Tonawanda News

Opinion

June 5, 2014

OUR VIEW: Council should change parking law

Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda leaders missed an opportunity to make life a little easier for residents this week when they shot down by a 3-2 Common Council vote a proposal to allow residents to park on the street overnight during the summer.

The council balked after Police Chief William Strassburg offered faint praise for the present law, which requires residents to move vehicles off the street between 4 and 6 a.m. from April to November. Strassburg noted cars parked in violation of the law constitute reasonable suspicion to investigate further potential criminal activity.

“It’s not the be-all, end-all,” Strassburg noted of the ability to poke a little further into a car if it’s parked on the street overnight. Perhaps it’s marginally helpful for an eagle-eyed officer to spot a crime in progress but it comes at a fairly annoying inconvenience for residents, 99 percent of whom would only be in violation of one law if they left their car on the street overnight: the very parking violation in question.

Other municipalities in the area lift their overnight parking ban from April 1 to Nov. 1, after which snow removal takes obvious priority over the convenience of leaving a car on the street so you don’t have to shuffle vehicles in the driveway before you go to bed or in the morning on your way to work.

In the summertime there’s no compelling reason to prevent residents from avoiding an annoying part of daily life.

It’s a shame the Tonawanda city council — at least the three members who shot down the proposal — doesn’t see it that way.

Local laws the only benefit of which are generating parking ticket revenue and trying to catch the odd small-time criminal constitute poor public policy.

Councilmen opposed said they worried about people leaving cars parked in the same spot for long periods of time, potentially irritating neighbors. There’s a simple solution: Rewrite the law to allow police to ticket a vehicle that hasn’t been moved from a street spot for more than 48 or 72 hours. It’s a simple compromise that would allow aggrieved residents some recourse if someone leaves a jalopy parked in front of their house in perpetuity. 

Here’s the bottom line: City government should try to make lives easier for residents, not more difficult. They had a chance to do just that here and failed.

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