ActivePaper Archive City approves on-street parking restrictions near HHS - Hobbs News Sun, 6/6/2019

City approves on-street parking restrictions near HHS

One city leader calls measure Irresponsible Parent Parking Act Only one of three neighborhoods had sufficient petitioners


This photo taken in February shows the congested parking on North Murray Street south of Hobbs High School during the school day.

On-street parking near Hobbs High School will be restricted when the school year begins in mid-August, but not to the extent some neighbors had wanted.

After a public hearing Monday night with testimony from just one person, the Hobbs City Commission unanimously approved a resolution establishing on-street permit parking in the Eagle Park subdivision west of the high school.

Petitions calling for on-street permit parking north and south of the high school did not receive enough signatures, said City Clerk Jan Fletcher, and therefore on-street parking in those neighborhoods will remain open to the public.

Fletcher said there was one petition signature in favor of permit parking in the north neighborhood, and only one letter regarding permit parking in the south neighborhood, falling well short of the 67 percent threshold set by the city. The deadline to gather signatures on petitions from the 293 affected homes was May


The issue of high-schoolers parking on streets near the high school came to a head in early February after a resident posted photos on social media of bumper-to-bumper parking in front of her home. That led to meetings between city and school officials and residents from the west, north and south of the high school campus.

No high school students attended any of the meetings, although some of them explained to the News-Sun outside the meetings why they chose to park on nearby streets rather than the high school’s expansive permit-only parking lot.

Beginning in mid-August, on-street parking in the Eagle Park subdivision will be restricted on weekdays and only when school is in session, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Mayor Sam Cobb said enforcement will be complaint-driven.

“We certainly are not going to dispatch police officers into the neighborhood to try to disrupt everybody’s life,” Cobb said. “But if someone is violating the resolution, we would hope that it would dealt with on a complaint basis.”

Cortney Whitley, who lives along Sandia Drive, spearheaded the permit-parking effort, going door-to-door in March asking neighbors to sign the petition. She presented a petition to city leaders last month with signatures from 65 of the 67 occupied homes in her subdivision in favor of making her neighborhood a permit-parking zone.

Whitley told city leaders last month that her neighbors were having problems with student-driven vehicles blocking their driveways during lunch hours, difficulties getting health care professionals to their homes, having to hire people to pick up trash on weekends, and having their dogs harmed by students.

Whitley said stay-at-home moms were afraid to leave their homes, a single woman came home to find high-schoolers doing drugs in her backyard, children didn’t want to stay at their homes because of the parking problems and a woman ended her maternity leave early “because she couldn’t deal with the attitudes of the students.”

Whitley said polite requests not to park on streets were met with aggression from students and howeowners feared retaliation.

“Overwhelmingly these neighbors expressed the same feelings, that they had begun to feel like prisoners in their homes and that had resigned themselves to this acceptance because there was no hope of a solution,” Whitley told city leaders last month. “Upon the approval of the commission, we look forward to reclaiming our peaceful neighborhood.”

Whitley suggested last month that city leaders approve moveable placards for homeowners identified by addresses, rather than affixed stickers to vehicles, and city leaders heeded her request.

Each address in the Eagle Park subdivision will be given three free placards annually to place inside vehicles, two for residents and one for visitors. A professional services placard for businesses will be available at Hobbs Municipal Court.

Cobb noted Eagle Park residents who park in their driveways or otherwise park on their properties will not need placards.

“Only if they’re parking in the public right-of-way,” he said.

Whitley was the only person to testify for or against the resolution at Monday’s public hearing. She said parking in the neighborhood has been an issue for years, since renovations of nearby City Park.

“It has caused extreme physical, mental and emotional stress on me and residents in my neighborhood regarding just unwanted people, unwanted trash, unwanted activities,” Whitley said. “It’s really gotten to be a problem.”

City Commissioner Marshall Newman said the resolution could be termed the Irresponsible Parent Parking Act. He said some students who park on-street have permits to park in the school’s expansive parking lot, but choose not to.

“So now those residents have to live with yellow curbs and signs because someone else is not taking care of business,” Newman said. “It’s not the school’s fault, it’s not those residents’ fault, it’s not the city’s fault. It just comes back to the parents of those kids that drive.”

City Commissioner Dwayne Penick commended Whitley for her efforts.

“I know that you started out on this and you headed this whole thing up,” Penick said. “And your commitment to getting this done and your follow-through is commendable, and I’m sure all your neighbors feel the same way, so thank you.”

Assistant city attorney Valerie Chacon said the city manager has the unilateral authority to implement public parking restrictions.

“But prior to exercising his authority, he has sought input from members of the public, for and against, by implementing the petition process, spanning from March 20 to May 20 of 2019, and input from this commission, which will be measured by the commission’s action following this public hearing,” Chacon told city leaders.

Chacon said the parking restrictions will begin prior to the start of the 2019-20 school year. She said although summer classes are underway at the high school, there are no current problems with students parking on streets.

“And I don’t think our residents that brought this to us requested it be during the summertime, correct?” Cobb asked.

“They did not, mayor,” Chacon said, “You’re correct.”

Chacon said if a vehicle is attended, the driver will be ticketed. If the vehicle is unattended, the citation will be issued to the vehicle’s registered owner. Parking violations would be subject to a $25 fine under the city’s Uniform Traffic Ordinance, with $39 of court costs, totaling $64, Chacon said.

The city’s Engineering Department estimated the required signs to cost $1,000. The Hobbs Municipal Court estimated the costs of the placards to total $800.

Chacon said vehicles violating the permit-parking hours would not be towed, unless the vehicle presents a safety hazard such as blocking a fire hydrant or driveway.

Jeff Tucker can be reached at managingeditor@hobbsnews. com.