By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The debate over tow truck parking in Keizer continues.
Under current code, a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds is not allowed to park on a street in a residential area.
In recent meetings, owners of area tow truck companies have argued employees often don’t have room to park tow trucks in their private driveways and thus need to be able to park on the street, since responding to an accident scene from home within the time required by the Keizer Police Department is faster than driving to the office in a personal vehicle to pick up a tow truck and then respond to a scene.
However, there has also been pushback from neighbors who have argued tow trucks create safety hazards when parked on the street, in addition to waking up neighbors when the trucks respond to an accident in the middle of the night.
City attorney Shannon Johnson indicated at the April 7 meeting the request to look at the parking ordinance first came from BC Towing.
“Some tow companies have drivers on call, so they take trucks home with them,” Johnson said. “If they park the truck in the street, they are in violation of our parking ordinance. It’s really a policy question.”
Liz Rumelhart from Wiltse Towing said tow trucks weigh more these days since most cars are heavier than before.
“When our drivers are on duty at night, our offices are closed,” Rumelhart said. “In Keizer, our drivers have to be (to a scene) in 15 minutes. I understand the issue with the noise and the backup beepers. Drivers come and go in the middle of the night. That does happen.”
Rumelhart said her company has low turnover and new employees are told to talk to their neighbors about the issue.
“I want my drivers to be able to live in Keizer,” she said. “If this law is not passed, I won’t be able to hire drivers who live in Keizer. I need to be able to have drivers take their trucks home.”
Nick Devlin and John Blake, residents on Clearview Court, noted some drivers are not like the ones described by Rumelhart.
“Trucks are parking right at the intersection where it’s not a wide street to begin with,” Blake said. “This is the bad side of it. I was told (by the driver) it’s my problem. I wish Ms. Rumelhart was in my neighborhood. We have a tow truck driver with zero respect for the community.”
Blake said one residence on the cul-de-sac has two tow trucks, leading to safety concerns as there are 13 children in the neighborhood.
“The trucks started parking in the easement, which created a mudhole,” Devlin said, noting the residence in question is a duplex. “These companies need to look at where their employees are living.”
Mayor Lore Christopher noted the tricky balance between allowing tow truck drivers to respond and the potential impacts on a neighborhood.
“None of us are hard and fast sure what the answer is,” Christopher said. “Those cul-de-sacs are tight anyway. Maybe not allow parking in cul-de-sacs (for trucks). That is a real safety issue, especially when you have children.”
Councilors approved a motion for staff to bring back an ordinance with parking restrictions at an upcoming meeting.
Councilor Dennis Koho brought up the issue again during this week’s meeting, in regards to two letters received from neighbors complaining about tow trucks in their neighborhood.