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Parking meter for lulz
November 1, 2011 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Are there any legal ramifications to installing a parking meter on my front lawn?

Douches park in front of my home every weekend. I'd like to setup a parking meter as sort of a vengeful prank. I know it's unenforceable, but is it legal? This is in Austin Tx.
posted by breakfast_yeti to Law & Government (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you seeing active douchebaggery to your lawn or property? Report it.

Or just mad that people are parking in front of your house (which is a public space and you know you have no real claim over, right)?

Parking in ATX is enough of a hot-button issue right now, that I wouldn't be surprised if any attempt at pot-stirring begets some police response.
posted by pantarei70 at 5:45 PM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you make it clear that it's not enforceable, then probably not. That said, if you collect compensation for people parking on the street in front of your house in Austin, then yeah, you're in legal hot water. It's either legal for them to park there or it's illegal (if you live in one of the permitted street-parking neighborhoods like some streets in Allandale, for example). If it's not legal, you have a recourse available to you, but that doesn't involve tricking people into paying for parking when they don't have to.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2011


I've seen traffic cones in the neighborhoods that are adjacent to SoCo. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing wasn't happening on Rainey St. these days. That might be a better alternative.
posted by Gilbert at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm no lawyer, but I can only guess that if it's a functional meter--functional in that it can accept coins--and you take that money, then you could be charged with theft or fraud or the like. If you make sure that no money can be collected from it, then it's probably alright.
posted by zardoz at 5:52 PM on November 1, 2011


I don't think it would matter if it was actually on your property, but depending on the size of the right-of-way on your street, the first 12 or so feet off of the road actually belong to your municipality (that's assuming a 50' ROW).

You have to maintain that property, but it legally is not part of your lot. From there, the logistics of what can be located on the city's right-of-way get murkier & vary by location.

I would view any move like that as an invitation to park as much as possible in front of your house...but that's just me being contrary.
posted by Kronur at 5:54 PM on November 1, 2011


Tex. Transportation Code §544.006(a):
A person may not place, maintain, or display on or in view of a highway an unauthorized sign, signal, marking, or device that:
(1) imitates or resembles an official traffic-control device or railroad sign or signal;
(2) attempts to direct the movement of traffic; or
(3) hides from view or hinders the effectiveness of an official traffic-control device or railroad sign or signal.
"Highway" includes any street that is maintained by and open to the public for vehicular traffic.

Here in Seattle, sometimes businesses try to put out signs reserving parking spaces on the public street. I e-mail the city about this and an inspector comes out and sets them straight quickly.
posted by grouse at 5:54 PM on November 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


Paint the curb red. This ends up doing a number of things... all of which are desirable to you and not traceable (assuming you do not live in the middle of a block with unpainted curbs on either side...)

Do it at night with the proper paint. Hilarity will ensue.
posted by milqman at 5:56 PM on November 1, 2011


Is this an issue of you have trouble finding parking near your house, or they are doing something to your lawn, or you just don't like them there?

I second the traffic cone idea, if you can get your hands on one. It's easier to say "oh, I guess construction workers left it" if the police somehow get involved. In Philly, during the winter, people do all sorts of things to keep the parking spot they shoveled out (a favorite is folding chairs). Although this is not legal, the cops don't normally do anything about it.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:58 PM on November 1, 2011


I think you could get in legal hot water, easily. If it's a public street and people are legally permitted to park there, and you install a parking meter, you're arguably committing a kind of fraud as someone noted above. "Making it clear that it's unenforceable" ... Not sure how you'd do that. What about people who can't read? The sight impaired? Law enforcement is not going to engage in lulzy legal subtleties with you if you're metering a space that belongs to the public at large.
posted by jayder at 6:01 PM on November 1, 2011


Is it legal for the people to park in front of your home? If so, I think you should probably just let them park there, and let it go.

Is it illegal for them to park there? If so, you should probably try to get them towed.

A fake parking meter (or even worse, red paint) seems like the wrong way to go about it.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:08 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about you try speaking with them?

Is the space in front of your house actually part of your property?
Are they taking "your" space? Talk to them.
Are they loud? Leaving beer cans? Talk to them.

If its anything like a city or mostly impossible street parking, don't be a douche.

Besides, what good would it do to put a fake parking meter out front? If I were them, I'd probably laugh at it.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:13 PM on November 1, 2011


Are there any legal ramifications to installing a parking meter on my front lawn?

Apparently so.

Douches park in front of my home every weekend.


