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July 10, 2012 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Anything we can do about cop neighbor's multiple legal street-parked vehicles?

My neighbors and I have an issue with a certain individual down the street.

We live in an urban neighborhood, on a heavily populated dead-end street. Residents park on both sides of the street; most houses (such as mine) have no off-street parking and so the majority of residents depend on available street parking on a daily basis.

We have one neighbor who thinks he is entitled to more space than everyone else. This guy has 2 full-size vans, a Ford F-250 fullsize truck, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and then the Saturn he drives. The 2 vans, truck, and Jeep live on the street, never moving. They're actually full of his belongings (looks like a hoarder to me.) But because he keeps all the vehicles registrations up to date, the city won't do anything about it.

To add insult to injury, this guy reserves a spot for himself daily. He keeps the 4 storage vehicles equally spaced apart, just too small for a car. If when he comes home from work and theres no parking, he scrunches his vans together to fit his Saturn in there. If theres open parking on the street, he leaves his cars spaced out and just takes an open spot. Given the size of his vehicles, and his unneighborly tendencies, he single-handedly takes up 6-7 parking spaces ALL THE TIME.

Some snowflake details: this guy is also a cop. He was convicted of some petty crimes a few years ago, was pulled off the streets, but he's still a cop. He lives with his retired mother. I've heard from neighbors than everyone's afraid to confront him, due to his craziness and the (reasonably true) belief that if a conflict ever erupted, the other cops would likely believe his side of the story, since he is one of them. When I first moved in I decided to knock on his door and at least try to have a discussion with him... I waiting until I knew he was home to go over. No one answered the door as I rang the bell, and I noticed I was being filmed from a security cam in his window, and he was probably watching me from inside, opting to ignore me.

So, thats the deal. No one in any official capacity who I've reached out to has any suggestion. I've heard that people have moved away from this street purely because of him abusing the parking situation. Its not a large street, and he takes up the space in front of 4 houses. I don't care if he knows that I'm actively trying to remove his cars, I'm not afraid of him, but I don't know what to do about it. I'm not entertaining illegal suggestions, but if its creative and legal, I'm all ears!

Thanks for any suggestions you may have!
posted by el_yucateco to Human Relations (43 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
While this might be distressing, so what? He's got as much right to park on the street as anyone else does. Does your community have any regulations as to how often parked vehicles must be moved? Is he moving the vehicles in accordance with those regulations? If he is, I'd find something new to worry about.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:58 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would probably help to know what jurisdiction you are in (Country/State/City).

No one in any official capacity who I've reached out to has any suggestion.

Have you talked to your local police about this without mentioning the identity of the individual in question? If so, and if they have no advice for you, I suspect you are out of luck. In most places I've lived, the police have sole jurisdiction over on-street parking, usually as part of a Parking Division.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:58 PM on July 10, 2012


It sounds like there isn't any city ordinance making what he's doing illegal, so I don't see what you can do about it. Have you spoken to your city's traffic and parking office about the situation?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:59 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does your town have a parking enforcement officer? What your neighbor is doing is violating the storage laws. Where I live you are not allowed to leave a car in the same spot for more than 48 hours ( may be 72 in some places). Call the parking dept and have them deal with it. Sure he is a cop, but in many cases the parking dept. is separate, and despise the bastard cops.
posted by Gungho at 1:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [18 favorites]


Report the vehicles as abandoned.
Repeatedly.
Keep doing it.
Document your calls. If it becomes clear that the police aren't willing to do anything, contact your city councilman / selectman / mayor / ombudsman and explain that this guy is a cop and therefore the cops aren't going to do anything unless someone from higher up says so.
You're going to get some flak from your neighbor, though.
posted by gauche at 1:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Does your urban area have a residential parking permit system? Like San Francisco's, for example? If so, there's usually a process (initiated by the residents of the area) by which you can petition to make your area permit-required. If it becomes cost-prohibitive for him to park all of his cars on the street, that might solve your problem.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Have you considered asking your local elected officials to do something? Sounds like this guy is lowering the property values, which lowers the tax base and disgruntles the residents. Your local councilman/alderman/whatever might be willing to do something if he knows that he'll be able to win a bunch of votes for being The Guy Who Finally Cleaned Up The Parking On Sycamore Street. It's not at all strange for certain streets with special circumstances to have different parking regulations -- they could make the whole street permit-only and only allow a certain number of permits per resident.
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who has had her car towed for being an abandoned vehicle (for completely bullshittily bullshit reasons--the person who called in my car lied), I know that (at least in Chicago) the department of revenue will be only too happy to respond to your request and tow those unused cars out of there.

