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The Public Sidewalk Is Not Your Private Driveway

June 1, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Parking, Walkability 12 Comments

Over the years St. Louis has vacated both streets & alleys, this means land previously part of the public right-of-way (PROW) is now private. Usually the phrase “vacate public surface rights for vehicle, equestrian and pedestrian travel” is used in the ordinance (from a block west), typically splitting the surface rights between the adjacent properties. The description of the vacated surface rights are very precise, also from the block to the West:

Beginning at the point of intersection of the western line of 11th Street, 60 feet wide, with the northern line of said alley; thence south 14 degrees 58 minutes 30 seconds west 15.00 feet along the western line of said 11th Street, to the southern line of said alley; thence north 75 degrees 05 minutes west 176.75 feet along the southern line of said alley; thence north 14 degrees 58 minutes 30 seconds east 15.00 feet to the northern line of said alley; thence south 75 degrees 05 minutes east 176.75 feet along the northern line of said alley, to the western line of said 11th street and the point of beginning, and containing 2651 square feet. are, upon the conditions hereinafter set out, vacated. 

The alley that is the subject today must have been vacated prior to the library putting ordinances online.

February 1909 Sunburn map shows city block 280 bounded by Olive, 10th, 11th & Locust. I've circled the vacated alley that is the subject of this post. Click image to view full page.
February 1909 Sunburn map shows city block 280 bounded by Olive, 10th, 11th & Locust. I’ve circled the vacated alley that is the subject of this post. Click image to view full page.

This section of alley was extra, the vacation still allowed access to all buildings and 10th & 11th Street — note that the number & configuration of buildings has changed since 1909.

Looking south from the Locust St sidewalk into the vacated alley
Looking south from the Locust St sidewalk into the vacated alley

Ok, so we’ve established the surface rights are now private — but this changes where? The building line — not the curb. From the 1909 Sunburn map we know the Locust PROW is 60 feet wide — from building face to the opposite building face. The roadway and sidewalks on both sides are within this 60 foot wide PROW. Unfortunately, one tenant/owner thinks the alley surface rights extend past the building line to the curb line.  Ever since the former Bride’s House building  at 1008-10 Locust was renovated people have  been partially parking in the PROW. I finally began photographing to document the ongoing problem.

November 28, 2014
November 28, 2014
December 19, 2014
December 19, 2014

Finally last month, on May 7th, I went into the adjacent business, asking if the SUV belonged to them. When they said yes I told them they can’t park blocking the public sidewalk. We had a big argument outside which continued via text after I left my business card.

May 7, 2015 -- this owner of this SUV had received "7 tickets this year and between 40-50 tickets in the last two years at that same address."
May 7, 2015 — this owner of this SUV had received “7 tickets this year and between 40-50 tickets in the last two years at that same address.”
On May 29, 2015 at 10:01am it was back, I emailed the Director of Streets Steve Runde, a patient of the business, and the city parking enforcement dept that keeps ticketing vehicles that park here. I also texted the business.
On May 29, 2015 at 10:01am it was back, I emailed the Director of Streets Steve Runde, a patient of the business, and the city parking enforcement dept that keeps ticketing vehicles that park here. I also texted the business.
May 29, 2015 at 10:58am: An hour later the SUV had moved to a metered parking space (circled in red), but a white sedan took its place
May 29, 2015 at 10:58am: An hour later the SUV had moved to a metered parking space (circled in red), but a white sedan took its place

I don’t know the total number of tickets the city has issued for vehicles here, likely in the hundreds. The business even got another patient involved — an elected official. I returned her phone call explaining where the line is between private property and the PROW, I also emailed her the pictures through May 7th. Hopefully she got back to more important business in Jefferson City.

In the future I’m not going to text the business, I’m just going to email Streets & Parking Enforcement and hope the vehicle’s owner must negotiate with a tow truck operator. I don’t know the total number of tickets the city has issued for vehicles here, likely in the hundreds.

