Its a common problem in communities along the Central Coast, too many vehicles clogging residential neighborhood streets with more and more people sharing the high cost of housing.
“Its a huge problem in Santa Maria, you can just go around to anybody in town and ask them”, says David Simmons who says he’s lived in the same house on West Boone Street in Santa Maria for about 25 years.
Simmons says he’s seen the parking along the narrow streets in his older neighborhood become more than just a nuisance and inconvenience.
“So many people are living in single family houses that have multiple families living in them, and it just takes up all the space”, Simmons says, “we can’t park in front of our house unless we get there first, and I just don’t think it should be that way.”
Simmons says the problem has become a public safety issue.
“Just the other day I was at a friend’s house, their neighbor has I think three families living in there, a bunch of cars”, Simmons says, “they were taking up a spot in front of someone else’s home and that guy ended up with a broken window, people are just getting fed up with it in town.”
“If you just Google it, you’ll see that just about every town in the United States has an ordinance regarding this issue”, says Santa Maria City Senior Code Compliance Officer Esequiel Moreno who says its an economic reality in Santa Maria’s tight and increasingly expensive housing market, “they have a space that they are not utilizing, and they feel like they can rent it out to get more money to pay for either their mortgage or their rent.”
Moreno says the City of Santa Maria is taking a proactive approach to the street parking issue by enforcing city ordinances that restrict the number of people living in any residential dwelling.
“Illegal garage conversions, illegal occupancy of garages, illegal occupancy of inhabitable spaces and boarding houses”, Moreno says, “we do get these and we do investigate each and every complaint that we get, we either substantiate it or we don’t find a violation.”
Moreno says most residential neighborhood streets in the city are considered free parking.
“On a public street, the frontage area of your home is actually public property”, Moreno says, “anybody, as long as the vehicle is registered, operable, and does meet certain municipal codes as far as length and weight, they can park in front of your home.”
The City of Santa Maria has closed loopholes in its ordinances that give Santa Maria Police greater authority to crack down on illegal street parking.
But its a complaint driven process.
“Some of the frustration I think comes about through neighborhoods that don’t let us know that there’s a problem”, says Santa Maria Police Sgt. Duane Schneider, “we don’t go through every street on every day, so sometimes there’s problems within a neighborhood that we’re not aware of, when people call us and make us aware that there is a problem, we respond to that.”
David Simmons says its more than just a lack of available parking space on the street in his neighborhood that he’s concerned about.
“When you have multiple families living in the same house they are not paying their fair share of taxes”, Simmons says.
Communities struggling with the same neighborhood street parking issue share a common thread, a lack of affordable housing that includes parking.