Give police ability to enforce ordinance

Atascadero Police Chief Jerel Haley presented a parking violation law enforcement issue during the Oct. 8 City Council Meeting. Haley asked the Council to reevaluate the wording of the ordinance to help clarify parking violation enforcement practices. 

“One of the violations we are commonly called on to enforce has to do with time limit parking in our downtown shopping areas specifically,”
Haley said.

Interpreting the law is not a cut and dry practice, but is filled with nuances and subtleties. The two schools of thought when it comes to interpretation are the Spirit of the Law; what the writers were trying to accomplish and the Letter of the Law which interprets the law at face value. In the case of the City’s parking law’s one word kept the police from enforcing parking violations. Haley said the word “shall” in the law caused confusion as to whether a parking time limit could be legally enforced.

The Ordinance in question, Municipal Code Title 14. Chapter 2. Article 13. (b) reads Time limit parking zones shall be indicated by green paint upon the top of all curbs in said zones. Green shall mean no standing or parking for a period longer than indicated at any time between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. for any day except Sundays and holidays. 


Haley indicated that he believed the ‘legislative intent’ was to indicate the color of the paint and did not necessarily mean the curbs needed to be painted in order to be designated a time-limited parking zone. The Chief said that the current wording seems to dictate that despite signage indicating parking time limits, curbs still needed to be colored green. Haley essentially stated that it is far more cost-effective for the City if the Council amended a word instead of initiating a city-wide curb painting project.

The Council unanimously voted to approve the amendment after Haley fielded a few questions. At Mayor Pro Tem Charles Bourbeau’s prompting, Haley clarified that this amendment only relates to the time limit parking spaces with green curbs and the fire lanes and red-painted curbs are addressed in a completely different city code.