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Highlands offers initial parking plan

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Board of Directors hopes King City council will follow its common-sense ideas on dealing with traffic problem

When the Highlands was developed in the 1980s, there was pretty much bare land around the 55-plus community at the intersection of Beef Bend Road and 131st Avenue except for King City. But 30 years later, nearby housing developments and Deer Creek Elementary have brought traffic and other issues that the Board of Directors felt could no longer be ignored.

So last year a petition was started to request annexation into King City, which meant that the community would no longer be in unincorporated Washington County but would be part of a city that could provide regular police patrols, street maintenance and solutions to keep outsiders from parking on Highlands streets, among other benefits.

A year after the annexation process started, the Highlands board is ready to present its parking plan to King City officials, who themselves have been working to come up with a citywide, long-term parking plan.

Residents in southeast King City on streets next to Fischer Road got the city to establish a permit-parking zone to prevent apartment dwellers from across Fischer Road from parking in front of their homes; another request for a parking zone has come from some residents of Jordan Way who see increased parking by outsiders on their loop road, but not all the neighbors are on board with that plan.

Highlands residents say they do not have a problem with Deer Creek parents parking on their streets during the occasional all-school event when the school parking lot overflows and no parking is allowed on 131st. But they do have an issue with Deer Creek and other drivers blocking visibility for Highlands drivers going in and out of the two community's two entrances – Peachvale on the north and Dickson on the south.

"Our parking proposal is quite simple," said Dave Platt, president of the Highlands Board of Directors. "We want two no-parking zones – one on the south side of Peachvale from 131st to the driveway into the condos and the other one on the north side of Dickson from 131st to the entrance to the walking trail.

"When people are parked on both sides of those streets right to the corner, it is hard to see to pull out, and it can be congested if you have people pulling in and out at the same time with parked cars on both sides."

An apartment complex along with single-family homes are under construction on the south side of Dickson, "and we assume the apartment residents will park on their side of Dickson," Platt said. "The entrance to the apartments is on Dickson. Farther away from 131st there is kind of a blind curve on Dickson so allowing parking on only one side would help with visibility."

Platt envisions signs going up at the Highlands entrances that read something like "Parking for King City Highlands residents and guests only," and he added, "Hopefully, people who pay attention to signs will adhere to that and not flood into our neighborhood."

The Highlands board, which has formed a parking committee comprised of six people, is considering issuing small parking stickers for Highlands residents to voluntarily put on the driver's side of their vehicles' windshields so if a high number of vehicles are parked in front of residents' homes on Dickson, residents could keep track of and report those without stickers.

"We've established a method to funnel those calls to a couple individuals so as not to flood King City police with calls about the same vehicles," Platt said.

"There also has been some discussion about painting the curbs by mailboxes and fire hydrants or putting up 'Do not block' signs, because some people just don't know not to park there."

Platt conceded that there are some residents who complain, "Why solve problems that haven't happened yet?"

And he admitted that not every resident will be equally impacted because those living on the fringes of the Highlands will see more traffic and parking problems, which Platt knows firsthand. He lives in the first cul de sac off Peachvale next to 131st, where during Deer Creek events, parents park in every allowable space between driveways despite the steepness of the street.

"And after it is full, every third car that drives in on Peachvale turns up our street to see if any parking spaces are left," he said. "Otherwise, there is a 10- to 15-minute flurry of drivers and people parking at the beginning and end of the school day. We just live with it – it's not a big deal."