In 1959, the Saginaw City Council enacted a parking ordinance that prohibited parking on the city streets from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. In an e-mail, sent to the Mayor and City Council, I requested that the City of Saginaw repeal or amend this ordinance. In response to my request, the current Mayor, Greg Branch, responded that the city enacted the “No Overnight Parking” ordinance to allow for street sweeping. He also noted that there were safety and aesthetic reasons for maintaining this ordinance. I would like to challenge the Mayor’s response with common sense, reason, facts and examples that will invalidate his response and then I will address the reasons the City of Saginaw should repeal or amend this ordinance.
I moved to Saginaw in 2003, and in the 8 years I have lived here the street sweepers have come down my street a maximum of 10 times. Of those, two were during the hours 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. and the remainder were during normal business hours. With that being said, there is no practical reason to prohibit overnight parking 365 days a year to accommodate street sweepers that make an appearance at an average of 25% of the time. Even in major cities, like Chicago, they allow overnight parking and still sweep their streets once a week.
In response to the safety issues requiring this overnight parking ban, I ask what safety issues are prevalent between 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. that are not prevalent the rest of the day. I have searched high and low for statistics and/or articles that address parking on city streets during 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. being the cause of more safety issues than at any other time of day and I cannot find them. In my opinion, this is just one more made-up fact that the City created to impose unnecessary ordinances upon its citizens. If there were actual statistics proving that parking on the city streets between 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. is unsafe, all municipalities would have ordinances like this one, or ordinances that prohibit parking on any city streets during any time of day.
The last reason given for maintaining this ordinance is the most absurd of all; the City of Saginaw is maintaining this ordinance for aesthetic reasons. In response to this statement, I want you to think about the following questions.
· What percentage of people are awake between the hours of 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.?
· Of these people, how many are driving along our city streets?
· Of these people, how many are making note of what our streets look like and deciding if they are aesthetically pleasing?
Are you shaking your head in disbelief? I did. How would maintaining this ordinance make our streets more aesthetically pleasing? Logically, it does not. It would be more logical to have parking prohibited on the streets when a majority of the citizens are awake and driving on them.
During these times of economic hardship, there are several families living together in one household to survive. The majority of homes built in Saginaw, are single-family homes and as such, were built to provide parking for one family. These homes have a one car garage and space in the driveway for one other vehicle. This is not enough parking for two families living together, or families with grown children living at home. We are left parking in the yard, on the apron, or at abandoned houses to keep from receiving a $10 ticket every night. By not repealing or amending this ordinance, the City of Saginaw is placing additional burdens on their citizens that are not needed.
With the holiday season upon us, my family has had to make some tough decisions about where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not being able to have out of town company stay at our house (because they have no place to park) has forced us to travel to and stay at our relatives homes instead. I do not think anyone in the City has considered how deeply this affects the City of Saginaw’s revenue. By making it difficult to have overnight company, the City has lost revenue from their spending, as well as mine, because I will be spending my money in another city. I would assume the revenue collected from retail spending would outweigh the revenue collected from citations issued for violating this parking ordinance.
This is not the time or place to penalize the citizens of Saginaw for something as miniscule as this. This antiquated ordinance is not being utilized for its original intention, and because the reasons for its enactment are no longer viable reasons, it should be repealed. By repealing this ordinance, the City will provide its citizens some financially deserved consideration and free up some time for law enforcement to focus on more life changing violations.
"government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." ~Abraham Lincoln (11/19/1863)