Johnson City gets tough on parking

Gary B. Gray • Aug 30, 2013 at 4:14 PM

If your car, boat, storage unit or equipment is blocking the flow of traffic on Johnson City streets, chances are you will be fined and possibly have your property removed from public right-of-way.

A new city ordinance went into effect at the first of this month, and it is meant to clear away safety hazards and increase the ease of traffic flow throughout the city. Development Services Director Angie Carrier said citizen requests prompted the new law and the issues are primarily associated with the safety and welfare of motorists due to sight distance limitations and traffic movement violations.

The city’s traffic, police, planning and legal departments collaborated to draft the ordinance which addresses citywide concerns and issues.

• Read the full ordinance.

“This ordinance came about as a result of frequent calls from concerned citizens about large vehicles and other equipment being parked or stored on city streets for lengths of time,” Carrier said. “Traffic was impeded, sight lines were obstructed, and it was an overall hazard to driving conditions. We believe the ordinance will alleviate that and improve safety for all drivers and passengers.”

Specifically, the new law establishes restrictions on vehicles parked on city streets that weigh more than 8,000 pounds, vehicles exceeding 8 feet in height at any point, or vehicles more than 20 feet in length. Attached trailers are considered in this last measurement.

The City Commission passed a third reading of the ordinance on Aug. 1.

Motorists or those who own the property parked on city streets are now liable for a $50 fine for each, separate violation. Vehicles cannot be left unattended on any public street for more than two consecutive hours, except when it is being used in connection with any work or service being performed in the immediate area.

When it comes to non-motorized equipment, it is now unlawful for any person to park vehicles or equipment such as campers, trailers, boats, or other recreational equipment on any public street for more than eight consecutive hours. It also is now unlawful to use public right-of-way — on any street — to stores any item, except where otherwise lawfully provided.

Police also have the right under this ordinance to physically remove non-motorized vehicles and equipment from city streets. However, patrolmen have been trained on the ins and outs of the new ordinance, and they are now making an effort to educate citizens and assist them with voluntary compliance before issuing a citation.

“We would only tow away a vehicle, or other property, such as a boat, if it was determined to be a hazardous situation,” JCPD Maj. Karl Turner said Thursday. “We’re trying to be reasonable. When it appears a violation has occurred, officers are knocking on doors and giving residents a copy of the ordinance. When we do tow a vehicle, we will try to notify citizens by certified letter informing them of the location of their property, which will go to a storage location, along with a citation.”

For more information, call Turner at 434-6149.

The Johnson City Commission recently passed an ordinance to help improve driving conditions on city streets. This ordinance prohibits:

• Large vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses or recreational vehicles from being parked on a city street for more than two consecutive hours, unless work is being performed in the immediate area.

• Large, non-motorized equipment like boats, trailers and campers from being parked on city streets for more than eight consecutive hours.

• Storage of property, including portable moving containers, on city streets and rights-of-way.

Here's the complete ordinance.

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