Joseph council eyes truck parking -- again

By Steve Tool

Wallowa County Chieftain

Published on May 16, 2017 2:37PM

Downtown Joseph

Downtown Joseph

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Delivery trucks parking in front of or near the home of Mark Lacey and Kathy Drake in Joseph took center stage again before Joseph City Council May 4. The issue has appeared on the council agenda since at least October 2016 when it was originally brought to the council’s attention.

Mark Lacey and Kathy Drake live behind Red Horse Coffee Traders in the 300 block of North Main Street. They claim delivery trucks park in front of their home and disrupt their lives.

Red Horse owners Kathy and Mike Leo say they have done all they can to keep trucks away from the couple’s doorstep and are puzzled that the issue keeps coming back for discussion.

Kathy Leo told the council she had received complaints from the residents behind the coffee shop and asked her delivery drivers more than a year ago to turn off their beepers and refrigeration units and to use the alley if they have a smaller truck.

“We’re following all the rules, so I’m not sure why this keeps popping up in a negative light for us,” Leo added, noting that previous coverage of the issue did not adequately address their side of the discussion.

Leo said that she and her husband had never received the two calls from Mayor Dennis Sands mentioned at a previous meeting on the topic. Sands said it had been an error on his part as the phone number he had was one digit off. Leo also said she had never received a letter from the city recommending that businesses have delivery trucks use their respective alleys, also previously mentioned. Council member Teresa Sajonia said she had received one.

Leo also said she had tried to set up meetings, “to try to get some clarity, which I received no feedback on.” She did not specify who she attempted to contact or the means of contact. No one on the council confirmed having been contacted by Leo.

Council member Pearl Sturm asked if delivery truck parked in front of the adjacent home. Leo said the trucks did not park directly in front of the Lacey’s home but sometimes took a long time clearing the area. She added the trucks park as close to her building as possible.

Councilor Tyler Evans asked Leo if in her efforts to date, she had managed to direct traffic away from Pine St. Leo said that trucks “if they’re a certain size” do. She added that she had walked the alleyway with council members previously to show a post that obstructed drivers at the end of the alley.

Mike Leo told the council he believed there was a trailer backing safety issues in the alley. Sands asked if the trucks could pull into the alleyway from Wallowa Avenue and back out of the alley. Mike Leo said it was his opinion that it would be too hazardous for trucks to back out onto Wallowa Avenue, and trucks couldn’t make the turn into the alley anyway.

“We’re all for using the alley; It just doesn’t work,” Kathy Leo added.

Mark Lacey read a letter reaffirming his belief that trucks are not turning off their beepers or motors. He said the couple had bought their house in 2005, several years before the coffee shop settled on Main Street.

“Since we’ve had those 18-wheelers constantly in front of our house, our quality of life has just gone down the toilet,” he said. “It’s intolerable.”

Lacey mentioned the couple had also emailed the council with a link to a video of a truck parked in front of their home with the motor running. He also said he could not see a legitimate reason not to have a Main Street loading zone.

“Every other city in the United States has loading zones. It’s not like a reinventing the wheel to have a loading zone,” he said.

Joseph resident Angie Lunde also advocated for a Main Street loading zone because of truck damage to residential streets. She also made a plea to the council and audience on the subject of the “morality” of the parking issue.

City council member Tom Clevenger said there was no need for the city to take action on the issue, adding that although he didn’t think citizens should be subjected to trucks, he didn’t see a solution to the issue.

He said that someone who has a commercial drivers license, he would be unwilling to back down the coffee shop alley and he was not for the council creating an ordinance that wouldn’t be enforced.

He did not say why he believed an ordinance wouldn’t be enforced. A sheriff’s office representative told the Chieftain that if the city approved an ordinance with a “pain clause” –– a fine or other punishment –– the department would enforce it.

Clevenger also said that in his opinion the entire issue was no more than “a trash truck driving on Monday emptying their dumpsters.”

After more discussion, the council decided to contact the landowner at the end of the alley and ask to remove the post to make it easier for trucks to drive through.


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