Call the relevant agency, as gauche suggests, over and over and over until they're gone.

Street parking is serious business, yo.
posted by phunniemee at 1:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I had the same issue when I lived in West Cleveland. The ENTIRE street would be full of abandoned cars and various hoarders' conversion vans. My best solution was to change my schedule slightly and beat the other commuters: I went to the gym in the early morning and that way was able to come home JUST before the other commuters had their mad dash.

On preview, gauche's suggestion is also excellent. There is no way you could get a Cleveland officer to even think about coming out to West 110th for anything other than bodily harm/burglary, though. So if you can do it where you live, more power to you.
posted by vkxmai at 1:04 PM on July 10, 2012


Yeah, there's got to be some kind of limit in your area as to how long you can leave a car in one spot. It's 48 hours in my city too. Maybe he's got a connection to whoever's responsible for parking enforcement in the neighborhood and they've agreed to leave him alone, but if you call it in as an abandoned vehicle it would create a paper trail that's harder for someone to ignore.

If he's actually moving them each every 48 hours, though, there might not be much you can do.
posted by echo target at 1:06 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some cities will tow legally parked vehicles that haven't moved in more than a week. Does your city have a bylaw like that?
posted by Dasein at 1:07 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps you could ask Tom Vanderbilt (info@howwedrive.com; http://www.howwedrive.com/). Might make a good item for his blog. But, as others said, it's going to depend on your local laws.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:09 PM on July 10, 2012


I agree that you should check your bylaws, but make sure the vehicles have been there for the proscribed period before you make the call. In other words, don't say each vehicle hasn't moved for the past week when you saw the Saturn leave and return the day before. Given the circumstances, filing a false report is Not a Good Idea.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:10 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Seconding those who say look into bylaws; "vehicles must be moved every 48 hours" regulations are fairly common in the US. As a bonus, you can probably contact the city Public Works or Streets department, rather than the police, to report him. Good luck!
posted by epj at 1:15 PM on July 10, 2012


If your city doesn't have a "vehicles are considered abandoned if they're parked in the same spot for more than XX hours/days" ordinance, and all the vehicles have current registrations, parking stickers, whatever is needed, calling them in as abandoned is likely to get you looked at as a nuisance and a liar, which is not a place you want to be in vis-a-vis your local traffic and parking enforcement office.

If the city does have the "vehicles are considered abandoned if they're parked in the same spot for more than XX hours/days" ordinance, calling them in may be a reasonable idea.

If there is no such ordinance, consider lobbying your city council member/member of the board of aldermen/whatever you have to enact one.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Johnny Assay's permit parking proposal is a good way to go.

If you're going to go with talking with elected officials, you could also suggest that they clearly demarcate the parking spaces if this isn't being done already, which would mean that if he tries to save a space for himself by spacing his vehicles, he could be ticketed for illegal parking. I'd suggest getting a group of your neighbors to appear together with you when you take this up the ladder.
posted by alphanerd at 1:16 PM on July 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


I agree that Johnny Assay's permit parking proposal is a good way to go.

I've lived in neighborhoods where permits were required to park on the street and where each house could obtain only one permit. That would do the trick.
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on July 10, 2012


ALPHANERD!!!! Great idea about requesting the city to mark out the parking spaces!

