Aldermen backed away from final approval of an ordinance that would ban parking within 20 feet of any crosswalk, saying the law needed to be more specific.
An ordinance that amended a previous law, which included the 20 feet from any crosswalk ban and identified the intersection of South First and Orleans streets, was given preliminary approval with a first reading Aug. 1.
Final approval of the proposed amendment was tabled Aug. 15 when aldermen said more discussion was needed.
In a lengthy discussion Sept. 5, aldermen again voiced concerns about the bill’s fairness and questioned how it could be uniformly enforced. They said the law penalized some businesses and could not be applied citywide in its present form.
The parking ban was crafted by amending an existing ordinance that described the citywide ban. It was specifically designed to provide visibility of approaching vehicles for motorists entering or crossing South First Street at the intersection of Orleans Street.
City Attorney Robert Jones, who wrote the legislation, stressed that no parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk had long been the law in Pacific.
Assistant Police Chief Don Locke told The Missourian that he was not aware of the law and police had never enforced it.
Police Chief Matt Mansell later said since aldermen were discussing the new legislation he would wait to see how they (aldermen) defined the law and how the city attorney viewed enforcement before he would approach enforcement of the parking ban.
Mansell was not present at the Sept. 5 meeting.
In his report to the board of aldermen, City Administrator Steve Roth said he didn’t think the law would be enforced on a citywide basis.
“The city, in my opinion, does not intend to begin enforcing it on a wide basis, but only in instances where there is a clear safety hazard,” Roth said.
Alderman Mike Pigg said it would be ridiculous to put a law on the books that officials say they won’t enforce.
“I don’t like the idea of passing a law we’re not going to enforce,” he said.
Aldermen Carol Johnson said questions that had been raised in previous discussions about the impact of the parking ban on businesses at certain intersections still needs to be clarified.
“This is not business parking, it is public parking,” Mayor Jeff Palmore said. “This has nothing to do with business.”
Johnson disagreed, saying businesses are impacted when the city limits parking in front of their buildings, preventing their customers from parking there.
“I brought to your attention the parking situation at Columbus and Union,” she said. “It is discrimination to do this in some places and not somewhere else.”
Palmore insisted that the parking ban is not about business, but about safety.
“We agree it is safety (at First and Orleans streets),” Johnson said. “But what do we do with the rest of the town? We’re going to control parking at some places and not others?”
Jones said he could write an exception that eliminated the 20-foot rule at intersections where four-way stops existed and at intersections where parking spaces are marked.
Pigg said he preferred a law that spelled out each area.
“I don’t know how to fix this, but it needs to be fixed,” Pigg said. “If we repeal the current law and start over that’s fine with me. We can’t fix it by putting it on the books and say we won’t enforce it. That would be ridiculous.”
Alderman Andy Nemeth said it might be better to craft an ordinance that identified each location.
“That would allow us to study every intersection and make sure it is right,” Nemeth said. “If people do have businesses at an intersection let’s look at that.”
Palmore said whatever the board legislates it’s important that intersections be clearly marked so the public could know where to park and where not to park.
“I don’t want the city to give people tickets because they (citizens) didn’t carry their code book with them,” he said.
Aldermen asked the city attorney to craft a new ordinance that would enact the ban at First and Orleans streets and spell out rules for other intersections that the public could understand and police could enforce.