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Parking sign causes controversy in Bremerton, leads to threat of class-action suit

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BREMERTON, Wash. -- There’s a fight over parking signs in Bremerton. A complaint filed in Kitsap County is paving the way for a class-action lawsuit over what the parking signs look like downtown.

Dark blue signs line the streets of downtown Bremerton.

“I think they’re a little hard to see and a little hard to read,” said Kathy Perkins, who works in Bremerton.

The signs have looked like this for more than a decade, ever since the city revitalized its downtown.

Part of that revitalization meant changing many of the signs to a dark blue color with white lettering.

The city of Bremerton says those comply with the law.

“To me they were just another blue tourist sign to ignore, just like when you’re on the highway you see the tourist info signs, food services on the highway, all those signs are blue and white,” said George Karl, who filed the complaint against the city of Bremerton.

In 2014, Karl said he got a ticket for parking in an area he thought didn’t have parking restrictions.

It wasn’t until later that he noticed the one-hour parking signs were not the type he’s use to seeing.

Karl claims the parking signs violate state and federal laws because he says they’re not the right color of white with red or green lettering.

“The City of Bremerton just decided to choose to make up their own colors; that doesn’t follow with the national standards of federal law,” added Karl.

Late last week, a Kitsap County judge agreed, clearing the way for a class-action lawsuit that can include anyone who got a parking ticket in Bremerton dating back to 2012.

Thousands of drivers can be impacted because just last year, the city says more than 5,000 tickets were written.

“I think it’s a valid argument, I do. I definitely think they’re not easy to read and especially if you’re not from around here you wouldn’t necessarily notice them,” added Perkins.

However, others disagree and say it’s up to the driver to pay attention to the area they park in.

“I think they’re legible, they don’t appear to be unreadable. I mean they’re contrasting colors, anybody who can read can read them,” said Stephen Frye, who recently moved to Bremerton.

Karl also has a concern with the private company the city has hired to write the tickets. He believes those tickets should be written by city workers.

The attorney handling the case said they will move forward, hoping to file the class-action lawsuit in the next few months.