There is currently an effort to make our neighborhood permit parking, but the residents on my street are for the most part opting out of it, so we most likely won't be included (which means all the neighboring streets' overflow will come to us, awesome!) I talked to the City Planner heading it off, and each resident will be allowed to get a permit for any vehicle they own. So it'd cost him $100/year to park them all if we get it passed, and I'm petitioning my neighbors to vote positively for this, but it may not solve the issue.

For the max-park-time thing, we have nothing of the sort right now, I already looked into that. If they're registered up to date, they're legal.

As for "why do I care", its because I come home from work and have to park 2-5 blocks away from my own home if theres no open spots on my street. And when I finally walk back to my street, I get to see all his junk vehicles taking up even more space than they need.

I'm going to pursue Alphanerd's suggestion with the city council who are initiating the parking permit plan. That would also solve our other problem, the neighbors with handicap spots who will park halfways in their spot so their friends and relatives have a close reserved spot for themselves.
posted by el_yucateco at 1:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You may also want to talk to your City Councilperson about changing regulations regarding storing vehicles on the street. It's not reasonable for a densely populated area to have no restrictions regarding how long a vehicle can remain parked on a street without being moved.
posted by quince at 1:40 PM on July 10, 2012


Where do you live? Different cities have different regulations regarding what can be left on the city streets. The one thing that may help is he stores things in the cars that he leaves on the streets. Perhaps you can call the local precinct and ask what the rules are regarding someone who has abandoned vehicles with things in the cars that could invite rats. You don't have to tell them your name or address or phone number even though they ask. If there is something regarding vehicles left for a long period of time with what appears to be junk, then you can have everyone call and complain regularly. He can't retaliate against the whole street, but be sure that everyone sticks together on this matter.
posted by Yellow at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2012



As for "why do I care", its because I come home from work and have to park 2-5 blocks away from my own home if theres no open spots on my street. And when I finally walk back to my street, I get to see all his junk vehicles taking up even more space than they need.


If you truly are not afraid of him I would double park, walk up to his front door and ask him to move one of his cars up a bit so you can fit. Do this often enough to become your own nuisance.
posted by Gungho at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is currently an effort to make our neighborhood permit parking, but the residents on my street are for the most part opting out of it... I talked to the City Planner heading it off, and each resident will be allowed to get a permit for any vehicle they own. So it'd cost him $100/year to park them all if we get it passed

At $25 per year per car, the permit proposal sounds more like a minor revenue grab than a serious attempt to address the parking shortage. Is the permit law already set in stone, or could it be influenced? Something like, each car owner's first parking permit is free, and subsequent permits are $100 each might work a lot better. Might also be easier to get passed, since few voters are likely to own more than one car.
posted by jon1270 at 2:00 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


"As for "why do I care", its because I come home from work and have to park 2-5 blocks away from my own home if theres no open spots on my street."

I'd definitely make this point to your councilperson, of course reiterating that young professionals aren't going to be willing to move into these older urban neighborhoods if they have to park five blocks away from their home to accommodate five vehicles, four of them never-used, belonging to one person. If there's one thing that makes city councilmen move on things, it's the threat of middle-class families or young professionals (they pay taxes and hardly use services!) moving away.

I'd also bring in examples of 48-hour parking limits, limits on the number of vehicles per dwelling/resident, etc., from other similar cities in your state (or, failing that, neighboring states).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just had another idea: you request a parking prohibition for a few hours one day a week for street sweeping from your councilperson to force your neighbor to move his vehicles. This will make it increasingly difficult for him to keep all the cars in front of his house, and, over time, they may even wind up on other streets, especially if there's a crush of people looking for parking on your street at the end of the no parking window because it's become widely known that there's ample parking available at this time. It may be a small inconvenience to your neighbors, but if everyone's used to occasionally having to park on other streets, it should be managable. For your neighbor, it will be a huge pain in the ass.

This is a separate issue from whether the street sweeping actually winds up happening.
posted by alphanerd at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


If you truly are not afraid of him I would double park, walk up to his front door and ask him to move one of his cars up a bit so you can fit. Do this often enough to become your own nuisance.

