Camas to crack down on illegal Lake Road parking

City plans to put more ‘no parking’ signs, fence near popular Heritage Park

Despite "no parking" signs posted on Lake Road near Camas' Heritage Park, this Camas police photo shows scores of vehicles illegally parked on the road during the summer of 2019. Police say the illegal parking endangers pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

A Camas police photo shows cars illegally parked along Lake Road near Camas' Heritage Park during the summer of 2019. City leaders and police agree they must do more to prevent parking along the road in the future.

With warmer weather on the way, Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey says he is worried about the parking situation near Camas’ popular Heritage Park near Lacamas Lake Lodge.

“This park has an overuse issue. On warm days, boaters, swimmers and kayakers flock to the park and there’s not enough parking,” Lackey told the Camas City Council in early March.

Despite “no parking” signs along nearby Northwest Lake Road, Heritage Park users still tend to park on the side of the road — parking in the tento park tend to park on the side of the road instead of the pavement — when the designated parking lot is full, Lackey said.

“It’s very concerning to me,” he said.

“People are parked bumper to bumper all over the place (and) it’s already a busy road.”

The police chief told councilors he worries about people getting hit, especially children who are getting out of their family’s cars and excited about going to the park or lake.

“This park draws children,” Lackey said. “We have a playground there and we don’t want kids jutting out from in between cars to get to the playground.”

That’s why Lackey said he wants to “not just make it illegal to park (along Northwest Road), but impossible to park there.”

The city plans to install new signs this month reiterating the “no parking” ban along Northwest Lake Road near Heritage Park, and Lackey wants to see a physical barrier, perhaps a small fence, also installed along the roadway.

Camas’ public works director, Steve Wall, told city councilors at a March 2 Council workshop that city staff “has been making small improvements over time to handle growth at the park and along the lake,” but that his department needs help when it comes to enforcing parking safety near the park.

“We want to make it clear from (Lacamas Lake Lodge) to Lacamas Lane that there is no parking anytime,” Wall said.

“We’ve also talked about adding a fence along the side of the road … either a split-rail cedar fence or potentially a small, black chain-link (fence) that would still look nice.”

Several city councilors agreed that illegal parking on Lake Road near Heritage Park has gotten out of control.

“To me, it’s looking like Washougal River Road in the summer, and we know how dangerous that is in the summer,” said Councilwoman Melissa Smith.

Getting the word out to residents and visitors, however, will be critical, Wall said.

“I think part of the discussion is that, no matter how much outreach we do, even with the signs and fence, this still might generate some comments,” he told city councilors in early March.

“So we want to make sure the outreach piece is there and that people understand why we’re taking this step.”

Police would also “ratchet up” parking enforcement, Wall said.

City officials want to get the word out about the new no-parking enforcement before the summer season attracts crowds to Heritage Park in the hopes of preventing park users from getting a parking ticket.

“We need to get the word out,” Lackey said. “We don’t like to give parking tickets. We would rather not do that and spoil somebody’s warm, sunny day.”