Norwalk : Parking Law Re-Evaluation

After several residents protested the recent enforcement of a law prohibiting cars from being parked across a sidewalk, the City Council told staff to study methods of enforcement and make a recommendation within 60 days.

The city, in conjunction with the Sheriff's Department in Norwalk, stepped up enforcement last month after receiving complaints from pedestrians who encounter difficulty getting around cars that block sidewalks. More than 1,500 warning notices were issued, which touched off a flurry of protests from residents. The city previously issued citations on a complaint basis only.

"It's a situation we didn't create," said resident Edward L. Sholtis, who was referring to about 4,000 homes in Norwalk that have short driveways, causing the car's bumper to overhang by a foot or two onto the sidewalk. "We shouldn't have to go to the expense and harassment created" by the situation, he said.

Before the city incorporated in 1957, the county allowed some homes to be built on 25-foot lots, leaving the garage about 10 feet from the sidewalk, city officials said.

Residents dismissed parking on the street as a possible solution, citing previous cases in which cars have been hit. Other residents complained that they would no longer be able to open the garage door, unload groceries or wash their car in their driveway without fear of being ticketed.

"If we can't park on short driveways, what can we do?" asked resident Barbara Millias.

One resident, Gary Burrows, urged the council to continue enforcement of the vehicle code which prohibits cars from blocking a sidewalk. "I want the law enforced with no exceptions."

City Atty. J. Kenneth Brown said the city will now have to come up with a solution that balances the law and those pedestrians complaining of blocked sidewalks with homeowners who have short driveways. The council agreed to discontinue enforcement, except on a complaint basis, until a remedy is found.

"Hopefully we'll come up with something everyone will be happy with," Mayor Robert E. White said.

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