Live-aboards left in a parking lurch

Dale Johnson, a seven-year live-aboard at the Port of Poulsbo, is wrankled over the lack of parking for him and his fellow live-aboards.  - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Dale Johnson, a seven-year live-aboard at the Port of Poulsbo, is wrankled over the lack of parking for him and his fellow live-aboards.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

POULSBO — Dale Johnson has been living out his childhood dream of living in a boat for the past seven years. His childhood fantasies, however, never included the frustration brought on by the one thing in his life bound to the land: his pickup truck and the lack of a space in which to leave it.

Johnson occupies one of 12 boat slips set aside for year-round, live-aboard residents. Each slip is assigned one parking placard to use one of the port’s 23 parking spaces. Sometimes there is more than one vehicle per slip. The live-aboards must compete for spaces with more than 250 boat owners who are currently using the port, as well as port employees.

Port patrons used to park on Anderson Parkway when their spots weren’t available, but Poulsbo police began enforcing the restricted overnight parking on May 17. Any car parked in Anderson Parkway between 3-6 a.m. will be tagged with a $30 parking ticket, according to Police Chief Dennis Swiney.

The Port Commission has been tasked with ensuring the sanctity of port parking. If he notices a car parked in port parking that should not be there, he calls a tow truck to have it removed.

The city has responded to the live-aboards ‘concerns by appointing a Downtown Parking Advisory Committee headed up by Poulsbo Councilman Jeff Bauman.

The city wants to eliminate overnight parking in Anderson Parkway to motivate people to find other places to park when they go out on their boats, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said.

“What (the Port) can do is make steps toward providing parking for their own customers,” she said.

Ticketing between 3-6 a.m. doesn’t help the merchants, Port Commissioner Arnold Bockus said.

No shops are open at 3 a.m. and some cars are left overnight because the drivers may have overindulged in alcohol, he said.

Johnson agreed.

“It’s just really poor judgement, I think,” Johnson said. “One, you’re encouraging people to drive after they’ve been drinking. Two, all you’re doing is trying to make money.”

Parking is always going to be a problem in the downtown area and the port, Johnson said. It’s all about land, and there’s none available.

Bockus emphasized that live-aboards are a priority, but the port is out of options.

“Live-aboards are an important part of the port, and we like them there, and we want them to stay there,” Bockus said. “I wish there was a way we could snap our fingers and say ‘Hey, there’s a huge parking space right there for 250 cars,’ but there isn’t.”

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