Residents spoke up and city officials listened Monday night, looking to improve safety on Cape Hope Way — a small stretch of city roadway off North Fifth Avenue.
Within the week, City of Sequim staff plan to remove parking on the north side of the city street that spans less than 35 feet. Despite its relatively small size, the roadway serves as an entry point and parking for multiple entities, including Olympic Medical Center, Sequim Community Church and residents of Clasen Cove Estates.
Residents said the street has become unsafe to travel for at least a year, with congestion from parking and various larger vehicles like ambulances and garbage trucks trying to traverse the area.
“It is a safety concern to us and is currently a very dangerous road to travel as presently configured,” Carol Thomson, a resident in Clasen Cove Estates, said at Monday’s Sequim City Council meeting.
She and other residents filled the council’s chambers to express their concern.
Thomson said employees began parking all day long on the south side of Cape Hope Way starting about a year ago. Eventually they began parking on the roadway’s north side, she said, heightening the residents’ concerns.
Homeowners and city officials said they met to seek a solution.
Sequim public works director David Garlington said Monday that homeowners suggested putting up signs reading, “Compact Parking Only” (following Clallam County Fire Department’s suggestion), and city staff did so. But drivers continued to park larger vehicles in the area.
Thomson said for the police to enforce the parking rule would be a waste of their time.
Monte Ostrom, president of the 41-home Clasen Cove Estates, told city councilors that residents continued to wonder when there will be a solution.
“When we first moved here, it was convenient to get into town (and) in the complex; if someone needed medical help, they could get here fast,” Ostrom said.
“At one time, an emergency vehicle couldn’t get in because a vehicle had to get out of their way.”
Don Berger, another estates resident, said traffic backs up on Fifth Avenue if a vehicle of “significant size” is trying to turn onto Cape Hope Way.
“It seems like common sense,” he said. “It may be more convenient for OMC parking, but I don’t see where convenience trumps safety.”
Jan Johannessen, a Clasen Cove Estates resident and OMC Cancer Center employee, said patients with larger cars are afraid to drive at night because of the road’s conditions.
She said there’s no reason for employees to park on the road because there’s plenty of parking behind the facilities.
Estates resident Jack Schramm said drivers are opting to go through Sequim Community Church’s parking lot rather than use Cape Hope Way, but that they are not stopping at nearby stop signs.
“From a personal point of view, there’s really no way we can take a truck and trailer and expect to pass an ambulance or delivery truck,” he said.
Estates board vice-president Harry Grandstrom said he visited OMC’s campus and spoke with multiple patients and employees about their impressions of Cape Hope Way.
Their quotes to him, he said, ranged from “It’s a mess” to “I no longer drive it” and from “I’m afraid of getting side-swiped” to “It’s risen to the top as the worst street to drive in Sequim.”
City staff said they have reached out to OMC’s CEO Eric Lewis, and that he intends to send out an employee-wide email asking them to respect the city’s signs and for the campus security to engage in one-on-one conversations with people not abiding by the signs.
Garlington said he was optimistic that the city’s solutions would work — at least, incrementally.
“We have a philosophy in the city where we don’t like to take parking away,” he said. “Parking is a valuable commodity in a lot of places … The responses we get are people are upset about taking parking away.”
However, Garlington said, “the testimony tonight was compelling.”
“I felt that I heard things that made Cape Hope different from other city streets and because of that the solution is to eliminate parking on the north side,” he said.
Upon giving his recommendation, residents applauded.
City councilors agreed, with Ted Miller saying “it’s the only solution,” and Brandon Janisse saying he’d prefer both of the sides of the road closed to parking “if it’s a safety issue.”
Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said they’ll start with removing parking from the north side, and that, “if it continues to be an issue, we’ll reevaluate from there.”
Garlington said removing parking from the north side should suffice as it provides an additional 7 feet of driving space.
For more information about Sequim city streets, call Sequim Public Works at 360-683-4908.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.