Anyone who is tired of looking at cars parked in their neighbors' front or side yards may call police to get something done about it, thanks to a new city ordinance, a Lawrence police spokesman said.
Police are using discretion, at least for now, in punishing a few reported violators of a new city ordinance that prohibits residents from parking in front or side yards, Sgt. Mark Warren said today.
Police have issued at least five tickets since the ordinance was adopted by the city commission on May 19, a secretary in the police records division said.
"We're working on a complaint basis," Warren said. "Eventually, we'll be coming by and giving parking tickets . . . but right now we're trying to work with the owner."
The ordinance prohibits parking in front or side yard setback areas the area between the public right of way and structure unless the vehicle is on a parking surface or driveway specified by the city.
The ordinance gives police the power to ticket vehicles in violation. Violations carry fines of $25 to $100.
WARREN said police citations that have been written so far have carried a $25 fine.
He said police will use discretion in issuing tickets "for a certain period of time" until the public becomes aware of the new ordinance. Police eventually will issue tickets on a regular basis, probably before the end of the summer, he said.
"I can't tell you how long it will be," Warren said.
But he said police again would use discretion for a time during the fall, when thousands of college students return to Lawrence.
"From a practical point of view, probably the first thing an officer would do, since this is a new law, is try to contact the owner," Warren said.
HE SAID an officer may ask the owner to move a vehicle that violates the ordinance and not issue a ticket.
"Any ticket is always at the discretion of the officer," he said. "They're not mandated to give a ticket."
Warren said a ticket may be issued, for example, if the owner is not home and the vehicle is disabled and illegally parked in a yard.
He said he did not know how many complaints police have received since the ordinance was adopted. The police do not keep statistics on such calls, or on the number of parking tickets according to the type of violation, he said.
"That's not something that's relevant to us," he said.
City Management Analyst Dave Corliss said the city manager's office has forwarded a few complaints to the police department in recent weeks.
Warren said bringing residents into compliance with the ordinance is the police department's goal.
"IF WE CAN do that without writing a ticket, we will."
Before the ordinance was passed, the only avenue for getting a vehicle out of a yard was to call city officials.
City officials would try to contact the property owner, often a landlord, who then would have to get in touch with tenants.