Galveston man pays $75 parking fine in pennies

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It took a city clerk more than two hours to count 7,500 pennies, but small change is how Galveston business owner Gregg West thought he should make his point.

"My whole deal is the city doesn't listen and the only way to get 'em to listen is to go about it like this," he said.

Last month, West was given a ticket that stated he had blocked a sidewalk on 27th at Q. In front of his tree-trimming business on Q and Avenue, there is his concrete driveway. What remains of a city sidewalk is next door, where it abruptly ends.

"I never heard of an imaginary sidewalk, but I guess there is a law of imaginary sidewalks," he said.

City Marshal Michael Gray said sidewalk or not, it's part of a city easement, and it was blocked by West's truck.

"Whether or not it's an improved surface of concrete isn't relevant. The code talks about a passage for pedestrians, and that's what it's for," he said.

Gray said West was warned previously that he risked a ticket for blocking the easement.

The passage consists of patches of grass, dirt, and more concrete driveways down the block. On the other side of the street is a new concrete sidewalk. Gray said pedestrians should have the choice of either side of the street on which to walk, paved or unpaved.

The ticket given to West, according to the city, came from complaints called in to parking enforcement. West doubts the complaints came from his neighbors, one of whom drove by and asked for his autograph. "I'm getting a lot of support for this," he said.

West is now parking his car on the street, but he also pointed out cars straddling similar easements elsewhere in the area. He said he has yet to see anyone else ticketed for the same infraction.

He also offered his apology to the clerk who had to count his pennies. Gray called the payment method a waste of an employee's time. "We are going to make a policy change on what is accepted," he said.

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