Police Chief and Public Works Director discuss parking rules
Parking enforcement has become a priority for Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Al Davis. He told The Sheet in an interview on October 4 that he is getting the community ready for the coming winter and the roadside parking restrictions that go with it; he and Public Works Director Grady Dutton discussed the issue at Mammoth Town Council on Wednesday, November 2.
Davis said that between May 1 and November 1 (when parking on certain Town streets is allowed), the Mammoth Lakes Police Department issued 419 warning citations to cars parked in what were deemed “unsafe” locations. Scott Meunier, a resident of the Sierra Valley Sites, complained that he and his neighbors were being unfairly targeted due to their location and their proximity to workforce housing. Davis told The Sheet in early October that MLPD did its best to give warning citations before fining any violators.
Public Works Director Grady Dutton has authority to place signs and designate parking zones “to improve traffic safety.” The town is phasing in new parking signs during the year with consistent language. At Wednesday’s meeting, Engineering Manager Haislip Hayes showed a slideshow of the sometimes confusing and contradictory signs that can be found around Town. He said there are a total of 19 different “types” of parking signs and over 1019 total signs in Mammoth, so “the task to fix this is quite daunting.”
Hayes proposed in Wednesday’s meeting that Town would replace approximately 800 parking signs in phases, to ensure consistency. The cost of this would be about $15,000 in materials, and the work would be done by Town of Mammoth Lakes crews, Hayes said.
Town of Mammoth Lakes Municipal Code Title 10 states the Public Works Director and Chief of Police have the authority to designate No Parking zones and angled parking zones. The Public Works Director can determine the location of parking regulation signs and the days, time and portion of town streets for parking.
Town Municipal Code 10.12.040 states the Public Works Director shall determine the locations of No Parking zones “to improve traffic safety to provide for the orderly flow of traffic.” Following the approval of Mammoth Town Council, the Public Works Director will be authorized to place red curbs or signage.
Dutton told Council on Wednesday that he and Davis were going to “go back through every intersection together…then we’re going to try to enforce it better…our commitment to the Town as a whole is to get this whole program back to Council.”
“We have enough perception problems about the government of [Town] already,” said Council member Bill Sauser, who lives on Manzanita, near one of the areas of highest density where people received tickets this fall. “We’ve created another nightmare for ourselves by changing in midstream.” He believes the changes should have come before the Town before warnings or citations were issued.
Dutton said that even he and Davis did not always see eye to eye on what spots were deemed acceptable or safe.
“Strictly speaking from the Police Department standpoint [dirt off-street parking] shouldn’t be a parking space unless its paved, it has striping on it …” said Dutton.