The city of Coon Rapids is planning to crack down on overnight parking in commercial and office districts.
An ordinance will be considered for adoption by the Coon Rapids City Council at its Wednesday, Nov. 3 meeting that would prohibit the parking of semi-trucks, a vehicle in excess of 26,000 pounds, recreational vehicles (RVs) or trailers in commercial or office zoning districts between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
When the ordinance was introduced by the council Oct. 16, no opposition was expressed, but some questions were raised.
Mayor Tim Howe asked councilmembers to let staff know if they want any more information prior to the Nov. 3 meeting.
According to Community Development Director Marc Nevinski, for the past several years, there has been an increasing amount of semi-truck parking in public areas of commercially zoned retail and business districts.
Both councilmembers and residents have raised concerns over this, particularly when multiple trucks are parked overnight for days at a time, Nevinski said.
“Such parking creates aesthetic and public safety concerns,” he said.
“Despite trying to work with property owners to address this concern, the problem persists.”
The zoning code bans parking of semi trucks in undesignated areas, but it is difficult to enforce this code provision for a number of reasons, Nevinski said.
According to Nevinski, these include:
• Non-business hours or days the violations tend to occur make it impracticable for code enforcement staff to address.
• The sporadic occurrence and vehicular nature of the violations make enforcing a land use code difficult.
• The land use code does not fit well with the ticketing procedures of the police or community service officers.
• Property owners have expressed a concern that they will be cited for an activity over which they have little control.
“It is difficult to cite a property owner and require compliance for a violation which is self-correcting,” Nevinski said.
The ordinance proposed by staff would prohibit the overnight parking and enforce it primarily through the traffic and transportation section of city code, not land use.
According to Nevinski, the proposed ordinance clearly authorizes the ticketing of vehicles parked overnight by the police department.
The offense would be a misdemeanor and require a court appearance, Nevinski wrote in his report to the council.
“The ordinance also allows the property owner to be prosecuted or cited if they are given notice that a vehicle has been ticketed for parking outside of designated zones and a subsequent violation occurs within one year of the notice,” he wrote.
The proposed ordinance provides for the citation of the driver first, but if the violation continues, then the property owner could be cited or prosecuted, according to Nevinski.
“Staff would anticipate that such an action would occur only if a property owner failed to take adequate or effective action following notice,” Nevinski wrote.
If the council adopts the ordinance, staff will develop internal policies to guide such decisions to ensure compliance, Nevinski wrote.
Under the ordinance, trucks would be allowed to queue for loading and unloading for up to four hours.
“The hope is that Coon Rapids develops the reputation in the trucking industry for prohibiting such parking, and that active enforcement of the ordinance will be rare,” Nevinski told the council.
From his reading of the ordinance, Councilmember Bruce Sanders said that a commercial property owner in the city that allows RVs to park overnight would be unable to do so.
Mayor Tim Howe wanted to see some information from staff about the downside of the ordinance.
But Councilmember Denise Klint, whose ward includes the Riverdale retail area, said that overnight parking has been a long-time problem that has generated a lot of complaints. “This has been a long-time coming,” she said of the proposed ordinance.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org