Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cars blocking sidewalks?

Do you have cars blocking sidewalks in your neighborhood?

Ever have to walk out into the street, because a car or truck is parked in a driveway with the body of the vehicle totally blocking a sidewalk? Maybe at night? Or in the morning? Or during the day?

Woodstock Police enforce the State law about this, and there may also be local ordinance to prohibit parking of a vehicle to block a sidewalk. It's a perfect ordinance for the city's Administrative Adjudication Court, not the McHenry County Circuit Court.

This one could probably be used: City Code 6.1A.6: "OBSTRUCTION OF STREETS: No person shall create or maintain any obstruction of any street, alley, sidewalk or other public way, ..." Would a vehicle be an "obstruction"?

There are many ways to handle this, especially in view of uneven or lax enforcement up until now. Probably a good, resident-friendly way would be for the beat officer to stop  and personally inform the owner or driver of such a vehicle that it is parked in violation of the law. One warning should suffice. If the violation continues, write a ticket. And keep writing the tickets until the owner or driver gets the message and complies.

The grace period should be one violation per residence. Inform the driver and the owner of the property. This will avoid needless, in-person, return visits for different vehicles. The first violator gets a break; the rest get tickets. Let the property owner have some responsibility to informing his guests.

Vehicles with out-of-state plates might get a break, the first time. Can someone call the PD and say they have an over-size vehicle in the driveway that is blocking the street? Police cannot give permission to break a law.

Personally, I think that out-of-state, overnight vehicles ought to get a warning notice the first night, rather than a "Welcome to Woodstock. Pay $5 (or is it $10 now) ticket. Have a good time and enjoy our city." Yeah, right.

I recall my first morning in Woodstock. Thanks for the $5 parking ticket. And no one at the police department had authority to excuse it; the chief (in February 1996) was out of town. They told me there were signs on all the major roads into Woodstock, apprising arrivals of the no-overnight-parking law." So I went out and looked for them. They weren't there!

You know? Maybe if someone at the City Police Station on that first morning would have said, "You're right. This ticket is wrong. We'll take care of it", I might not be writing this blog right now.

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