Ridgeland changes onstreet parking ordinance

By NIKKI ROWELL,

A change to the city of Ridgeland’s street parking right-of-way ordinance will now allow law enforcement to take action without a complaint from a resident.

“The wording in the previous ordinance stated that we (law enforcement) could only take action after having first received a complaint from a citizen,” Ridgeland Police Chief John Neal said.

Previously, if someone was violating the city’s street parking ordinance, residents would issue a complaint and an officer would respond.

“The officer would make contact with the violator and provide them with a copy of the ordinance as an educational step in the process,” Neal said. “Hopefully, the educational component would gain compliance and we would have the violation cleared.”

If not, then the officer would issue a field release summons for the violator to appear in court. 

“The new wording added ‘or by observation of a police officer,’ which basically means we do not have to wait on a complaint from a citizen and we can jump straight to the ‘educational’ phase of delivering an ordinance,” Neal said.

This will allow officers to impound any vehicle which remains on the street for five days after a warning has been issued, or if the vehicle owner is unable to be located. 

“As a precaution for future growth in the city, a provision was inserted to allow the mayor and board to designate certain areas of the city to allow for on-street parking,” Neal said.

According to Neal, there have been a few areas in the city designated to allow street parking due to construction of residential areas.

“The Township and Boardwalk Boulevard off Lake Harbor are the two that come to mind,” Neal said. “This provision allows for designation, if warranted, in the future.”

According to the parking on street right-of-way ordinance, its passage is due, in part, to the city’s desire to keep its streets free of obstructions as much as possible to “facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles, refuse collection and delivery services.

Neal said no specific circumstances have come up in the past where on-street parking caused an issue for emergency vehicles that he can recall.

“But, as with most concerns such as this, if it is brought to our attention and discussed, we can normally rectify a situation prior to it being involved in an issue,” Neal said.

It is also a concern of the Ridgeland Police Department that a vehicle regularly parked on the street becomes a “softer target for crime.”

The ordinance was approved at the October 1 meeting of the Ridgeland board of aldermen and takes effect 30 days after approval.

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