by TaLeiza Calloway
After multiple deliberations by the St. Joseph City Council and the St. Joseph Planning Commission, confusion about off-street parking is over.
City council members unanimously approved an ordinance amendment that defines rules for parking pads, their standards and location on properties. The change means parking pads or off-street parking facilities have to be improved to provide a durable and dust-free surface consisting of concrete, asphalt, pavers or similar material in front and side yards.
St. Joseph Police Chief Pete Jansky said it was hard to enforce the ordinance due to uncertainty.
“Now I have something to work with,” Jansky said. “Before, we had suspended enforcement.”
Jansky said the change will be a gradual one and will require some costs to residents to bring current parking areas in compliance with the ordinance.
“We will work with people,” Jansky said. “We will not be heavy-handed.”
At previous meetings, city officials expressed concerns about limiting the use of a resident’s yard as well as concern of perceived impact on neighboring home values with people parking on front lawns. City
Council member Bob Loso also cautioned officials previously about regulating backyard use. However, the ordinance changes are specific to the front and side yards.
The ordinance states existing driveways not improved to a durable and dust-free surface are not required to be upgraded unless it is determined the current driveway surface materials are washing into the public street.
St. Joseph City Administrator Judy Weyrens said the change takes effect after the amendment is published in about a week or so. Residents will be given some leeway as they work toward compliance, she said.
“We’ll have to do some education,” Weyrens said.