Addressing parking problems in two Santa Cruz neighborhoods

Dear Street Smarts, Q: An ongoing issue on our Chico Avenue neighborhood street is cars parking facing traffic. For example a car heading south will park on the northbound side while still facing south. I know it is done for expedience but is that legal? We have cars parking in both directions on both sides of the street. Christine Palochak, Santa Cruz A: Parking in the wrong direction is illegal except for commercial vehicles while loading or unloading, said Deputy Chief Steve Clark of the Santa Cruz Police Department, while citing California Vehicle Code Section 22502 parts A and B. If you call the police's non-emergency line to report this occurrence, they will respond but “the call will be prioritized with the others,” Clark said. “This kind of call is pretty far down the food chain for us, unless there is a real safety threat.” Meanwhile, the city's parking division is charged with enforcing all parking regulations in neighborhoods with parking restrictions, said Marlin Granlund, parking programs manager. Those areas include permit and timed parking, as well as arterial streets that carry a large volume of automobiles that are moving and parking. “We do enforce other areas by complaint, but try to stay out of neighborhood squabbles as some individuals use parking issues to harass or get back at a neighbor,” he said, while noting that his department usually spends the summer months enforcing parking restrictions in the Beach, Seabright and downtown areas. Learn more about the city's parking programs at www.cityofsantacruz.com. Q: We live on upper Morrissey by Delaveaga and parking can be horrendous, especially during the school year. With the upcoming loss of the La Fonda bridge, it will probably get worse. We can almost never park in front of our own house and sometimes use adjacent streets. My son found a spot that was open pretty regularly, but after parking there for a while, he began receiving nasty verbal comments from neighbors, notes and messages written in ink on his windows. I have always thought that parking on the street was pretty much a free for all. Though, I have thought about putting notes on the cars parked in front of my house, I didn't really think it was appropriate. Can you shed some light on the law surrounding this issue? Mary Petersen, Santa Cruz A: “Unless the space is designated as a handicap parking space, or is located in front of a driveway, parking is first come, first served,” said Deputy Chief Steve Clark. “You cannot 'reserve' or restrict parking in front of your residence to preclude others from parking there.” Regarding writing notes on the vehicle itself, including the windows, that's vandalism, he continued. “If there are threats to the owner, that too is criminal behavior,” said Clark. “We would be happy to take that report, as well as any suspect information for appropriate enforcement action.” Report crime in person at 155 Center St., by dialing 911 or at www.cityofsantacruz.com.
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