Jan 12

The Cone People, Portland Street Parking “Reservations”

Most of the houses in our North Portland neighborhood do not have driveways, so we are all left to fend for ourselves to find a parking spot on the street. I understand the urge to want to park in the space conveniently close to your house (it feels like an unstated right); it can be a real source of frustration when people have overrun from the recently gentrified nightlife one street away to take over our available parking. Some evenings I have had to park a couple of blocks away from the house due to these visitors, or due to neighbors’ guests who have thoughtlessly double parked in front of our house.

I started to notice that several residents down the street always put out orange cones to “save” their parking spot on the street in front of their house. This is not okay. (I get it. I understand why people want to save “their” spot.)

It is illegal to put anything other than a working vehicle* in the street. Streets are public property, a right of way for all to use. It is not right to try to reserve a spot for yourself or put out cones to save your spot.

Today I called the Portland Transportation Parking Enforcement Division (503-823-5195) and was advised that anyone facing the issue of Cone People should just move the cones or park around them. The staff member I talked with clearly knew this as an ongoing issue, yet seemed to imply that there was nothing official to do about it. When I pressed further to tell her about one particular person on our street who started storing old car tires and a slab of wood next to his cones on the street, she transferred me over to someone in maintenance. The staff member in maintenance informed me that they can not issue compliance notices, those have to come from “elsewhere.” He then advised me to speak with someone at Neighborhood Inspections (503-823-2633). BINGO!

I spoke with Bill (Portland Neighborhood Inspections, 503-823-2633) who took down the offending addresses and information and assured me they would send out an inspector and cite the property if they find a violation. If cited, the resident would then have 15 to 30 days to fix the violation (!!) or face fines.

While I would feel a lot more justified in my righteous indignation if there was an official statement on the Department of Transportation’s website about the unlawfulness of putting cones or other obstructions in the street, after some time clicking around online, I was able to dig up the official city code that addresses this issue.

Portland City Code: Chapter 17.44 Street Obstructions

17.44.010 Unlawful Acts Enumerated.
  It is unlawful for any person to obstruct or cause to be obstructed any roadway, curb or sidewalk by leaving or placing, any object, material or article which may prevent free passage over any part of such street or sidewalk area. This Section does not authorize any action in violation of any other Title or regulation.

Here is some more information about rules and such:

Portland City Code: Title 16 Vehicles and Traffic

specifically, street obstructions

Parking Regulations & Violations

Chapter 17.28 Sidewalks, Curbs and Driveways

Oregon Vehicle Code Book

* FYI: Technically, any car parked more than 24 hours in one spot could be considered abandoned and will be cited and towed if the Portland Transportation Department has discovers it (report abandoned autos [more info here] by calling the Parking Enforcement Division at 503-823-5195).

Street Storage and Abandoned Autos:
Any type of vehicle abandoned and/or stored on the public right-of-way in excess of 24 hours will be subject to CITATION and TOW AWAY. This includes boats, campers, trailers, etc. Click here for more information about Abandoned Autos. Questions on abandoned autos? Call 503-823-6814, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday

One Response to “The Cone People, Portland Street Parking “Reservations””

  1. Rachel B Says:

    Downtown Austin has similar issues…at our apartment complex you have to pay $25/month per parking spot, so we opted out of paying for parking and park on neighboring streets, a 5 or 7 minute walk from our apartment. Recently some people who live is some newly built duplexes on a neighboring street(which include garages) put signs out that declare the street outside their duplex “their” spot, and any other cars parking there will be towed. Have you ever heard of a street where only two spots were reserved for someone in particular??? We strongly suspect that those signs, while made to look like real tow-away signs, are not city-issued or city-approved, so David reported them last week. Grrr…I feel your pain.

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