on organizational plates or none at all,” he added. “A lot of sports cars are in violation of this, as the manufacture doesn’t put a place for the plate.”

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger says, “Troopers do encounter the situations you describe where license plates are obscured by attachments to the vehicle such as trailer hitches and trailer hitch racks. Another situation encountered is the use of dark tinted license plate covers as well as oversize license plate frames that may obscure all or parts of license tabs. All of these situations are violations of (state law) and as such can get you stopped by a trooper or any other law enforcement officer.” So is having a plate covered with dirt.

“Our troopers are trained and expected to stop violations of the various motor codes, which they can and do,” Russ continued. “The enforcement taken is left up to the individual trooper. Many situations are temporary, such as a vehicle hauling bikes with a bumper rack or some other case where the plate is temporarily obscured. We expect our troopers to make a reasonable common sense decision on any enforcement. Actual citations are rare.

“In more permanent situations where plates are obscured such as with a bumper hitch ball (usually only a single letter or number obscured) or tinted plate covers which can decrease the readability of the license, the troopers still makes a judgment call on actual enforcement. A corrective notice, if warranted, can be issued if the trooper feels that the violation should be corrected immediately or as soon as practical. If the corrective action is not taken within the allotted time period then the trooper has the option to actually issue a citation to the driver.

“There is also an officer safety issue with obscured license plates,” he said. “Troopers radio in the location and license plate of the vehicle being stopped. If the officer cannot read the plate clearly, day or night, and calls in the incorrect or partial license plate, if something goes wrong and the vehicle flees, valuable information may be lost.”

When late Trooper Tony Radulescu was killed, the fact he had radioed in the correct license number of the killer’s car before getting out of his car led to quick identification of the suspect, Russ added. “What may seem to be a simple violation such as an obscured license plate may well be more important than one might initially think.”

I have written before that I can spot a car or truck without a front license plate at least once among any 40 I see coming at me on the highway, even though they are legally required. Last week, I saw three in a string of 20. None were older antique cars that are entitled to have only a rear plate, as I am reminded whenever I write about this, and as I was again this time in a reader comment.

I have to assume law enforcement officers have other things that demand their attention than pulling over vehicless for license plate violations.

Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department, agrees. “When the opportunity presents itself,” he said, “sheriff’s deputies will stop vehicles (for this) and question the driver / registered owner and take action as deemed appropriate.

“However… as you surmised, most of the time deputies are dealing with issues considered more urgent and they have to ignore the violation for the time being.  Additionally, they may notice the plate violation but not be in a position where they can safely conduct a vehicle traffic stop without incurring a risk of creating a traffic safety hazard by doing so.”