Emotions run high during North Bend, Wash., truck parking public hearing

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The truck parking saga in North Bend, Wash., continues as the city council has approved yet another extension on the temporary amendment banning development for parking spaces and facilities. Fewer people spoke during the March 15 public hearing, but comments from a trucker indicated emotions were still high.

Last Tuesday, the North Bend city council held a public hearing to extend the controversial amendment. The original amendment was passed in April 2014 and has gone through two other extensions.

On Jan. 28, the planning commission conducted a public hearing to make the amendment permanent. Recommendations for the city council to proceed with a permanent amendment were approved on Feb. 11.

However, all city code revisions must undergo a 60-day review by the state Department of Commerce. North Bend asked the DOC to expedite the process since the amendment extension expires within that time. DOC declined the request. Last Tuesday’s public hearing was to grant another short-term extension while the DOC completes its review.

While more than a dozen spoke at the Jan. 28 hearing, only four citizens spoke during the March 15 meeting. Sam Rodabough, legal counsel for the truck stop property owners, mentioned the facility has served North Bend since 1941. In addition to warmth and friendliness, Rodabough attributed the truck stop’s success to geography as well.

“Unless one knows how to move mountains, including Snoqualmie Pass and its ancient peaks, geography all but ensures that North Bend will remain a haven for truckers, whether they are welcome or not,” Rodabough said.

Rodabough went on to say the amendment causes a public safety problem rather than solves one. He said a lack of a solution revealed “failed leadership.”

“Nearly every item in this room is here because of a trucker,” Rodabough said.

A plea for communication between property owners and the city was made by Rodabough, noting there has been a lack of outreach. Potential litigation may occur if the city and the land owners do not come to an agreement.

Patrick Baker, a dump truck owner-operator and WSDOT snowplow driver, gave an emotional speech about his experiences as a trucker. A 14-year resident of the area, Baker mentioned the limitations inflicted on truckers because of hours-of-service regulations.

“It’s kind of like being a second-class citizen, driving a truck,” Baker said.

Before he left the platform, Baker had one correction regarding Rodabough’s speech.

“Almost everything came in a truck? That’s absolutely wrong,” Baker said. “Everything came in a truck.”

The short-term extension was unanimously approved by the city council. On April 5, the planning commission will bring its recommendation for a permanent amendment to the city council.

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