News

Sunset Garage ordinance tabled

NORTH BEND - City Council members decided to postpone a vote regarding an ordinance that would have offered financial incentives to a property owner to fix his damaged downtown building.

At the April 6 City Council meeting, members were expected to approve an ordinance that would have offered John Glazier $6,500 from the 2004 facade assistance program plus expedited permitting and help from city staff in applying for a tax break on the property to remove a portion of his historic building known as the "prow." The prow is a small storefront area on the Sunset Garage building at the corner of Bendigo Boulevard and North Bend Way that has become a target for trucks making illegal turns.

According to Councilman Mark Sollitto, who originally proposed the ordinance last month, the prow has been hit by trucks six times in the last 18 months. Sollitto's proposal would've seen the prow removed and the sidewalks on the corner expanded from three- to six-feet wide.

On the weekend before the meeting the prow was repaired, leaving Sollitto considering his options.

In a study session held prior to the meeting, Sollitto initially said he was ready to move forward with the ordinance, but decided later that postponing the vote until the prow was struck by a vehicle again, or for about nine to 12 months, would be a decent compromise.

"It might be prudent to declare victory in that the prow has been fixed," said Sollitto.

Mayor pro tem Bill Wittress said waiting for the next incident to revisit the subject was not on his agenda.

"I have a very hard time taking a wait-and-see approach," said Wittress.

The prow area, with its small sidewalks and penchant for getting struck by trucks, is a safety hazard, Wittress said, and the issue needs to be visited by the city's Public Health and Safety Committee and brought back to council next month.

"We're inviting a lawsuit," said Wittress. "I couldn't stand in a court of law and say it wasn't foreseeable."

Councilwoman Karen Tavenner agreed, stating that not only was the work done without a permit, but that after months of the prow remaining in disrepair following the January accident, it took a proposed ordinance to "force the hand" of the owner. That, she said, sets a bad precedent.

City Administrator George Martinez said there are no city code enforcement officers that work on the weekends so the problem wasn't caught at that time, but the city would be following up on the permit issue.

Councilman Chris Garcia suggested that the city might be able to help solve some safety issues through better signage, restriping the road or eliminating the right turn lane on eastbound North Bend Way.

Wittress said the city shouldn't have to make such accommodations for one landowner.

North Bend resident Terril Perrine suggested the city work with the landowner to possibly acquire the property for use as a new city hall. Perrine said not only would the property's "showcase" location make it worthwhile, the current city hall digs located off Main Street could be cleared and used for an expansion of the worn-out fire station.

City Council is expected to revisit the issue at its regular meeting on May 4 to determine in what direction it will proceed with the safety concerns.

Travis Peterson can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at travis.peterson-@valleyrecord.com.

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