I found something very, very interesting today. I’m sure you have all seen these signs here in La Vergne. You know the ones, I’m talking about, the ones that say you can’t park on the street:
So I thought, 15-604, huh? I went and looked it up. Here’s exactly what City Ordinance 15-604 says:
15-604. Where prohibited. No person shall park a vehicle in violation of any sign placed or erected by the state or city, nor:
(1) On a sidewalk;
(2) In front of a public or private drivesway;
(3) Within an intersection or within fifteen (15) feet thereof;
(4) Within fifteen (15) feet of a fire hydrant;
(5) Within a pedestrian crosswalk;
(6) Within fifty (50) feet of a railroad crossing;
(7) Within twenty (20) feet of the driveway entrance to any fire station, and on the side of the street opposite the entrance to any fire station within seventy-five (75) feet of the entrance;
(8) Alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when other traffic would be obstructed;
(9) On the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked at the edge or curb of a street;
(10) Upon any bridge;
(11) Alongside any curb painted yellow or red by the city.
Hmmmmmm…. does that look like, to you, that that bans parking on the streets? Sure, it says “in violation of any sign” but the sign says that ordinance 15-604 bans parking on the street and IT DOES NOT. In fact, if you look at the entirety of Section 15 in the La Vergne Municipal Codes, you see that 15-601 tells you how you can legally park. Check it:
15-601. Generally. No person shall leave any motor vehicle unattended on any street without first setting the brakes thereon, stopping the motor, removing the ignition key, and turning the front wheels of such vehicle toward the nearest curb or gutter of the street. Except as hereinafter provided, every vehicle parked upon a street within the City of La Vergne shall be so parked that its right wheels are approximately parallel to and within eighteen (18) inches of the right edge or curb of the street. Notwithstanding anything else in this code to the contrary, no person shall park or leave a vehicle parked on any public street or alley within the fire limits between the hours of 1:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M.* or on any other public street or alley for more than seventy-two (72) consecutive hours without the prior approval of the chief of police.
Furthermore, no person shall wash, grease, or work on any vehicle, except to make repairs necessitated by an emergency, while such vehicle is parked on a public street. (1994 Code, § 15-601)
So, let me ask you this. If it is illegal to park on the street in La Vergne, why does the municipal code spend an entire section telling you how to park legally? I believe the only possible interpretation is that parking on the street in La Vergne is not illegal, unless you are violating any of the rules in this code.
I have spent several hours tonight looking through the codes in pubrec and at MTAS and looking through ordinances to see if there was something I had missed, but I just couldn’t find anything else. If anyone knows of anything and wants to prove me wrong, please do. But as far as I can tell, there isn’t anything.
Here’s the thing. The last time this ordinance was changed was in 2009, to add the section which (oddly) allows people who are having a party to get a permit to allow people to park in the street. (Scroll down to section 15-608) Okay, but WHERE does it outlaw parking in the street? This is what is so frustrating about our old administration, why would you do the job halfway? Not change the ordinance to specifically disallow people to park on the street, instead slap up signs saying parking in the street is not allowed? Who would look up the actual ordinance, they probably thought. Well, me, I finally looked it up.
I support the ordinance banning parking in the yards. You can say all day that the government shouldn’t intrude on people’s property rights and that people should be able to do whatever they want to with their yards. But if I put a 50-foot naked statue of me in my front yard and a giant billboard in my backyard with a picture of Keith Richards on it, would that not hurt your property value? What if I then added a fence and put 50 vicious dogs in there? See, I believe your right to do whatever you want on your property ends, when it affects other people. And these people who are parking a bunch of cars on their lawns every single day, are definitely hurting property values.
I applaud our current board and the Codes department for trying to clean up the city. I am glad to see they see a problem and are working to fix it. But the fact is that a long time ago, someone in the administration allowed the developers to put houses right smack up against each other with very little parking, and then slapped up signs saying parking isn’t allowed in the streets because it IS hard or impossible for emergency vehicles to get through when there are cars parked on both sides of the road. I know on my own street I can hardly get my small sedan through when people are parked on both sides of the street. Something has got to be done. Some kind of compromise has got to be met. Until then, I’ll be parking in the street, just because I can.
*Fire Limits, as I understand them, are districts where it is required that buildings are made from less flammable materials because of their close proximity. This apparently dates back to the Chicago Fire. I also thought it might be possible that when they refer to the fire limits, they are talking about the area of La Vergne where the Fire Department services. If that is true, it IS illegal to park on the street between 1 and 5 AM.