If there's one call West Linn Police can count on receiving every week day, it's a parking complaint near West Linn High School. For the past several months, WLPD has received at least one call from Bolton residents complaining about student parking —sometimes as many as four or five in one day.
The problem has only grown worse as the school year's progressed, West Linn Police Chief Terry Kruger said.
"Always at this time of year, we get more violators than we do at the beginning of the school year," he explained. "Part of that I think is because kids are getting towards the end of the year, but more importantly there's more drivers. More kids have come of age, gotten their licenses throughout the year and are now driving."
Residents of the Bolton neighborhood have for years been troubled by students parking in the neighborhood, much of which is a restricted parking zone. Certain areas of Broadway Street, West A Street, Skyline Drive and other nearby streets are part of a residential parking zone that requires parked cars to have resident permits.
Members of the Bolton Neighborhood Association have long been bothered by students without residential permits parking in the residential zones because there is not enough parking provided at the high school.
"This parking zone up there, it is such a hot topic, it's been ongoing for so long. It's a tough one to weigh in on as the police department," Kruger said. "We respond out there. We proactively go out there. We issue citations. We issue warnings and the neighborhood is having a fit."
The police department has taken a discretionary approach to the issue, sometimes citing unpermitted cars parked in the residential zone and other times giving warnings. In the first three days of last week, May 20-23, police received six calls complaining about parking near the high school and issued 15 warnings and more than 17 citations according to police records..
This approach has upset Bolton residents who want to see citations issued every time they call the police.
"There is a lack of enforcement," one resident said at a recent Bolton Neighborhood Association meeting. "Right now, people call and the police come and look and they're like, 'Oh, it's fine. There's other parking spots.'"
Kruger, who is scheduled to meet with the Bolton Neighborhood Association at their next meeting in June, said he may consider cracking down with more citations.
"The problem seems to be increasing here at the end of the school year, as it always does," he said. "More outreach might be necessary within the schools to educate the new drivers and internally, we might start having conversations about a zero-tolerance blanket approach up there with no warnings."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.