Oh hell yes. I have actually asked people (at the time of them parking) to not park like such jackasses (couched in nicer terms) so that more people could park on the street.

It is a perfectly reasonable request, "hi, neighbor! I need to park my car; would you mind moving your van up about 5 feet so I can get in? Thanks!" and unless he's a sociopath, social convictions would require that he comply.

And if/when he doesn't...more fuel for your formal complaints.
posted by phunniemee at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2012


Be cautious about advocating for 48/72 hour parking restrictions on your street unless you never go on vacation without all of your vehicles. It's common enough, but that one might bite everyone in the ass long term.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:33 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


In our city you can file a complaint online with Code Enforcement for something like this. Although it kind of falls in a weird spot because it specifies storage of inoperable or abandoned vehicles on public and private property. Since he doesn't seem to move these other vehicles frequently I would clump them into the abandoned category. The least that will happen is that the city code enforcement comes to investigate and at least forces him to recognize the problem. If my city follows up on these complaints (I know they do because I have reported a neighbor for property issues before) than yours probably will as well (I love my city but our city gov't isn't the best, but its coming along). I would just google "Your City code enforcement complaints" and see what comes up.
posted by Quincy at 2:33 PM on July 10, 2012


Keep reporting the vehicles. If the police "believe him" over you, then contact Internal Affairs.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


What about throwing a block party - you can usually get a permit to do this and they'll forbid parking on your street for the day of the party. You'll have the party and then have all your neighbors swoop in and take the spaces afterward.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree with the people who say to contact elected officials. Being sneaky can only get you so far. But telling an alderman that this resident owns all these vehicles and is playing these games and wrecking life for the rest of you might well get you some traction.
posted by gjc at 4:12 PM on July 10, 2012


find some old beat up scooters and park them in between his vans. Leave them there.
posted by roboton666 at 4:18 PM on July 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


How much stuff is actually in his vehicles?

Typically semi-abandoned vehicles that are full of stuff end up rodent and flea infested. If it's really bad looking or even bordering on it I'd call Health and Human Services or the like.

While I was dating my wife she lived next to what looked like a pretty nice house that had a car in the driveway that was full of boxes and stuff. It only took one summer for the whole neighborhood to become seriously rat infested as a result of that little mess.

The house and car were quarantined as a bio hazard while county officials checked for plague and rabies. It seemed like an incredibly expensive operation to me.

I'm sure your town would like to avoid such a thing.
posted by snsranch at 5:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am filled with so much rage on your behalf. Parking on my street is serious business as well, and around here egregious repeat violators of parking norms are met with tire damage. Obviously that doesn't meet your legal requirement, so what I would do in your position is press the "unmoving vans filled with crap" angle to your town officials. We resolved a different parking issue on my street by hounding a councilman pretty relentlessly.
posted by crankylex at 5:27 PM on July 10, 2012


jon1270 writes "At $25 per year per car, the permit proposal sounds more like a minor revenue grab than a serious attempt to address the parking shortage."

These kinds of parking schemes aren't in place to prevent abuse by residents. They are in place to prevent suburban residents from driving into urban areas (usually for work) and taking up all the available street parking. The cost doesn't matter because the permits aren't available to non residents.
posted by Mitheral at 5:39 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Photos. Take photos (every day for, say, a week) that show the vans don't move. Heck, maybe pull up Google Street View and satellite images and add the screenshots. Attach the photos to the letter to your alderman.

And CC the most irritating "we make trouble on your behalf" journalist in your city. They will either work for a local TV network affiliate or a regionally significant newspaper. Make sure it's clear to the alderman that you've CC'd the press.
posted by SMPA at 9:45 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


you can also request a time limit for parking. when i first moved into my house 8 years ago (i live on a block-length dead end street with parking permitted on one side of the street only), cars were allowed to park without limits. my block consists of five homes, 2 small multi-tenant buildings, an office building in a converted house, and a back parking lot behind a business facing out on the next street north. a couple of years after i'd been living there, the owner of the office house petitioned the city to have 75% of the available street parking on our block limited to 2hrs during business hours. tho it wasn't the reason for his petition, this did have the added benefit of solving the problems we'd been having with squatting vehicles.
posted by violetk at 1:12 AM on July 11, 2012


SMPA is on to something good! Definitely hand it over to a "consumer affairs" type of TV reporter. I know someone who was getting stone-walled in a small town, and I suggested this; he had results in 24 hours.