You don't own the space on the street in front of your house. They have a legal right to park there. They don't sound like the douches in this equation.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:15 PM on November 1, 2011 [22 favorites]


Usually your property only extends as far as the footpath. Generally it doesnt extend right up to the street (YMMV) so if you're installing a parking meter right next to the street, you'd be installing it on council land and I imagine that alone, quite apart from any other legal issues, would be a problem.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:16 PM on November 1, 2011


"Douches park in front of my home every weekend."

Presumably they do so because you live in a neighborhood that is in some way desirable. I understand your frustration, because I live less than a block from two separate churches, neither of which has adequate parking for their congregations, so every Sunday and holy day my block is parked solid so two cars can't even pass. It's aggravating. But on the other hand, the churches help anchor the neighborhood and maintain property values, and the small parking lots are a function of living in an actual neighborhood, not a suburb, that's walkable and human-scale. These things make my neighborhood desirable, but they also mean people park in front of my house a lot. Now and then they even manage to block my driveway. It's even worse whenever some neighbor's kid turns 16 and suddenly there's a fleet of teenagers coming to parties in cars and parking poorly but, you know, 16-year-olds are people too.

As long as they're parking legally, you can basically put up with it as the price you pay for living in a desirable neighborhood, or you can move to an exurb with plenty of parking but, presumably, is less-desirable to you or else you'd already live there.

You can also go to neighborhood meetings or city council meetings and bitch about parking regulations, though it'll go better if you have a legitimate complaint and a sane alternative for change (like parking only on one side of the street to improve safety).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:24 PM on November 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


$200 should get you an old car that still runs. Park it in front of your house. Problem solved.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:24 PM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


$200 should get you an old car that still runs. Park it in front of your house. Problem solved.

How so? Where does the old car go when he wants to park his other car in that spot?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:31 PM on November 1, 2011


How so? Where does the old car go when he wants to park his other car in that spot?

He didn't say anything about that being the problem. The problem is the douche(s) parking in front of his house. With the $200 car there, the douches have to park in front of his neighbor's house. Problem solved.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:34 PM on November 1, 2011


I don't know how your lot is located relative to the rest of the block (corner, along a straight line, cul-de-sac), but depending on the parking regulations in Austin, it may actually be illegal for them to park there entirely. Or they may be parking in a way that's illegal (too close to the curb is always my favorite ticket to get -.-).

You should definitely talk to them first (if you can find out who it is, this is not always as easy as it sounds) but if they're unreasonable I would go the legal route and find out if they're operating within the regs.

Although, if you're just mad that somebody beat you to the spot... this will be of little help.

(Personal anecdote: I live at the end of a cul-de-sac and while it may appear attractive to park directly in front of my house, unless you own a mini, you're not parking legally, there's just not enough curb.)
posted by wxguychris at 6:36 PM on November 1, 2011


You should definitely talk to them first (if you can find out who it is, this is not always as easy as it sounds)

It actually sounds like maybe his house is within walking distance to the nightlife scene because he said he only has problems on the weekend so it's probably different people every time.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:40 PM on November 1, 2011


What is the actual problem you're trying to solve here?
posted by zachlipton at 6:42 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This sounds like and XY problem.
posted by auto-correct at 6:53 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If your problem is that you think you control the curb space in front of your house, give it up. I know some suburban types get bent out of shape about this (at least they do where I grew up), but it's a public thoroughfare.
posted by rhizome at 6:53 PM on November 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


It actually sounds like maybe his house is within walking distance to the nightlife scene

Ooh, I totally missed that part. If it's that kind of nuisance, The parking authority or city council might be interested in getting involved. Our major university is surrounded by residential areas where it's a 1 or 2 hour limit unless you have the appropriate neighborhood permit. If they didn't have that restriction, the college kids would park on the street all day long [for free] and go to class and there'd be no place for any of the residents to park. (BTW, I was one of those college kids, so this isn't a "damn kids" statement.)

If all else fails, and you're not interested in using that space for your own purposes, you might be able to get the city to install a fire hydrant on your lawn.
posted by wxguychris at 6:57 PM on November 1, 2011


Talk to the City of Austin's Residential Permit Parking Program about getting parking restrictions on your street (the PDF called "Residential Permit Parking application" is the actual paperwork you'll need to fill out.) Do not install anything in the right of way - the best case scenario is that it'll just get removed.
posted by SMPA at 7:16 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The parking meters in my city only charge during business hours and there are road signs and notices on the meters stating the hours you pay for parking. A parking meter would never deter me from parking on weekends or after hours. Regardless of the legalities, I don't think it would deter the cars on your street during the times you've stated.
posted by raisingsand at 7:29 PM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, I would probably be a bit of a curb-griper if I had a house, but I'm just here to relay the reality.
posted by rhizome at 8:09 PM on November 1, 2011


You could put up something like this.
posted by grouse at 8:21 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not legal advice, not a lawyer, etc., but FWIW, I think "traffic control device" generally refers to things like lines painted on the street, stop signs, traffic lights, etc. I don't know that it would apply to a parking meter.

