What can be done when people choose to park their cars in front of someone else’s mailbox? This was one of several issues revolving around parking in the city of Payette, which were discussed at the Dec. 16 Payette City Council meeting.
On the table is Ordinance 1471, which seeks to amend Payette Municipal Code in the following ways:
• Eliminate a rule prohibiting non-emergency vehicles from parking in the city’s business district for more than 30 minutes between 2 and 7 a.m.;
• Allow trucks/truck trailers to park in the business district;
• Eliminate the one-ton capacity limit for trucks or vans parked on any city street;
• Prohibit parking within 10 feet of a free-standing mailbox or obstructing a mailbox from postal vehicle access; and
- Prohibit parking on a bike lane or path, along a yellow painted curb or fire lane, or as directed by a police officer.
With the amended ordinance, a rule requiring removal of snow from private property by someone other than the owner/renter/lessee to be done by a private contractor licensed by the city would go away.
Updated rules would affect passenger cars and light trucks/vans.
Mayor Jeff Williams said the rules outlined were intended to clarify the city’s parking rules.
At the meeting, Payette Police Chief John Plaza said the issue of people parking their cars in front of other people’s mailboxes has resulted in several squabbles over the years.
“I think we all just assumed that it’s illegal to block somebody’s post office box or mailbox … it’s not,” said Plaza. “It never has been; [Residents] don’t get their mail, and they go to the post office and say they’re not getting their mail. And the post office says, ‘Tough. Go talk to the city police, there’s no emergency.’”
Plaza reported one call which resulted in officers negotiating between two neighbors who got into a parking standoff, one blocking the other’s mailbox and vice versa.
“We just figured it made sense to have something we can actually enforce to get people’s mail delivered,” Plaza said, regarding the proposed 10-foot rule.
Councilor Mike Kee added that the city already has a lot of rules on the books for street parking.
“I just think … you’re prohibiting twenty feet of parking in front of someone’s house for a problem that’s not really ours,” Kee said. “I don’t think [the rule is] specific enough; There’s no times or days on this, so if I park in front of a mailbox at midnight on a Sunday … Do I face the possibility of getting a citation?”
According to Municipal Code 10.20.190, Section 9, violations are counted as misdemeanors. Kee expressed concern about treating parking violations in the city as such.
“You could potentially go to jail for six months,” Kee said.
Councilor Kathy Dodson recommended adding a change to the Ordinance, reducing the violation to a infraction.
Councilor Kathy Patrick said she has observed that postal carriers are told not to get out of their trucks should the mailbox be blocked.
“Technically they’re told, if you can’t get to the mailbox, just move on,” Patrick said.
Plaza noted the challenge in getting people to move their cars does often mean bringing up the misdemeanor provision.
“Sometimes that gets their attention,” Plaza said. “We don’t wanna do anything but this is what it is.”
The Ordinance will be discussed further at its second reading during the next City Council meeting, on Jan. 6.