Santa Paula Times

City Council: Minor dust up over street sweeping and illegal parking

March 27, 2009
Santa Paula City Council

There was a minor dust up at the March 16 Council meeting over those that are ticketed on the days signage directs them to leave curbs clear for city street sweepers.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThere was a minor dust up at the March 16 Council meeting over those that are ticketed on the days signage directs them to leave curbs clear for city street sweepers. Interim Public Works Director Jon Turner said street sweeping is required by law, including the state’s regional water board’s order to keep debris out of storm drains.“Our schedule and intent is to sweep every street in Santa Paula twice a month” using the city’s “very old” sweepers, although Turner noted exceptions are made for weather and personnel availability. Some streets in the city are posted no parking according to the sweeper’s schedule, based on “historical issues” Turner said are centered on the number of vehicles on the street as well as street width.Mayor Ralph Fernandez questioned whether streets that now have signage were swept in the past, and if the city is issuing additional citations for such parking violations.Turner said that with additional staffing Santa Paula police have been able to support the parking enforcement effort. In years past the law was barely or not enforced.Signage, said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, was adjusted to reflect a more “accurate schedule” of twice a month instead of weekly parking bans.Police Chief Steve MacKinnon told the Council the department’s parking enforcement program has been active, and has become more so in the past year. Issuing citations depends on officer workload, “but they’re out there on a fairly regular basis enforcing certain areas” found troublesome and recommended by Public Works for enforcement.Councilman Bob Gonzales, who initially requested the item, said his concerns center on those ticketed although the street sweeper did not appear per schedule. If the sweeper has to maneuver around an illegally parked vehicle it should be cited, but “I don’t think it’s appropriate or the intent” that a ticket be issued in the absence of the sweeper. “I don’t look at this as a way to generate money because we can,” and Gonzales added several people said they were ticketed although the sweeper never came.
Fernandez recommended the Council be aware of the issue and if needed readdress same in the future, but “If I knew” the sweeper was scheduled, he would move his own vehicle out of the way.The signage, said Bobkiewicz, was only placed in areas where efficient sweeping became an issue.“My issue,” said Gonzales, “is if the sweeper is not going to go down the street for some reason,” those parked at the curb on noticed sweeper days should not be ticketed. “That’s my desire, that they not be ticketed,” and he suggested the SPPD contact Public Works before issuing tickets to see if the sweeper would be sweeping per schedule.“I think we have to honor no parking signs” posted and, added Councilman Fred Robinson, “I think we have to establish a system of policing the streets if this is a chronic public works issue.”Turner noted that there were streets where parking on sweeper day did become a chronic problem, leading to neighborhood residents contacting the city to ask why the streets weren’t being cleaned.“But if the sweeper is not going down the street,” Gonzales said it would not be swept. After more discussion Gonzales made a motion to direct employees to limit parking enforcement to the days the sweeper actually cleans the street.The employees take direction from the City Manager, said Bobkiewicz, and “My job is to enforce the laws of the city of Santa Paula as I see fit... so the direction then is to ignore the law of a posted sign. I would appreciate” clarification because, he added, “I would come back to the Council with other laws” to ignore.The motion failed and Bobkiewicz said he would work with public works and the SPPD, and that they would use their “best professional judgment to deal with scofflaws” to enforce the law.