City watchdog in parking fight with city

“One night I got so depressed I put a gun to my head and I pulled the trigger, but (it) didn’t go off,” said Alan Shute, a Bremerton resident who has fits of depression related to a terminal illness, Hepatitis C.

A gun malfunction saved his life.

Now, three months later, Shute is spearheading a 24-hour, one-man crusade to exploit a loophole in the city lawbooks.

“My brother says ‘You are like David versus Goliath,” Shute said.

Take a stroll down to Bremerton’s Evergreen Park, home to manicured green lawns where people play Frisbee, and you will see Shute’s yellow school bus and 40-foot trailer, taking up the length of six parking spaces for the last few weeks.

Shute, who is disabled and homeless, is using his handicapped placard to park his caravan wherever he wants because he says it’s his right.

Currently, he has struck a deal with a landowner on National Avenue in West Bremerton to park his caravan for free — for at least a few weeks.

He says he is being “harassed” and “singled out” by the city because he is homeless. He claims City Attorney Roger Lubovich told Diamond Parking Director Bob Duprie to give him a ticket any time he could.

“I didn’t say that,” Lubovich said. “I looked at the law and said if you want to ticket him go ahead. If everybody wanted to live in a right-of-way with their trailers we would have a big problem.”

He said his Fourth Street office is getting complaint calls every day about the man’s vehicles — people want his caravan moved immediately.

Problem is, neither Lubovich nor the Police Chief Rob Forbes has the ability to order Shute to move.

“According to the state disability act, you can park anywhere you want and there’s no time limit,” Shute said, paraphrasing Chapter 46.61.582 of the State’s law on motor vehicles.

Shute has two placards — one for his truck and one for his bus — that he prominently displays from the front mirrors.

Currently, Bremerton’s city lawbook, the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC), needs updating regarding camping in parks or public places, said Lubovich.

In June of 2003, he drafted a new ordinance, entitled “Camping,” that has not been approved by city council yet, but could apply criminal penalties toward extended camping in parks and streets.

Lubovich says the exact penalties are still being tweaked.

He is working on dozens of new ordinances, and says other ones have currently taken precedence. The camping ordinance could come up for council approval within the month, he said, but he won’t nail down a date.

“It’s not the highest priority, but it is on the front screen,” Lubovich said in his office last week.

To date, Shute said he has been given five tickets for parking in a right-of-way.

According to Section 10.11 of the BMC, parking non-motorized vehicles, such as Shute’s camper, in excess of 72 hours on a street, is unlawful.

Shute also has been charged with third-degree theft for an incident on March 26 in which someone allegedly witnessed him steal electricity from a lot owned by Diamond Parking.

His court appearance is scheduled for next Thursday, April 22 in Bremerton’s Municipal Court.

Shute moved to Bremerton from Kent four years ago. Ironically, Lubovich was city attorney of Kent before taking the job at Bremerton, but the two did not meet until they both moved to Bremerton.

Shute visits nearly every city Council meeting. He approaches the podium during the public recognition section of the meeting and speaks or complains on a variety of issues, from the city’s lack of control over speeding cars to parking issues. Sometimes he will offer appreciation for work a city official is doing.

Sometimes he personally addresses Lubovich at the meeting.

Shute was first diagnosed with the often deadly viral disease Hepatitis C in 1992. It usually leads to liver failure, and affects 3.9 million people in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control.

“When I first found out they said I had a year to live,” he said.

That was 29 years ago.

Today, Shute takes a combination of pills just to get the energy to walk.

“Have you ever had the flu so bad you can’t get out of bed?” he said. “l (feel that way) every day.”

Shute is consulting with an attorney on what to do next. He currently has a number of parking tickets to pay off and is considering legal action against the city.

“It’s not about the money, it’s the principal,” he said.

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