They really like shaming police officers and other public servants, and your name & face won't be connected with it.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:08 AM on July 11, 2012


Thanks for the tips everyone, definitely going to pursue some of these new ideas!! The threat of young pro's moving out is a good angle, as is the rats/pest issue (because they are seriously full of junk, full on hoarder style.)

Dunno if anyone's coming back to read my responses, but crazy neighbor has his house wired with security cameras, and doesn't answer his door. I literally watched him enter his house and shut the door, knocked within seconds, kept knocking for a few minutes, and eventually left. He would have definitely heard me knocking, he was ignoring me. Oh well time to take it to the top!
posted by el_yucateco at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2012


Hooooooly shit. Just took a look at Google Streetview of my street, THESE VANS AND TRUCKS HAVE BEEN IN THE SAME SPOT SINCE 2008!!!!!! Can't believe my neighbors are such pushovers, I almost think the spectre of him being a cop / his reputation for being a crazed asshole has just kept everyone at bay this long. Well, either I get this resolved, or I'm moving this year.
posted by el_yucateco at 8:20 AM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do the four vehicles he's not driving have current registration tags? If they don't, check your state's vehicle registration codes for some possibly avenues of help. For example in my state one can register a car as non-operable (and thus not have current tags) but if they do so, the vehicle is not allowed on public streets, even just to be parked.
posted by jamaro at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2012


Can't believe my neighbors are such pushovers, I almost think the spectre of him being a cop / his reputation for being a crazed asshole has just kept everyone at bay this long.

That's exactly what it is, and it isn't hard to understand.
1. He's a cop so, he can get away with almost anything.
2. In your words, he's known as a crazed asshole.

More power to you for trying to resolve the situation. I wouldn't go anywhere near it. You call it being a pushover. I call it self preservation.

To answer the question, I'm agreeing with other folks that nearly every city has laws against parking over a certain amount of time. Report the vehicles. Flag down your local parking officer (who usually isn't a cop). Of course, your neighbor may not be subject to these laws.

Also, many urban areas limit the amount of permits you can purchase. Are you sure it's possible to permit every car he owns? Where I live, you get one permit and two guest passes and that's it.
posted by cnc at 1:42 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dunno if anyone's coming back to read my responses

I have been checking for updates! Anything happen yet?
posted by vegartanipla at 8:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Update: nothing has changed.

His cars are all legally registered and up to date. The City Planning office (which governs parking legislation and rules) are no help... they say he is within his rights. There was a vote for us to be included in a parking permit plan (I'm pretty sure all my neighbors, being the shut-in hermits they are, failed to vote so we weren't included) but it wouldnt have made a difference as the permit plan does INDEED have no limit on the number of vehicles/permits a resident can have. And to respond to those comments of time limits, there is no current time limit, and if we were included in the parking permit program, it would not apply to cars with permits.

So no dice. I'm now trying to put it out of my mind and not be bothered by it. It really sucks, cuz the apartment I have is great, and the ONLY thing dragging it down is the parking situation. A new house was built 2 doors away from this guy, and his vans/trucks completely cover any parking space in front or near to the new house.... they've been doing open houses, and the guy is being openly rude to the realtor/visitors. I really feel bad for whoever is trying to sell it. Any potential buyer will quickly realize they can never park in front of their own house, and that their next door neighbor is a nutjob.

He parked his other car (the one he actually drives) in front of my house one day (while his junkers were spaced out and reserving his another spot.) It took everything in me not to throw a brick out my window through his windshield.... it was right there! I wouldn't even have to throw it, just let gravity do the work!!
posted by el_yucateco at 8:24 AM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


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