According to Toledo Municipal Code, Section 351.07 Standing and/or parking; prohibited or limited, it is illegal to:
(33) Stand or park a vehicle upon any unpaved portion of a front lot or side lot in any residence district, or upon any unpaved portion of a vacant lot in any residence district, except as otherwise permitted under the local Zoning Ordinance, Part Eleven of the Toledo Municipal Code.
The problem is that only certain individuals are authorized, under Toledo's code, to issue such tickets.
351.18. Parking tickets.
Whenever any vehicle without an operator is found parked or standing in violation of the provisions of this Traffic Code or State law, the police officer finding such vehicle shall take its registration number and may take any other information which may identify its user and shall conspicuously affix to such vehicle a parking ticket. Such ticket shall give notice of the charge against the operator of such vehicle and the place and hours that the charge shall be answered. The officer shall send a copy of such parking ticket to the place where the charge is to be answered.(emphasis added)
Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, told WSPD that he is considering filing a complaint with the court over a contract violation, as only police officers have this authority (except in the downtown area where the city has authorized the Downtown Parking Authority to issue certain types of tickets for meter violations).
Wagner was also encouraging individuals to fight the tickets in court.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner refused to respond to questions about the ticketing from various news media, saying he'd already answered any and all questions regarding that issue - despite the fact that his statement was in response to questions he'd not yet answered.
He also issued the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 15, 2009
City of Toledo addresses illegally parked vehicles
In response to a citizen complaint to the City of Toledo Board of Community Relations, the Commissioner of Streets, Bridges and Harbor responded by going to the location of the complaint to assess whether it was valid or not. She personally observed that it was a valid complaint. She observed several illegally parked vehicles along the first street she visited. While there, a neighbor asked her to check out his street, which also had a number of illegally parked vehicles. Once she observed they too were illegally parked, she cited them as well.
The City of Toledo supports its laws in general and illegally parked vehicles can and will be ticketed, and these tickets are considered valid.
Well, just because the mayor considers these tickets valid doesn't make them so. The law director should have been consulted, but that might have resulted in an opinion Carty didn't like. In the end, the Toledo Municipal Court judge who hears any such challenge will decide if a city employee can assume the role of a police officer and issue a parking ticket.
However, as I said last night during Eye On Toledo, watch out! If the court decides this has to be done by a police officer, I expect the city's next step will be to decriminalize such offenses, have city employees take photographs of the parked vehicle and then issue a civil fine, appealable only to a hearing officer hired by the city, and when not paid, send it to collection - just like they do for red-light and speed cameras.
After all - if it works for other traffic violations, why not for parking violations as well?!? All to get some extra cash because our politicians have spent us into million dollar deficits.
UPDATE: The tickets issued to the residents by the acting commissioner are not regular traffic citations. They are the white form parking tickets - usually disbursed by the Downtown Parking Authority. Under TMC 129.05, certain individuals within city government have special police powers:
(a) Special police power is hereby conferred upon the following officers of the City: Mayor, President of Council, members of Council, Clerk of Council, Director of Law and all Legal Assistants to the Director of Law, Police Prosecutor, Director of Public Service and Commissioner of Streets, Bridges and Harbor; and such power is hereby determined to be the same and coextensive with that of the police officers of the Department of Police Operations. The Director of Police Operations is hereby directed to procure for each of the above officials suitable badges which shall remain the property of the City.
And Chapter 309 of the TMC specifically cites individuals authorized under the 129.05 definitions as having authority to issue tickets. So the tickets are, technically, valid.
However, that brings up the question of whether or not the city is selectively enforcing the law about parking on unpaved areas in the front and side yards, especially since many homes within the city have gravel driveways and have had them since before this particular law was put in place.