Parking Ban on the Mercer Ways a City Council Folly

Local resident Joy Matsuura is opposed to a proposed ordinance to restrict parking vehicles on the new road shoulders on East, West and parts of North Mercer from dawn to dusk.


The City Council intends to pass an ordinance on March 5 banning daylight parking along most of East and West Mercer Ways and parts of North Mercer Way. The proposed Dawn to Dusk policy is difficult on residents because the hours can change so much during the year. If they want to have an evening barbecue in July, their guests can't park on the street till after 10pm. If someone is sleeping over, they better be prepared to move their cars at 4:30am.

Councilman Dan Grausz feels that paving some shoulders has given the City the right to dictate how all of them are used. On February 21 he said that if he'd known they would be used for parking he wouldn't have bothered to pave them. He forgets that the paving was paid for by taxpayers--among them the people who live next to these shoulders.

There aren't many shoulders that are wide enough to park on, but there are some and they are precious. Right now, people can use them to visit friends, pick up their mail or stop at a yard sale. If parents want to wait for the schoolbus or take their kids to a party, they can park without fear of a ticket. If someone is having work done on his house, he and the workers have a place to park.

If the City Council has their way that flexibility will be gone and the greenery along the Mercer Ways will become blighted with miles of No Parking signs. At a time when burglaries are on the rise, the police will be busy enforcing the parking ban.

Councilwoman Jane Meyer Brahm pointed out that City Staff recommended AGAINST implementing this policy--and there is no data to support a need for it. She described it as the City using a sledgehammer when a feather would do.

I hope the people of Mercer Island will think about how this policy will harm our relaxed way of life and tell the Council to vote against it.


Joy Matsuura

Kris Robbs February 28, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Banning daylight parking on "The Mercers" would be a huge mistake. Why? For those who live along these roads entertaining is hard enough without banning the use of those few areas that are wide enough to park a car. Regardless of whether they are paved these areas have always been used by citizens in need of extra space for cars.
Kim Fackrell February 28, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I am writing with my support for the parking ban on the shoulders of the Mercers. I am a mother of two elementary age children. We walk to and from school everyday on West Mercer Way. There are some days when we have to walk into the road to pass 3, 4 or more vehicles at a time. The shoulders were not intended for this purpose...they were intended for us to be able to walk (or bike) on them safely, away from the vehicles. I also have to say, as a tax payer, that when the shoulder improvements were approved, their intent was to keep drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians safe. They were not intended to provide guest parking or parking for parties for those houses near the Mercers. As for waiting for the school bus, how about walking to the bus stop on a shoulder that is free of parked cars instead of driving to the bus stop! I would also wager a guess that most of the burglars would rather park on the shoulders instead of pulling into ones driveway... If this were not such a problem, I do not think the City Council would even have raised the issue. Some of the City Council must use the road as we do, by walking or bicycling. Before you decide against this issue, you should try it yourself. It would be an eye-opening experience. I would trust my children to walk to school by themselves, its the adults behind the wheel of their cars that I don't trust!
NanCMoran February 28, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I endorse the ban. Originally when the road was paved over 30 years ago and widened, no parking was always enforced on the Mercer Ways. However, over time some people started parking and soon it has become accepted. The City Council is actually just enforcing the original measure. Also, the road does belong to the taxpayers and we have paid for safe roads for our children, pedestrians and autos, not for parking. It is might prove difficult for those living on Mercer Ways but more difficult for us who have no way to walk safely nor ride our bicycles safely nor move over from the road path as cars pass with difficulty. Safey is the first measure. The sledgehammer analogy is a bit harsh.
Charles Westergard February 28, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I too endorse the ban on daylight parking proposed by the council.  I used the Mercer Ways as my primary commute path for years.  My preferred  mode of transport was bicycle.  During my time on the roads, I witnessed a number of "close call" events between pedestrians/cyclists and cars as the pedestrians/cyclists had to move around parked vehicles blocking the shoulders,  many times on blind corners. Cyclists in particular need to give wide berth to parked traffic due to the possibility of being "doored," that is having a parked car's door swung open while you are riding past. I would also add that limiting parking would allow street maintenance crews access to clear the shoulders of debris (fallen branches, gravel, glass etc...).  The shoulders are generally not passable by cyclists when they are in such condition.  More cyclists would be willing to use these areas to allow auto traffic to pass if they were clear of both debris and parked cars making the Mercer Ways easier (and safer) to drive on too.
Jerry Goldberg March 01, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I endorse the ban as well. With the increasing use of all Merer Way roads by bicyclists it creates too much danger to have cars parked on the shoulders. I also see kids waking home along E Mercer Way on both sides of the road having to move out into the road to get around parked cars.The roads were paved as shoulders for safety reasons to give more room to traffic sharing with pedestriand and bikes, not to provide extra parking for owners' parties and other needs. The ban I believe calls for daylight hoursonly, when kids and bikes and others walking along the roads are out; at night it shoudn't be an issue.
Jim Taherzadeh March 04, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I strongly oppose this ordinance. The City of Mercer Island staff has opposed this ordinance. The Council is going against the professional advice of staff and with their own gut feel, spending millions of our money, which is not the best for residence of MI. Mercer Ways are residential streets. Most expensive houses on the Island are located by these streets. Occasional use of shoulders for parking is the right of residence, who probably pay majority of taxes for this city. Emptying the street for more bikers, which mostly come from outside of the city, does not creates more safety, but more chance of accident between motorist, walkers and bikers. Ban use of bikes, especially multiples bikes in a line, to increase the safety. Taking residence right on a gut feel of council is wrong.
x March 04, 2012 at 07:12 AM
"Ban use of bikes, especially multiples bikes in a line" Might have to change state RCW law on the books. While you're at it, ban people who walk on the "Mercers" and if they do, take aways their shoes. A good thing with banning people walking and bicycles, we can increase the speed limit to 55 MPH and install more signal lights. If people can afford to live in multi-million dollar homes, they surely can afford to install proper parking cutouts along the roadside to mitigate the problem. This comment will raise the dander of many I'm sure. I'm not opposed to occasional parking along these streets, however, homeowners haven't monitored how or where their guests park on the shoulders creating the temporary traffic hazard. If an accident is caused, who is responsible? If someone is injured or dies, who is responsible? Not the host homeowner because it was city right of way? If the city gets sued for lack of enforcement, we all get sued because one multi-million dollar homeowner pays more taxes than everyone else?
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA March 04, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Right on SD- as usual. JG-
Anonymous March 05, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I very, very rarely see a biker using the shoulder. In fact, most of the time bikers ride in the middle of the road and often two and three abreast. If this ordinance passes the City had better not only ticket cars parked in the shoulder but ticket bikers not using the shoulder. You can't keep the shoulders clear for bikers and then still allow them to ride in the middle of the road. I'm guessing a lot more tickets will be issued to bikers than to parked cars!


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