RACINE — An ambiguous legal term regarding parking has caused some headaches for one neighborhood.
An ordinance that will soon go before the City Council will clarify the city’s ordinance regarding large-vehicle parking and, hopefully, resolve the neighborhood issue.
The proposed ordinance change would allow police officers to issue a citation based on the amount a vehicle is registered to weigh, rather than having to physically weigh the vehicle.
Deb Monefeldt from Russet Street spoke to the City Council during the public comment segment at the Dec. 18 meeting in favor of the ordinance change.
Monefeldt told the council that one of her neighbors brings home heavy construction equipment such as flatbeds and oversize trailers. The latest vehicle has been a construction truck outfitted with a dump truck bed, which she said was parked there for quite a while.
“I wish we could rely on common sense and courtesy from neighbors throughout the city, and I think most people operate like that on a daily basis,” Monefeldt told the council. “But unfortunately, there are people who don’t, and that’s where we need the legal support that I’m asking you for this evening.”
Monefeldt said she did not feel safe approaching the neighbor directly, so she went to the Racine Police Department. She was told that because of how the ordinances for large vehicles are written, police could cite the vehicle if they saw it driving on her street but couldn’t issue a citation for it being parked.
“ ‘It’s obviously not levitating there,’ “ Monefeldt quoted the officer as telling her. “But unless the resident were to be stopped while driving it, there was little he could do even if it is clear that there is a violation.”
Closing a loophole
If approved by the council on Tuesday, ordinance 0008-18 would amend municipal ordinance 94-128, which states that large vehicles cannot be parked on a public street or alley for more than 30 minutes every 24 hours, with exceptions.
The ordinance defines a heavy vehicle as one that is longer than 30 feet in length, wide enough to obstruct the flow of traffic when parked and weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
Nhu Arn with the City Attorney’s office said an RPD investigator for traffic violations told her that, because they cannot weigh a parked vehicle and the ordinance isn’t clear if that weight should include its load or not, if the vehicle didn’t fit the other criteria there was nothing police could do.
Another ordinance, which limits driving heavy vehicles to federal or county highways, ordinance 94-312. defines heavy vehicles as “having a combined weight of vehicle and load in excess of 10,000 pounds or registered in excess of 10,000 pounds.”
The parking ordinance will be amended to match the definition in the driving ordinance.
Most people may not have noticed the difference between the two ordinances if it hadn’t come up in a disagreement between neighbors.
The Public Works and Services Committee voted to send the ordinance to the full council with a recommendation for approval.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers, 730 Washington Ave., Room 205.