It may seem unbelievable, but in the age of social media, one decorative rock has gotten a very bad reputation very quickly. Chances are, if you’re a driver impacted, all you have to say is you ‘hit the rock’ and many know exactly what you’re talking about.
And it seems over the past two months the rock as developed a “love-it or hate-it” social media fan base as residents have taken to Facebook to post photos of car after car (as well as drivers) in an embarrassing situation: high-centered on a rock that is cemented into a narrow planting strip at the entrance to a Snoqualmie Ridge retail building parking lot.
The parking lot is pretty busy as it houses businesses like Anytime Fitness, Ana’s Mexican Restaurant, Early Learning Center, Snoqualmie Valley Kids Dentist and the Snoqualmie Ridge ROA office.
According to social media photos and comments, as well as others who have messaged us, in the past two months about 12 vehicles have either hit the rock or been high-centered on it, including my daughter who clipped the back tire of our truck on the curb just last week, ripping the running board off. One business owner, though, put that number at closer to 20 impacted cars.
Luckily my daughter didn’t high-center, nor require a tow truck for a truck-rock removal. She simply threw the running board (and pieces of a Dodge bumper who hit it before her) in the truck bed and sulked home, reluctantly relinquishing her clean driving record.
When she told me what happened I said, “No… not that darn [insert stronger word for full effect] rock.” And then proceeded to inform her she might be shamed on Facebook, which seemed more terrifying than hitting the rock she said she never saw.
I went back and drove the entrance, and sure enough what she said was true – the rock is shorter that the hedge that lines the planting strip prior to where the rock was cemented in. It didn’t excuse the fact that she hit it, but it did help explain why she and many others are hitting this rock.
Never Saw it – Bad Driver Debate Erupts
“Never saw it” seems to be a common description from others who have hit it. “Bad drivers” seems to be the common social media description from others who can’t understand how anyone could hit a rock in a parking strip. Seems this one rock is also very divisive in the community.
But it turns out, the rock – and what was there before the property manager cemented it in – have a rich history of run-ins with local cars. And the problem that the rock was designed to fix – drivers going up on this narrow planting strip as they make a right turn and maneuver the tight parking lot – hasn’t been solved.
Some say the rock is there to prevent cars from clipping the curb and hitting a car parked in the adjacent parking spot, but in every photo of high centered vehicles, no car is parked there. In fact, drivers says it is helpful to have a car parked there when entering the lot because the parked car alerts you to how far the median/strip extends.
According to one business owner, cars have been hitting whatever is in this narrow parking lot planting strip for many years now. First a tree, then a bush, then the non-cemented in boulder, which would cause it to roll into the parking lot and become another hazard.
A business owner said tenants the building have been required to pay extra year end triple net charges to cover the cost of landscape damages and curb repairs.
One local driver’s ed instructor said she doesn’t believe the rock needs to be in the planting strip/median – that the rock isn’t protecting the building or a car if parked there. She said the median itself protects the adjacent parking spot. Her solution? Remove the rock and leave it paved. She said a blind spot exists at the entrance to the parking lot due to the overalldesign of the lot, entrance and landscaping.
Regardless, about a year ago, the decision was made to cement the rock in – as well as install another [taller] rock into the planting strip on the opposite side of the parking lot entrance on Kinsey Street.
And as they say: Let the games begin.
Now, instead of damaged landscape or a rock being pushed into the parking lot, cars are sustaining the damage – and on a pretty regular basis it seems.
We talked to a few drivers who admitted to high centering and/or hitting their vehicles on the rock – to attempt to understand how this is repeatedly happening.
The common theme for those who ended up on the rock is they could not see how far the planing strip extended into the parking lot – nor could they see the rock. They wrongly thought the planting strip ended after the hedge. They turned right too soon and drove right up onto the rock, which is shorter than the hedge. As they never saw the rock, they also didn’t know what they were on at first.
Since the end of March, at least six cars have made this costly mistake and ended up high centered. In January another vehicle sustained $8,000 in damage. According to one business owner, the vehicle’s owner let the property manager know about the damage.
In mid March, Karisa Rice also turned too soon in her 2007 Nissan Altima. She blew out her tire and seriously damaged her car. She said it was $1,300 to fix the damaged tire and wheel, but in the end the car sustained another $9,000 in damage. As the damage was worth more than the car, her insurance totaled the vehicle. She never reported the incident to police or the property manager.
Swayam Kar said his wife high centered their SUV with $2500 in damage incurred. The wife of another local business owner damaged her passenger side door with a $1300 bill. An instructor at Anytime Fitness said one of their members sustained “thousands in damage” after encountering the rock. As for us, we don’t have an estimate yet, but in addition to the running board ripping off, the bottom of both passenger doors, as well as the lower frame of the truck body are dented.
The Snoqualmie Police Department is aware of this rock’s bad reputation, but as it is private property their job is to take incident reports for those who chose to report, and many don’t appear to be reporting their rock encounters to police.
Property Manager Responds
JSH Properties, who manages the retail building and parking lot, was asked to comment as to how long they have known about issues surrounding the rock – and if they plan to add additional signage or reflectors to help improve the issue.
JSH did not respond regarding how long they’ve known about the rock, but did say on the day this story ran they would install a bollard to the planting strip as a solution.
On Wednesday, May 25th, workers installed a bollard (3 foot steel pole) near the base of what has become known as “Rock on the Ridge” (complete with its own Facebook page). The pole will also be painted yellow and is visible above the hedge that lines the parking lot entrance.
Hoping to Stop the Car Carnage
The hope in doing this story, is that ours would be the last vehicle damaged, but we waited too long to publish and an SUV was high centered the day after our incident occurred last week.
So for now folks – BE AWARE. You can say you are a good driver, going slowly, paying attention – and it would never happen to you. But that’s the way many drivers felt until they found themselves stranded, beached on a rock they said is hard to see.
And now you also have a yellow pole to contend with…. and in lieu of rock removal, there’s not much else that can be done it seems.
To summarize, Snoqualmie now has a pole protecting a rock…. and it’s still murky what the rock was protecting, but it sure is a famous rock now – even KIRO News did a story it today.
Happy incident free, safe driving Snoqualmie Valley – and watch out for that darn rock… and now pole!