That said, I would be really surprised if this were not somehow illegal.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:24 PM on November 1, 2011


How about a much more benign vanity parking sign, set on your property and not the city setback? Only instead of "Aggies fans parking only" yours could say "Goatfuckers parking only"? Or, you know, something similar but less obscene. (Park here if you're a member of NAMBLA? Park here if you hate the Alamo? Whatever would be adequately offensive in your park of the world.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:27 PM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it's lulz you're after, I would just recommend something less likely to fraudulently make unsuspecting drivers pay you actual money, and something more obviously jokey. But you could always, you know, do it despite Metafilter advising you otherwise.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:31 PM on November 1, 2011


If you own the house, what about putting up some kind of fence along the front to stop people from walking on the grass?

I would think a more amusing approach would be to set up sprinklers to water that trampled area, and have it motion-activated or remote-activated so they start watering the lawn when someone pulls up in their car, gets out, and steps onto the grass. Get off my lawn!
posted by lizbunny at 8:43 PM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think "traffic control device" generally refers to things like lines painted on the street, stop signs, traffic lights, etc.

Austin City Code § 12-3-1(3) explicitly defines a parking meter as a "device." They are installed by the "city traffic engineer" (§ 12-3-2(A)). I think you will have a hard time arguing that regulating where cars can stop and park is not regulating traffic, but you're welcome to try it with a city inspector or a judge. Prove me wrong.

what about putting up some kind of fence along the front to stop people from walking on the grass?

It's quite possible the land that people are walking on is owned by the public rather than the person who owns the property next to it.
posted by grouse at 8:51 PM on November 1, 2011


Have you considered painting your curb red?
posted by jchaw at 8:53 PM on November 1, 2011


You sound like a funny guy, yeti, and you had the good sense to ask the question before doing something that is not legal, and more importantly, pretty douchey itself. It goes with the territory when you live in a desirable neighborhood, and hey, look at how cool you are, living in the cool part of town! All those other assholes driving in from the burbs so they can be tourists with all the cool kids...

I think there's probably a better way to accomplish what you want here -- a sign that reads "Preferential Parking: Baby Harp Seal Rescue Unit, 24 hours/day" or "Reserved for Health Inspector, [Trendy Restaurant] Division." If you were in Seattle, you could get all passive aggressive with a sign that explains how you bought your house before the neighborhood got all yuppie and this stupid restaurant moved in, and how difficult it is when you get home late from th orphanage and you can't park: "...so please be considerate with the neighbors when you choose to park, and maybe next time think about taking the bus" and finish it with a smiley face.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:56 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are allowed to park on the street, even in front of your home. If you set up any sort of parking meter on a public street you're going to find yourself in court, and not in a good way. Do you ever park your car somewhere? Chances are that's in front of someone else's house too.
posted by joannemullen at 9:13 PM on November 1, 2011


Does the restaurant already have valet parking? You could rent them your curb if not. This will keep your curb mostly unparked, with a little extra foot traffic.

If it's any consolation, restaurants go out of business very easily.
posted by rhizome at 9:27 PM on November 1, 2011


Anyways, thx for the answers folks. Guess it's a no go.
posted by breakfast_yeti at 9:41 PM on November 1, 2011


It sucks your lawn gets torn up.

Make a "sidewalk" of decorative pebbles, or small stones. I know it's a bit of an expense, but it is SUPER hard to walk over in heels.

It's a small but persistent victory.
posted by jbenben at 9:47 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you have a neighbor or business owner who you like, encourage them to park in front of your house, especially during business hours. An example would be a neighbor who has a car but uses the bus to get to work. This assumes parking is a problem in your neighborhood, and people aren't just parking in front of your house because you're next door to the coffee shop or whatever it is.

If you have a car and a garage, you could just move your car out there most days during business hours.

I think a better solution would be to hardscape where people's feet go, and be super-vigilant about things like driveway encroachment, perhaps even putting up a polite sign at the end of your drive saying "If you park across my drive, call Joe's towing to get your car back. Thanks." And then do it.

