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Ordinance would prohibit parking of recreational vehicles in yards

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A proposed Bossier City ordinance would prohibit the parking of recreational vehicles in front or side yards.

City Council approved the ordinance on first reading last week. Second and final reading is expected at the next scheduled meeting, June 3.

The measure, formally introduced at last week’s City Council meeting, had been briefly discussed at the May 13 agenda setting meeting where council members suggested changes to some of its provisions.

For purposes of the ordinance, recreational vehicles are defined as any vehicle used for recreational purposes “including but not limited to campers, recreational vehicles, boats, ATVs or utility trailers.”

The ordinance prohibits such vehicles from being parked or stored upon the front yard, lawn or side street yard of a corner lot.

Any such vehicles in front of a residence must be parked in legal garages, carports or on a paved driveway or surface. The parking of such vehicles in a manner that obstructs the sidewalk is prohibited.

What city officials are hoping to accomplish is ensuring pedestrians don’t have to leave sidewalks and go into streets to get around RVs, boats, ATVs and other types of recreational vehicles. With taller and larger RVs, officials are also concerned that lines of sight would be blocked and could lead to accidents.

As drafted, the proposal calls for a $500 per day fine. At the May 13 agenda setting meeting, some council members expressed concern that amount of fine was excessive for a small boat costing a few hundred dollars but might be more appropriate for an RV costing tens of thousands of dollars. Others said having different fine amounts for RVs and small boats would be akin to having one speeding fine for expensive cars and a lesser fine for less expensive vehicles.

When the ordinance was drafted, officials had the choice of having the ordinance enforced through either the Property Standards office (much like tall grass) or through the Police Department. City officials said going through Property Standards would be labor intensive and a long drawn-out process. By enforcing the ordinance through the Police Department, an officer investigating a complaint could issue a citation and take a digital photo to use as evidence if needed.

Officials said initially offenders would be given a verbal warning but a notation would appear in the Police Department electronic records  for that specific address. That way, officials said, the second time police  responded to a complaint at the same address they would know that a verbal warning had already been given and they could issue a written citation.

The measure was approved with little discussion at last week’s first reading.

One city resident at the meeting said he wasn’t necessarily opposed to the ordinance but that it could affect several people in his neighborhood.

Councilman Don Williams urged use of  “common sense” in enforcing the ordinance. He noted some people might return home from using their boat or other recreational vehicle past midnight and might not immediately park the vehicle within the parameters outlined in the ordinance.