LOGAN City officials admit they turned a blind eye while property owners illegally created extra parking spaces by paving the strip between the sidewalk and the street. Nevertheless, the city is considering ripping out the parking spaces and many property owners are upset.
"They're trying to enforce something that they have allowed for 50 years," said Bruce Rigby, who owns two small apartment buildings on 300 East in Logan.
But Jay Nielson, Logan's community development director, said parking places on the so-called "park strip" create safety hazards because automobiles often stick out into the street and block sidewalks, which forces pedestrians to walk on the streets.
Nielson said there are more than 800 illegal parking spaces, mostly at older homes in central Logan that have been converted into apartments. The proliferation of apartments is harming neighborhoods where single families once occupied most of the homes, he said.
"We've seen some disturbing trends in non-owner-occupied housing," Nielson said. "The parking in the park strip is a manifestation of deterioration."
City Councilwoman Tami Pyfer said Logan residents have asked the city to crack down on the illegal spots.
"I'm responding to what citizens have been complaining about for several years," Pyfer said.
Nearly 150 people packed City Hall on April 30 when the City Council held a hearing on a proposed resolution to direct city officials to enforce laws against parking on the park strip. And one property owner has posted a sign on his lawn reading: "Logan City Leave Our Property Alone!"
The City Council is scheduled to consider the resolution again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 13. Logan is considering using $200,000 in federal Community Development Grants to help cover the costs of city crews tearing out the parking spaces.
Although property owners are responsible for maintaining the space between the sidewalk and curb, the park strips are city property. Some property owners have suggested the city allow parking spaces that have been on the park strip for decades to remain.
But Pyfer said such "grandfathering" would be illegal.
"Legally, you cannot adversely possess public property," she said. "By the same token, you can't 'grandfather' public use of private property."
Logan is considering selling permits for $200 that would allow residents to park on the street 24 hours a day all year to compensate for the lost parking. To make room for snowplows, it's now illegal to park on the street overnight during the winter.
The city also is considering relaxing rules that prohibit construction within eight feet of property lines. If the distance is reduced to one foot, property owners could more easily pave parts of their yards to create parking.
"We're not taking any parking away," Neilson said. "We're just changing the location."
But instead of embarking on a massive effort to remove illegal parking spaces, Rigby would rather see the city create a commission to consider each case.
Mayor Randy Watts said officials will consider various options before the next council meeting."Possibly, that could happen," he said. "Between now and then some of these questions will be reviewed."
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