Parking is allowed in the PROW — we have meters placed to know where it is ok to do so.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. RyleyinSTL says:

    The deterrent of a $20 ticket (or whatever it is) is likely much to low to correct the actions of someone who can afford a $70k SUV. $100/month for convenient parking right beside this persons business is a great deal for them! Increase that cost to $1000 and they will use the meter.

    Idiots parking on the sidewalk is one of my pet peeves as well. This is also very common in residential areas of the city. Forces pedestrians into the street.

     
  2. Mark-AL says:

    STL City Parking Enforcement needs to drive 115 miles into Illinois to Champaign/Urbana, then meet with the U of I parking enforcement division for a refresher class that they offer daily, often minutes apart, and at several locations throughout the campus: “Proven Strategies To Prevent Illegal Parking.” As this alumnus will testify, those guys at UI implement the strategies consistently and efficiently. I’ve noticed too that enforcement in several major cities in Europe is also no-nonsense and efficient. They tend to keep their tow trucks fairly busy from 6 AM through 7 PM daily. Maybe Tishaura Jones needs to invest in more boots, add a few more boot crews, stiffen the fines, double/triple them for chronic offenders, then deal with the fallout. (But to do so just may murky-up her long-term mayoral plans!) As long as illegal parking remains more attractive considering the cost and inconvenience of legal parking, the obvious shortcut is the way to go.

     
  3. JZ71 says:

    Do the math (the business owner has). He’s averaging two tickets a month, which, if paid promptly, is cheaper than having to pay for private parking, on a monthly basis, further away, especially since he essentially has a private, reserved, parking spot, right at his door! Yeah, you’re “right” and he’s “wrong” – it’s “just business” – it boils down to enforcement and $$$$ . . . .

     
    • The business owner parks in the vacated alley — these vehicles are his patient’s. The last 2 pics show how one moved but an hour later another was in the same spot.

      Do the math — parking on the street at a meter is cheaper than a ticket!

       
      • JZ71 says:

        It’s called parking roulette – as long as you “get away with it” way more than you “get caught”, it boils down to the dollars. As the other posters have noted, infrequent ticketing, low fines, little booting and little towing combine to create a situation where just paying the occasional fine IS cheaper than either finding a meter or a private lot. Compare enforcement here to places that are more aggressive, places like Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, where parking enforcement equals parking nazis to most drivers . . . http://www.fark.com/comments/4501258/The-City-of-Denver-would-like-you-to-know-that-they-are-not-issuing-more-parking-tickets-just-because-of-economy-And-never-mind-meter-maids-with-measuring-tape-to-make-sure-cars-are-parked-legally

         
        • Parking roulette isn’t the smart business doing the math view you first shared. The SUV owner is someone willing to pay/fix/ignore $500+ in parking tickets because they can’t be troubled to park on the street and put coins in a meter.

           
          • JZ71 says:

            It could be smart business if the business owner is willing to pay the cost of the tickets his clients / patients / customers receive. Telling them, “Hey, just pull into that spot next to the door and you wan’t have to worry about finding (and feeding) a meter” could very well be the cost of doing business downtown (and a way to stay competetive with his suburban competitors). I know that when I lived in Denver, the UPS and FedEx trucks received multiple tickets, downtown, and they just chalked them up as a cost of doing business.

             
          • Smart huh? There are always 2-3 on-street spaces available on this block.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            But you have to put money in the meters – if you park in the alley, there are no meters.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            And, yeah, the cost of meter parking is not high. It’s the “principle” of the thing – “free” is viewed as being far less onerous than having to pay even a buck or two. It’s no different than casinos in Missouri, that are required to collect a $2 per person admission fee – the casinos just pay that out of general revenues, instead of trying to collect it at the door: http://www.americangaming.org/industry-resources/state-information/missouri

             
  4. Daniel says:

    In bigger cities tickets are more like $80, and are much more regularly issued, and hence there are no such problems.

     

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