I used to live in city and the only time I got really upset about people taking "my" spot was when it was a neighbor with an old car they didn't drive any more but couldn't bring themselves to get rid of; they lived in a house with two spots in front but had four cars, in a neighborhood with super-tight parking. Nothing to get the gall flowing like seeing the same rusted-out volvo sitting in front of your house for five weeks straight. But transient parkers? What are you going to do?
posted by maxwelton at 9:53 PM on November 1, 2011


Before your sense of entitlement makes your head any bigger, you might not even legally own the part of the grass (or dirt in your case) next to the curb and it could be considered a public thoroughfare.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:54 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


But transient parkers? What are you going to do?

Cities have ordinances for how long a car can be continuously parked in one spot. Where I live I think it's 48 hours. You document and call the police. They might be especially vigilant if the car has expired plates.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:57 PM on November 1, 2011


Douches park in front of my home every weekend.

Well yes. Because you bought a house with parking spaces in front of it. You did understand they are not your parking spaces, yes?
posted by DarlingBri at 9:59 PM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cities have ordinances for how long a car can be continuously parked in one spot. Where I live I think it's 48 hours. You document and call the police. They might be especially vigilant if the car has expired plates.

The problem for us, in that case, was we otherwise got along with the neighbors and a call to the cops would only have come from us. That's kind of crappy unless it's a last resort. It kept us on better terms to just use gentle hints and questions about what they were doing with the car to get them to realize they needed to get rid of it ("hey, Jim, how about parking your nice car in front of my place instead of the beater? Does that thing even start?" in a good-natured but semi-serious way).
posted by maxwelton at 10:04 PM on November 1, 2011


[wow, what was that? bunch of comments removed - no more of that please. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:06 PM on November 1, 2011


Call the city. There will be a regulation about how close cars can be to your driveway, how close to other vehicles, and who knows what else. Make up a flyer stating the regulation, and if anybody parks in a sketchy way, fill it out and leave it on the window:

______(date) Vehicle with ____(state) license plate is parked illegally, check all that apply:
__ blocking driveway
__ Parking to close to another vehicle
__ etc.

Please park legally, politely and leave space for other cars. Parking is monitored by Al's Towing. We appreciate your cooperation, Neighborhood Parking Action Committee

Don't hesitate to have parking control come and write tickets or tow people who park like real jerks; if you hit somebody who parks too close to your driveway, it will be your fault.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


wxguychris writes "Or they may be parking in a way that's illegal (too close to the curb is always my favorite ticket to get -.-). "

I've never heard of this before (to far yes, to close no). Heck around here we are encouraged to park with the car actually touching the curb. How close to the curb are you allowed to park and what the heck is the thought behind restricting too close?
posted by Mitheral at 11:48 PM on November 1, 2011


is there a tree out front? put out bird seed. they wont park there more than once.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:55 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


In my city, there are distances from the corner (I think this is what wxguychris meant) and from driveway aprons where it is illegal to park. I've painted the curb yellow to not quite as far as it's legal (about 9" short). This has reduced the number of idiots who encroach on our driveway, and the number of times I call the cops on them.
For context, many of them were customers of the drug house across the street, thus douche2.
posted by dhartung at 1:41 AM on November 2, 2011


Yeah, really -- no more of what? What were the speciifcs of the deletable offense?

BTW I like the bird seed idea, if you have trees or telephone wires overhanging the parking spaces. The red curb, though -- Texas doesn't follow the colored curb conventions, do they? If not, nobody would notice.
posted by Rash at 2:04 AM on November 2, 2011


People are confusing things...that tex code has nothing to do with parking meters...people are telling you to paint it red (illegal). Please consult a lawyer as this thread is not helping.

Me? I say go for it. But dont put anything up that you wouldnt mind being stolen.

Make a blog about it. Take pics.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:09 AM on November 2, 2011


If they're parking illegally, put up a non official looking sign that says something like "illegally parked cars will be reported and towed"
posted by desjardins at 6:46 AM on November 2, 2011


On the weekends you can park your car(s) in front of your house. Come the rest of the week, park in your driveway or garage.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:08 AM on November 2, 2011


You could get a motion activated sprinkler. Even if that doesn't get the person wet, people get touchy about water spots on their cars. The bird seed idea is good, too.

But, as others have said, it's not your spot. My husband used to get irked at people parking in front of our house, but he's calmed down about it over the years.
posted by deborah at 11:18 PM on November 2, 2011


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