The end of yard parking?

April 1, 2009 2:52:18 PM PDT
There's now a way to clean up your neighborhood and keep your neighbors from turning their front lawn into a parking lot. The city of Houston is now accepting applications for its prohibited yard parking program. Council approved it earlier this year.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The leaders of a few civic clubs that we spoke with on Wednesday, including Sharpstown and Westbury, say they hope to be among the first to have the yard parking ordinance in their neighborhoods. Still, the process to get the ordinance started is not as immediate as you might think.

For years, concerned homeowners have complained about neighbors parking in their lawns. Now they can take action against it while being backed by an anti-yard parking ordinance. However, getting the new rule enforced is not an easy process.

"Neighborhoods would actually have to apply for this protection, so it's kind of an opt-in provision," said Suzy Hartgrove of the city of Houston.

Wednesday was the first day to apply. The City of Houston Neighborhood Planning Department will only be accepting applications the first and second of every month.

"Neighborhoods would submit an application and once we go through the process and determine if they're eligible, we would send it to city council and they would approve the area for this designation," said Hartgrove.

Homeowners without a civic club can apply on their own, but must get a petition signed by 60% of their neighbors first.

"The minimum area is five block faces, so it can be as small as that area or it can be a much larger area depending on how much work you want to do," said Hartgrove.

Before the ordinance is approved for a neighborhood, the city will notify the community by mail. Even with the hurdles, City Council Member Toni Lawrence, who led support of the rule, believes it will address a long time problem.

"Aesthetically they see the problem there and also the value of the home and the damage you can do it, the sewer lines and various things like that," said Lawrence.

Because of this long, drawn-out process, it will likely not be until the summer when we start to see the first warnings and tickets handed out to owners of cars parked in their yards. The tickets can go as high as $150 per fine.

If you'd like to learn more about the yard parking ban, you can reserve a spot at an upcoming meeting. It's being held at the United Way of Greater Houston next Tuesday. That's located at Waugh Dr. and Feagan St. The meeting starts at 6:30pm. You can RSVP by calling 713-837-7701.

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