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Stupid City Code Vehicle Parking Violations

Updated on November 4, 2016

Many cities, if not most, have some fairly nonsensical laws that can drive car owners crazy. Take, Vehicle Code 11-20.100, of Santa Rosa, CA., which states: “A vehicle\boat\trailer left standing more than 72 hours on any street or alley, running or not, is subject to citation or towing after 72 hours if not moved”. It, then, goes on: “Vehicles stored on such street moved only short distances do not comply”.

And then there is VC 11-36.160, which states: “ Vehicles, licensed or not, operative or not, may not be left, stored, or abandoned on private or public property for more than 72 hours”.

These two codes raise a myriad of issues that police dread. Unless the parking enforcement patrol is notified by an angry neighbor or ex-spouse, or, the vehicle has obvious signs of abandonment, or, the patrol marked the tires on previous occasions, there is no way to ascertain its status. If the car is registered and in good condition, the law is pointless because it is violated all the time by residents who park on the public street for weeks\months. What is the point of a public street if you are limited to parking there for 72 hours before you need to move it to another spot on the same street? On my street alone, we have an old GMC truck, which does run, but seldom driven for weeks or more next to a fire hydrant, which violates VC 22514, because it is within 15 ft. of it. There is a classic car parked, driven once a week, if that. There is a huge boat that sits for months. Then, there are some car repairs being made to an old Mustang for months.

The bias of the code comes into play usually when someone complains. Until then, despite the code, police ignore the violations totally. They drive right by. When a neighbor complains, the police finally act upon it, but ONLY on the target, despite violators right next to the same car.

Someone, after all these years, complained about my 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, a small sport car. It was parked in the same spot for years, drove it once a week or so. Right in front, was that GMC truck. Further down, is the boat, car repairs. Both my car and the GMC are within 15 ft. of the fire hydrant. Of all the violators on this street, only mine was tagged for violation! The GMC truck, covered with leaves, obviously not driven for weeks, was not tagged even though it was only four feet from my tagged car. Did the meter maid simply ignore this because no one had complained? How selective is this! What is the point of laws, if not enforced evenly? What about the boat?

After calling the police, traffic unit, they acknowledged that everything I pointed out was true. That, the officer has the discretion to tag, but since there were no complaints on the other violators, they ignored their violations! They agreed that there are many situations where the code and reality are unfair and not just, like, parking on the street while on vacation. I was told that the enforcement seldom occurs after 72 hours, usually, it is a week or more before they return to check. I was told to simply move the car across the street. But, if a neighbor complains again, the whole stupid thing happens again. It will get tagged and I will move it again. But is across the street sufficient to fulfill: “ Moving vehicle shorts distances does not comply”? Is across the street not enough despite the police instructions? The code is so vague.

But, VC 11-36.160, is a catch-22. This states the same but includes “private” property! Huh? This means, if you park your car on your driveway, private property, more than 72 hours, you can be towed! That means, a neighbor could be an asshole and complain under this code, and the owner would have to move their car to where? The public street, where the other VC code applies? Crazy!

The police did acknowledge this code is seldom enforced but can if a complaint is received. This is true for either stupid code. They suggested that talking to neighbors is the best recourse to avoid this nuisance.

How about changing the code to state any car currently legal, registered, can park for any length on a public road? If a complaint is filed, the police call the owner and investigate before any towing occurs. This can easily be done. How about enforcing the codes to any violators on the street, no complaint needed?

This is a great example of good intentions gone awry.


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