Homeowners challenging Houston's parking ordinance

July 10, 2012 3:16:26 PM PDT
There's a battle over parking in one southwest Houston neighborhood. Authorities are handing out citations for people blocking sidewalks, but in some cases, residents say they don't have much of a choice.

Now, one homeowner in the Briar Gate subdivision is planning a fight.

Big vehicles -- even some sedans -- block the sidewalk. But some homeowners say they've have little choice when it comes to parking.

Among those living on West Fuqua in southwest Houston is Layda Perez.

"I don't think they should tell me not to park where I need to," Perez said.

She owns a big truck, which because of the size of the parking space right outside her home, cannot be parked without sticking out into the sidewalk. She got a ticket about a year ago for that.

Even smaller vehicles, though, block the sidewalk there regularly.

"I was upset and mad, because I don't know where they want us to park," Perez said.

The citations are not being given by Houston police but by city parking management employees.

Nikki LeCompte got one just last Friday in the same Briar Gate neighborhood nearby, and she lives on a much less busy street.

"I think that this is an abuse of power," she said.

But with several cars, she has no choice but to extend over the sidewalk.

"I believe it is extortion. I think it is an abuse of power for them to come onto people's property and bully them and make them pay to park in front of their own home," LeCompte said.

The Briar Gate Community Improvement Association spokesman Scott Carpenter says it's warned LeCompte previously about having inoperable vehicles in her driveway. But this time, she says all the cars work.

The association insists it has not singled her or anyone else out and that it hasn't asked the city to crack down on those blocking the sidewalks. But it does support the law, which was designed to ensure pedestrians have a safe place to walk where possible.

"We are looking out for the homeowners that are following the rules and that want to uphold the law," Carpenter said.

The city did not respond to repeated calls asking where residents are supposed to park if the spaces are too small to accommodate their vehicles.

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