LAKE JACKSON — Residents’ requests to have special circumstances allow them to park in their yards were not enough to make City Council reconsider the ordinance that bans the practice.
Council’s conversation began in July 2018 when a resident of Mesquite Street said people parking in the grass and a high number of cars at one home were starting to make her neighborhood look trashy.
By September 2018, council passed both readings of the ordinance prohibiting people from parking on their lawns and it became law Jan. 1.
The ordinance applies only to areas of yards that can be seen from a city’s right-of-way and does not apply to smaller recreational vehicles such as golf carts. The ordinance allows a 72-hour exemption for parties or overnight guests, City Attorney Sherri Russell said.
Jon Matula asked if the council could reconsider the ordinance on roads like South Blunk Street, where he owns a house. South Blunk is a 17-foot-wide asphalt street and has open ditches, unlike most streets in the city that are 27 feet wide, concrete and have closed ditches, Matula said.
“This street is a little different situation than most streets in Lake Jackson,” he said.
Residents cannot park on the street on South Blunk because if cars lined both sides, there would be about one foot of space for traffic to pass through, Matula said.
Cars cannot block the street so emergency vehicles can get through, Russell said.
There have been several tickets issued on South Blunk because of the issue, Matula said.
Councilman Buster Buell asked why Matula’s tenants, who live at the South Blunk home, can’t park in the driveway.
There are already cars in the driveway whose owners have to leave at a certain time for work, so one vehicle parks off to the side, Matula said. There is also no limit to the number of vehicles a Lake Jackson resident can own, so they should not all have to fit in a driveway, he said.
It would be fairly easy to exclude South Blunk, Willenberg Street and Southern Oaks Drive from the ordinance, Russell said, but that decision would be up to council. Officials pointed out that those three are not the only asphalt streets in the city.
It is not the city’s responsibility to provide parking for residents, City Manager Bill Yenne said.
This ordinance was driven by residents’ request, Councilman Gerald Roznovsky said, adding residents did not want to have their neighbors parking in front yards next to them.
The solution here is to improve the surface so the vehicle can park on it rather than the grass, Mayor Bob Sipple said.
Winding Way resident Tracy Westergaard said he has a similar problem on Saturday nights, when he moves a car beside his driveway so his mother can have easier access to the car that picks her up for church.
Again, council suggested his solution would be to shuffle his vehicles around or improve a parking surface.