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Déjà vu all over again: legal opinion sought on West U corner sidewalk parking

January 26, 2016 By:Charlotte Aguilar

City Council

By Charlotte Aguilar

Could West University’s long-debated sidewalk parking policy — in particular, involving corner residential lots — be in violation of state law or federal disability law compliance? Finding out is the new charge from City Council to City Attorney Alan Petrov.

“It could be a liability,” was Petrov’s initial response to council Monday night.

The city’s politely-named Parking Etiquette program was on the agenda at the behest of Councilmember Brennan Reilly and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kelly. The item largely consisted of a review of the program’s evolution (a bit murky, it turns out) and effectiveness (proven, according to statistics) from Public Works Director Dave Beach, with Police Chief Ken Walker on hand to answer questions about police enforcement. (A copy of Beach’s summary is available here.)

Sidewalk parking is actually only one of four components addressed by the parking etiquette program, which in many cases is a three-strike system with two warnings before a citation is issued — guided by the Golden Rule, according to the program’s website.

The city’s Code Enforcement Officer Daniel Paripovich is “pro-active” in locating and responding to reports of violation during his 40-hour work week, reported Beach, with police handling enforcement nights and weekends.

The program also covers such things as parking in restricted zones, parking too close to stop signs and hydrants, and blocking driveways, exceeding 72-hour limits or facing in the wrong direction.

But for nearly two decades, it has been sidewalk parking that has taken center stage in West U.

And Reilly made it clear that, although he said he also hears complaints from constituents “constantly,” the issue is a personal one: He has an eight-year-old daughter who is permanently wheelchair-bound. Often when he encounters illegal sidewalk parkers and must push his daughter into the street, “Frankly, they’re unapologetic,” he said.

What drew the councilmember’s focus eventually, though, was the city’s policy allowing some parking forgiveness to older homes on corner lots with short driveways. In 2008 that was updated to require new construction of corner homes to include a “dipped” wraparound sidewalk to permit smooth passage of those using the sidewalks.

Citing Section 545.302 of the Texas Transportation CodeWU council-web — the state law governing parking — along with the Americans With Disabilities Act, Reilly suggested that West U could be violating both with its policy. After Petrov acknowledged that possibility, the council agreed on further investigation without a formal vote.

It also came to light, after questioning by Reilly, that there appeared to be no formal council vote to establish the Parking Etiquette Program in 2012. After two town hall meetings on the topic and a traffic engineering study, City Manager Chris Peifer said the program was “not acted on but agreed to” by council.

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10 Responses to “Déjà vu all over again: legal opinion sought on West U corner sidewalk parking”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    At the Parks meeting, the parks director stated he uses WUP resources for HISD, Southside Place, etc. I am not OK with this. WUP tax money is to be used for WUP! We need a new library, decent parks, etc. The 65 Senior exemption need to be raised. WUP Seniors should NOT pay for meals at the Senior Center! When the Rotary Club makes a donation, WUP Senior Center should NOT charge WUP Seniors to eat the breakfast sponsored by the Rotary Club. As a long term resident, I see Seniors struggling to make ends meet, only to see tax resources intended for WUP be given to other cities. The Parks director is stepping over his responsibilities to this city. Why doesn’t the city manager do anything? It’s time to look for new leadership.

  2. College Resident Says:

    There is a particular residence whos garage facing Weslayan was converted to an interior space long time ago; the garage door was replaced with an exterior wall with a window. The curb cut and the driveway from the original garage still remain and the car is always parked there interfering with the sidewalk. When I complained to the city I was told that it was permitted on older homes. However, this driveway does not even lead to a garage any more. Why is this permitted? Not only it is abusive, it is inconsiderate. I often have to step down onto Weslayan when walking past that car which is very dangerous given the amount of traffic there.

