City of Duluth Increases Enforcement of Lawn Parking
Duluth homeowners recently received letters from the city informing them that there will be increased enforcement of the regulations surrounding lawn parking.
“The city code has specific regulations for what qualifies as a driveway, and a lot of things that look like driveways and function like driveways don’t qualify,” said Mike Kenyana, Student Representative to the Board of Regents for UMD’s Student Association.
The letter explained that “the City of Duluth has received a large number of complaints regarding vehicles parked in front yards, particularly in certain neighborhoods... The concerns that have been expressed include the destruction of front lawns, overcrowding, the hindering of access to residences by emergency services, harm to the environment, and general unsightliness.”
“It’s not a new law,” Kenyana said, “but it’s new that they’re enforcing it and not just enforcing it anywhere but enforcing it specifically in areas adjacent to the school.”
The letter listed Woodland Avenue from East 4th Street to Oxford Street, West College Street and West Arrowhead Road from Woodland Avenue to Rice Lake Road as the areas that will be under increased enforcement.
Consequences for cars parked in front lawns or illegal parking pads will result in a $24.00 parking violation notice for the car owner and a $200.00 zoning violation for the property owner.
“The problem is that a lot of students signed leases knowing that they would be able to park in x-amount of spots and now all of a sudden they can’t,” Kenyana said. “To make matters worse, some of those places do not offer on-street parking.”
A petition was created by Mike Purtell, Vice President of External Affairs for UMD’s Student Association, and Mike Kenyana in an effort to stay the enforcement until June 1, 2017 when tenants will be signing new leases. The petition argues that when students signed their current leases, they were unaware that some of their parking spaces would be unusable.
“I signed the petition, my roommates signed it, and my parents, who own the house, signed it,” UMD senior Milayna Beadell said.
“We basically destroyed our backyard,” Beadell said. “We layed black tarp and crushed black top in order to make a parking lot in the back yard because we couldn’t pave the front. We called the city to get a variance to park on the front lawn and they said no.”
Duluth City Council President, Zack Filipovich, said it’s more complex than just a parking issue.
“It’s a density issue, it’s a land use issue, it’s an environmental issue and it’s certainly a public safety issue,” Filipovich said.
Filipovich also said that residential parking has been revisited a number of times for decades.
“We have all these rental properties that have been chopped up and the lot sizes are too small and we have six people living on it when it was meant for four people and two cars,” Filipovich said. “You can move your backyard, or you can have fewer bedrooms. Just don’t rent to as many people.”
The city will be meeting with the Student Association sometime soon to discuss the issue.
“We don’t have some magic solution,” Kenyana said. “But we want to get at that table and sit with them and figure it out together.”
Filipovich said he intends to be at that meeting, and if he were to offer students any advice on this matter it would be to, “Stay tuned, stay involved, and stay positive.”