SLO’s parking law put in idle

acornejo@thetribunenews.comNovember 8, 2012 

A stern and convoluted law intended to further limit parking vehicles such as
motor homes, trailers and boats on San Luis Obispo streets is on hold for more public opinion.

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously to postpone adopting the new ordinance, which the council was expected to do Wednesday night, until more residents and community groups could share their input.

The ordinance would prohibit the following on all city streets, including residential areas:

• All vehicles over 22 feet in length from midnight to 5 a.m., including those with
attached trailers.

• Unattached trailers at all times.

Residents could apply for a permit allowing them to park an oversized vehicle on the street within 75 feet of the address the vehicle is registered to for up to 72 hours. As the ordinance is written now, those vehicles could park there for no more than three days in any seven-day period.

Some council members asked that additional options be considered for limiting how often the permits will be issued.

Visitors would also have to apply for a permit, which would be limited to three consecutive nights and no more than five per year.

City officials say the new law is intended to deal with traffic safety, neighborhood blight and public health and safety risks, such as leaking sewage from storage tanks.

Community concerns about the proposed ordinance vary. Carolyn Smith, a member of Residents for Quality Neighborhoods, said that allowing a resident to apply for a permit once every seven days wouldn’t solve the existing problem.

Sandra Rowley, chairwoman of Residents for Quality Neighborhoods, said the 75-foot allowance would simply allow people to park their motor homes or trailers in front of someone else’s house.

Others, such as resident Richard Schmidt, said more attention should be given to repairing sidewalks and clearing storm drains rather than enforcing more parking regulations.

The city zoning code prohibits vehicles from parking in the same place for more than 72 hours, but cars or recreational vehicles can move 500 feet to avoid a citation or being towed.

“Essentially we are trying to close the loophole from people moving things around the city, which is an ongoing issue,” said Carrie Mattingly, interim public works director.

A September workshop held at the library to gather community feedback on the new law fizzled after most of the audience tied the city’s intentions to further limiting the homeless from parking on the streets.

Many homeless advocates asked for the homeless to be exempt from the new restrictions, but city staff contends that doing so would make the rule inequitable by favoring a group based on socioeconomic status.

The council recently reaffirmed its stance against allowing people to sleep in their vehicles by adopting an ordinance that specifically prohibits it.

Councilman Dan Carpenter, who has said that there is not a growing problem with oversized vehicles on city streets, said he is concerned that the ordinance will be difficult to enforce because it is so complicated.

“If we don’t have enough resources to implement and enforce this, then we don’t need it,” Carpenter said.

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