  3. Jim Shields Says:

    Since last June, Reilly/Kelly have

    – Fired our city manager for no cause costing us tax payers a half million dollars
    – I believe that Reilly may be prosecuted for extortion if Mike Ross decides to file charges
    – Violated the open meetings act – I think Kelly is being investigated by the Harris County DA and may face prosecution
    – Used our money to write self serving political ads in our magazine – City Currents. This is being reviewed for ethical violations
    – Nitpicked, harassed, and disrespected Mayor Sample which prevents our city government from functioning as it should

    Here is an issue for Reilly/Kelly that does not require a legal opinion.

    Renovate and update our public library. A city with our wealth should not have a substandard building for our citizens.

    My wife is a librarian and she made sure that our children were frequent visitors to libraries, including the West U library. Now we have grandchildren – ages 2 and 4. They have lived in San Francisco, Ft Collins, CO and now Berkeley, CA. All three cities have wonderful, modern, libraries and we go there often for story time, and to bring home bags of books.

    We know and love libraries and the West U library is substandard. Here is a chance for Reilly/Kelly to actually do something that does not require legal opinions.

    • Anonymous Says:

      This council is leaving everything up to others. The police chief gets to decide enforcement. Taxpayers must first APOLOGIZE! If they don’t, expect less than equal treatment under the law. Perhaps senior citizens should get on their knees to beg forgiveness so they don’t get punished with fewer services than others? If Donald Trump lived in WUP, he would be shocked at the treatment of citizens who speak out! The WUP library IS substandard. You don’t need to spend a fortune to make it amazing. This council loves to spend taxpayers money to provide “gold standard” compensation to staff. This council loves to spend money firing those THEY don’t want around, then give the replacement a HUGE pay increase! When are the taxpayers going to see some of their money spent on them? Everyone should be aware that when citizens are punished, the punishment NEVER ends! This council doesn’t seem concerned about the fact they are hurting disabled seniors. I do not intend to vote for ANYONE currently in leadership. They have proven that they do not listen to taxpayers, do not care about the will of the people, put new policies into the system to eliminate privacy, etc. Seniors cannot get special trash pick-up unless they allow any WUP staff to question their personal doctor! Do NOT vote for people who trample on our civil rights!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I was at this council meeting. I was alarmed when council appeared impressed by the number of parking violations written by our ordinance officer. He works basically 9 to 5 weekdays. When it came time for the police to say how many violations they’ve written, it was practically zero. The police supposedly enforce parking laws at night and weekends, when people are home from work, school is not in session, kids are playing outside. Everybody who lives here knows that is when the vast majority of illegal parking takes place. The fact is, the police do not do anything unless a citizen personally requests action. Does this make sense? Our police expect residents to turn on each other before they’ll enforce a state safety law. Council should be ashamed of itself for allowing this incredibly ineffective and divisive policy to continue. This council is very ineffective, worried more about residents not liking them. Meanwhile someone, including a council ember with a handicapped child is afraid to order the police to pro-Actively do what they’re paid to do – enforce the law. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – one council member seems lost and can’t focus, and the others didn’t realize that parking isn’t enforced when most of the violations occur. Hopeless.

  5. Kamala Sachidanandan Says:

    Enforcement is an issue. Anytime of day you need to just drive down University Blvd. to see cars parked across the sidewalk. Ironically, those with the longest driveways seem to be the biggest violators (plenty of room before and after the side walk). I have never seen a warning sticker on any of these vehicles. Likely these are visitors but the homeowner is the responsible party. Curious as to the best contact number or email to report these violations so they can be addressed with those that are monitoring in the moment. Has signage been considered for better awareness? Maybe an additional sign on existing posts.

    • Largo Al Factotum Says:

      Where on University? The stretch between Auden and Edloe belongs to Southside Place, and farther east on University they park on the driveway approach – not the sidewalk.

  6. David Says:

    A legal opinion seems like a logical outcome to me.

    • Anonymous Says:

      This leadership makes up they own laws in an effort to control law abiding taxpayers. What other city refuses taxpayers services for speaking up? What other city mandates that you give up your right to privacy, or city services are refused? What other city refuses Senior services to disabled Seniors & disabled citizens? This city does NOT do right by its taxpayers! Wake up people, you could be next!

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