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City Council upholds Sexton Mountain residents on-street parking appeal

Staff asked to look at safety solutions for Diamond Way

What started as a relatively simple neighborhood dispute over on-street parking turned into a marathon discussion on road safety and residents' rights at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

After a nearly two-hour discussion among council members and residents of Southwest Diamond Way, the council voted 3-2 to uphold a resident's appeal of a ruling that would prevent him from parking in front of his Sexton Mountain home.

Neighbors of Steven Shane, who frequently parks his Chevrolet Suburban on the street in front of his house, asked the city's volunteer-based Traffic Commission to restrict parking on the section near the residence for safety reasons. They claimed the truck blocks the view of drivers coming around the curve at the bottom of a long hill.

'At the bottom of the hill, it's a really blind (curve),' said resident Markus Tollefson. 'Your headlights don't shine around the curve, and it doesn't feel safe when you drive around. One of these days, I know I'm going to meet someone' coming the other way.

Shane's 'gentleman's agreement' to park his vehicle on the street only 20 percent of the time wasn't working to the residents' satisfaction.

Drivers typically speed up when coming down Diamond Way, residents added.

With councilors Marc San Soucie and Catherine Arnold supporting the commission's conclusion, councilors Ian King, Betty Bode and Cathy Stanton voted to uphold Shane's appeal to continue legally parking on the street. The council further asked the mayor to direct traffic engineers to analyze the street and come up with possible solutions to visibility and speeding problems.

Bode said the testimony she heard indicated the street's safety issues went beyond the realm of where one neighbor parks his truck.

'Everyone testifying said there was speeding on the street,' she said. 'The council didn't feel, from the testimony, that this would be solved by removing (Shane's) privilege of parking his car in front of his house.

'We didn't believe that removing his freedom was the answer to make that roadway safe.'

On the other hand, Arnold, admitting she is conservative when it comes to public safety issues, said Shane's parked Suburban creates a clear hazard.

'It's totally a blind spot. It looks like a lot of people on the street thought there was a need for parking restrictions on the west side of the street,' she said on Wednesday morning.

Furthermore, she preferred to give the Traffic Commission the benefit of any doubt after it's made a decision.

'They spend a lot of time on it,' she said. 'It has to be really tilted strongly toward an appeal before I'll (approve) it.'

Arnold, who joined her fellow councilors in voting to refund the $250 Shane spent to file his appeal, said she hopes a workable solution arises for the street.

'Neither side had a win-win,' she said of Tuesday's wrangling. 'I hope before anything terrible happens, between the neighborhood folks and the traffic engineers, they'll come up with some good ideas.'