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Sidewalks: They are for pedestrians...not cars, garbage cans, basketball hoops...

Parking a car, your garbage can, a basketball hoop, or anything that isn't a pedestrian on a city sidewalk is illegal, and is a danger to those using them for their intended purpose.

I run.  A lot.  And I meander through the streets & neighborhoods all over Sammamish.  One thing that gets me every time I run is the cars that are parked on the sidewalks in this city.  If I can get inside the head of one of these offenders, my guess is that they think they are doing a favor to the vehicles that utilize the streets; giving them plenty of space to pass along the road.  That's a nice thought, except that they are intended for pedestrians to safely pass on the side away from vehicle traffic. 

Back to that running thing I had mentioned earlier.  Often times my runs have me pushing a double wide stroller, with 2 dogs in tow.  With the 5 of us running, we take up an entire sidewalk's width (see photo).  I cannot get around a car parked on the sidewalk (even if your just barely on the sidewalk) unless I run over your lawn, your neighbors lawn, or worse - out into traffic, which I was forced to do this week on SE 20th St (see photo) by a Century Link vehicle.  When I went by this same location the next day and saw another Century Link vehicle parked in the same place, it prompted me to finally get up on my soap box and ask, no beg, my fellow Sammamish neighbors to stop parking on the sidewalks.  If the fact that I'm asking to use the sidewalks for their intended purpose is not enough for you, consider this:  It is ILLEGAL.

That is correct, parking on the sidewalk in Sammamish is against the law.  The city's website says: 

Our adopted public works standards and city codes do not allow any object in the public right-of-way. Portable basketball hoops, vehicles, recreational vehicles and boats are some of the most frequently offending items. These all need to be kept on private property.

State law prohibits parking on sidewalks, and it costs the city of Sammamish a lot of money every year.  In fact, in 2010 the city spent $350,000 in repairs to sidewalks according to Mayor Tom Odell, in a report to the Sammamish Review.

According to the minutes from an April 16, 2012 city council meeting:

"Mayor Odell ... Parking on sidewalks is illegal in Washington State. With the reserve officer program we will have more staff to deal with these offenses in the future" 

And Mayor Tom Odell expressly wrote about these offenses in his May 2012 Mayor's Message in the Sammamish City Newsletter.  I echo Mayor Odell's sentiments as he expresses concern for children, adults, or anyone forced off the sidewalks to choose between walking on private property or veering into the street and potential oncoming traffic to avoid vehicles.

But sadly, this problem isn't limited to just cars.  The basketball hoops, garbage cans, overgrown landscape, realtor signs, or anything else that you put on the sidewalks is also against the city's code.  I can't tell you how frustrating it is to walk or run down the road with a stroller that is literally 3 feet wide & try to dodge garbage can after garbage can.  I typically end up just running in the street, because I have no choice.  On garbage day the sidewalks are litered with trash, recycle, and yard waste bins and there's no dodging all of that.  Then there's the basketball hoops.  I know, I sound like such a grinch, but the hoops are as bad as a car...I can't get around them.  I'm forced into the street.  There's one in particular that I'm perpetually dodging on 212th Pl SE, and their neighbor a few doors down has the sidewalk blocked with overgrown bushes that are wedged behind the mail box.  Again, I'm forced into the street.  Fortunately, traffic here is light...but that isn't the point.  It only takes one car to hit me or someone else & it won't make a difference if this is 212th Pl SE or 228th Ave.

Another contention I have is cars blocking the sidewalk egress ways.  Those little "yellow" areas on the sidewalks that allow people like me with strollers, or those in a wheel chair to safely get on & off the sidewalks are often blocked by cars in the roadway.  

So, I'm asking for my neighbors of Sammamish to please consider where you park your car, your garbage cans, your basketball hoops, etc.  It may not only save a life, but it will save our tax payer dollars in unnecessary repair costs to our sidewalks.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Govind Agarwal February 10, 2013 at 09:26 AM
where are you supposed to keep the garbage cans on garbage days?
Christie Malchow February 10, 2013 at 02:10 PM
In the street. We place ours against the curb.
Leslie Barber February 13, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Thank you for writing this--I had written a very similar letter a few years ago, but didn't submit it--I run a lot too, with doggies, and I used to have the stroller as well. I tend to avoid Thursday runs because of the garbage and recycling hassle, but I fully agree that people should stop parking on sidewalks. Thank you for your voice!
Christie McMahon Malchow February 13, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Thank you for your kind words, Leslie. I just hope my article brings attention to the problem. Share it on Facebook or email it to neighbors to increase awareness.
Christie Malchow February 17, 2013 at 04:31 PM
I plan to bring this to the attention (again) of City Council.

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