Ban on parking in grass hits detour

Vehicles are parked in a tree lawn Tuesday in Elkhart despite an ordinance restricting the practice. City officials say they are examining which department should be enforcing the ordinance – code enforcement, zoning or police. 

ELKHART — Officials are still trying to determine which department is responsible for enforcing an ordinance restricting parking on green space within city limits 

“We’re still looking at that,” said Jim Holtz, who leads the Building & Code Enforcement Department. “We’re meeting with the police department and zoning to come up with a plan on that.”

Holtz was asked about the issue Tuesday by Board of Public Safety Vice Chairman Jean Mayes. She did not appear satisfied with the answer.

“I think, since we’re not doing anything, it’s happening more and more. You’re seeing more and more cars parking in the grass,” she said.

Holtz said code officers are taking photos of cars parked in green spaces and sending them to the Planning & Zoning Department, which then manages citations.

Public safety board member Kevin Segner said the ordinance was created around 2006. He said it was his impression the police department would enforce it.

“It seems to me like that would have been figured out after about 13 years,” Segner said.

According to Holtz, code enforcement had taken on the job when there were more code officers. In addition to having had the number of code officers cut, the department isn’t checking for violations after business hours, which is when the most vehicles are parked in green spaces, he said.

“So we’re looking at who is actually responsible for that,” Holtz said.

The departments trying to make that determination are waiting on the completion of a study from the Public Works & Utilities Department, according to Holtz.

“Sounds like bureaucracy took over here and it’s going nowhere,” Segner said.

Holtz said he expects the involved departments will meet within a month or so.

Chief of Police Chris Snyder said he wasn’t sure if police officers can write tickets for violations of this ordinance.

Hayes said having police officers enforce the ordinance might be a good idea.

“If a police officer puts a ticket on a car, people will think twice when they see that police car,” she said.

Snyder said that, since there are officers on the streets at all times, that could make sense, but that the department will not be enforcing the ordinance until it is clear they have the authority to do so. He said there are also some questions as to exactly when parking in a green space is a violation.

When Segner asked if anyone is leading the talks, Snyder said no one in particular is. Hayes said it is “crazy” that no one who oversees the safety of the city has been put on the committee.

“That doesn’t make sense to me,” she said. “There should be someone from here representing.”

The board then pointed to Segner as its representative in the next meeting, at the invitation of Snyder and Holtz.

“I don’t think it’d be that difficult,” Segner said. “It could take, from the day it started, maybe a couple of weeks.” 

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

(2) comments

Seven

The police department has a full time parking enforcement officer. Task him with this responsibility.

405688

That would be the Common Sense/Awareness department. Oh wait, it does not exist!

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