Does the city have a responsibility to take care of alleys?

A frustrated family brought a neighborhood problem to the City Council Wednesday night, which sparked a discussion about the city’s responsibility for property it owns but doesn‘t maintain.

The family said they’ve asked city code enforcement and the police for help dealing with a gem of a neighbor who persistently parks at the entrance to their Rucker Hill driveway. The driveway is only accessible from an unimproved city-owned alleyway. The couple has two young children, one with a medical condition, and they’re concerned about access in a medical emergency. The problem has gotten so bad, the family said they would consider buying the alleyway if the city would vacate the property. They also suggested the city post “no parking” signs in the alley.

“Everyone is telling us we are out of luck,” the man said. “We’ve been asking for help for two years and we’re at our wit’s end.”

City attorney Jim Iles said that even though the land belongs to the city, it’s not maintained by the city and the family’s best option is a civil lawsuit against the neighbor. He also said the city’s code enforcement staff doesn’t have the manpower to police every alleyway or put up signs.

Councilman Arlan Hatloe said he didn’t buy that and wondered how difficult it would be for the city to put up some signs. After more discussion, the council asked city staff for a briefing on the issue. It sounds as if the issue will come up again later in April.

I’m wondering if alleys are an issue in your Everett neighborhood. If they are, please chime in below.

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