The Ottumwa City Council recently approved a revision to the Nuisance Code (Ottumwa Municipal Code, Chapter 24) relating to parking vehicles in the front yard in residential areas. Parking of motor vehicles and trailers in the front yard portion of any residential lot, except on an improved, hard-surfaced area or driveway, is now prohibited. Vehicles parked in the area between the street and the front of the home must be on a driveway or improved surface.
Parking in the yard opens the door to a number of issues that negatively impact the quality of neighborhoods. It reduces the amount of green space by killing grass and even trees. Soon muddy ruts can develop, tracking mud and debris across sidewalks and streets. The purpose of this change is to improve neighborhoods for all residents and property owners.
City of Ottumwa Director of Health and Inspections Jody Gates said, ” We want to get the word out about this change and help residents find better parking solutions. As with other sections of the nuisance code, when our inspectors note a violation, they leave a written notice giving the vehicle owner five days to correct the situation. We understand that this change may cause some inconvenience for residents at first. The City is committed to working with residents to minimize hardships and give reasonable time for people working toward voluntary compliance. The ordinance is a step toward the goal of clean and nuisance free atmosphere for all Ottumwa neighborhoods.”
The new code is intended to address regular, daily or long term parking in front yards. It was specifically designed to allow residents some leeway for unusual situations. Parking in the front yard is allowed during snow emergencies or occasions when a resident may need additional parking for guests at gatherings such as a family reunion or birthday party. Short term parking in the yard for loading or unloading heavy items, moving or for vehicles and equipment being used for construction/renovation work is acceptable.
If a property is found to have vehicles inappropriately parked in the front yard, the vehicle owner is given a written notice explaining the violation. The owner will have five days to correct the situation. If the owner fails to remove the vehicles from the front yard in a timely manner, the City can issue a civil citation and have the vehicle removed and impounded.
Fines for civil citations are; the first violation in a 12-month period carries a $250 fine (plus court costs), second violation increases to a $500 fine and third and subsequent violations in the same 12 month period carry a $750 fine. A property owner or occupant would have to be nuisance free for 12 months for the cost of citations to revert back to the $250 level.