Monthly Archives: June 2014

Dear Abby and the disabled parking police

The in basket: Since the daily crossword puzzles in The Kitsap Sun and Dear Abby were put on the same page,  I always read Dear Abby, though it seems to be as much a huckster for books as an advice column these days.

One day recently, she fielded a letter from a woman who got yelled at by someone who thought she was using a handicapped parking space without being disabled.

Abby replied that confronting someone you suspect of gaming the disabled parking rules can lead to the kind of false accusation of which the letter writer said she had been a victim.

Abby then recommended a person, “write down the license number of the car and inform the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are right, the authorities will be interested in that information.”

That’s a bit short of saying the authorities will do anything about it, which is a good thing. I asked the state Department of Licensing, our equivalent of the DMV, to see what they would do with such a notification.

The out basket: “I’m afraid that isn’t the best advice,” Brad Benfield of the DOL replied. “My agency issues the placards and plates used for access to parking spaces for individuals with disabilities, but we don’t have any way to investigate alleged misuse or any enforcement power. We would not have a way to follow up on disabled parking space misuse.

“Those duties rest with the law enforcement agencies across our state. They have the power to issue tickets to individuals found to have parked illegally in these types of reserved parking spaces. If an individual would like to make a report about this type of activity, reporting it to their local law enforcement agency would be most appropriate.”

Our local police agencies all have different standards for enforcing disabled parking laws. Some will only cite for being in a disabled space without the requisite plate or placard.

When I asked the federal Department of Justice a while back if the disabled person who got the plate or placard can stay in the car in a handicapped space while someone else goes into the store or whatever, I was told that’s up to the local authorities.

So I asked Kitsap Sheriff’s Deputy Schon Montague, who directs the Citizens on Patrol (COP) volunteers who check disabled spaces for violators what he would do with such a complaint.

“People should call 911 when they suspect a law violation, including parking violations,” he said. “In Kitsap County there is no non-emergency phone number. The only way to get a hold of a deputy, COP, city police officer, or humane society officer is to call 911.  If a COP is working, they will respond. If not a deputy will respond.”

That depends on availability, proximity and no other major cop events at that moment, of course.

Truthfully, even if Abby had been right, I don’t think having the police contact you when you’re innocent is a big improvement over being accused by a stranger in a parking lot. Maybe Abbye’s written a book about it….

Wide yellow stripe prohibits left turns

The in  basket: The state repainted its highway striping in the Port Orchard area late in May, and I thought they had done something different with the center line on Highway 166 in front of the South Sound Cinemas.

They painted a broad yellow stripe, which prohibits left turns across it, so no one headed uphill can turn left into the theater legally.

There used to be a No Left Turn sign on the shoulder there, but it went away some time in the past.

A month or so ago, I was a few cars behind a car that stopped in the inside lane, signaling to make that illegal left turn and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. It’s a dangerous thing to do, as drivers in that lane are already looking back over their shoulder for outside lane traffic, knowing they’ll have to merge right very soon as the left lane ends. It’s a set-up for rear-end crashes.

Among that oncoming traffic was a Port Orchard police car, I noted after merging right and continuing uphill.

“This should be interesting,” I thought, and turned around to go downhill as soon as I could to see what the officer did. Alas, it took too long, and there was no sign of the turner or the police car when I got back to the scene.

It all reminded me that a similar wide yellow stripe had been added in front of what then was Silverdale Baptist Church on Highway 303 (aka Waaga Way) a couple of years ago. I kept forgetting to call the church (it’s been renamed Grace Point Church) and ask if it was their idea or the state’s.

The out basket: Claudia Bingham Baker, of the Olympic Region public affairs staff, says the wide stripe in front of the theater has been there since 2008. “It was placed there to prevent left turning accidents,” she said.

Even though I drive past there at least twice a day, it took the new coat of paint for my brain to register it, I guess.

Wendy Fox of Grace Point Church tells me the state required the broad stripe in front of the church when Silverdale Baptist  asked for a second access in and out. It led to the current alignment of an exit-only north of the entrance to the church. The stripe forbids left turns into the exit.

Incidentally, those who believe that left turns are forbidden across double yellow lines of normal width are in error. Without the extra width of the stripes, such as in  front of the theater and church, cross-hatching between the lines on the pavement, a raised barrier or a sign forbidding them, left turns are legal. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise thousands of people wouldn’t be able to turn into their driveways

Tell me more, reader asks about restoration of Silverdale streets

The out basket: Dave Kugler was unimpressed with the county’s answer as to whether the streets of Silverdale would be restored with a full overlay when Silverdale Water District’s water main replacement project is over. The answer was no, but that any patches that didn’t meet county standards would have to be brought up to those standards.

Dave wrote, “There is no doubt that the contractor has turned Silverdale Way into a tire and suspension torture track and that significant upgrades will be required to many of the patches.

“Can you clarify why we have to pay the county to inspect this work and then formally require further repairs? The contractor, hopefully, is already working to county standards and will fix these issues without further time and expense beyond the contract.

“Then please clarify that the contractor, not the county, will be paying for the needed additional work. I can only hope the contractor is doing better work under the surface than what we see and experience on the top.”

 The out basket:  Dale Blackwood, the county’s lead right of way inspector, who provided the original answer, responded to this one too.

 “All work done by contractors working in county-owned rights-of-way requires a permit,” Dale said. “The cost of the permit includes fees charged to Silverdale Water to cover inspections for the duration of the project.

“Their permit also requires, and we regularly receive, compaction tests for materials used during all phases of the project. We work closely with the contractor doing the work on this project for Silverdale Water. The contractor is responsible for the cost of any additional work required by our periodic inspections.

“Prior to a final inspection accepting their work, all work must comply with county road standards. Silverdale Water has a 2-year bond with their contractor to ensure any additional work needed to accept the project, as well as any deficiencies emerging during that period, are addressed and paid for through the bond.

“This is a long and extensive water main replacement project and the contractor has been responsive to issues, even if we called them during weekends and holidays. With the large amount of rain this spring and the volume of traffic that regularly uses Silverdale Way, the maintenance end of this project has been challenging. We continue to work with the contractor and Silverdale Water to ensure this challenge is met,” he said.