Second Street sign has councilors concerned

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Belen city officials may remove a sign along Second Street restricting street parking to "residents only."

In order to enforce the restrictions outlined by the sign, the city would need to pass such regulations through an ordinance, said Councilor Jerah Cordova at a recent city council meeting.

Since there is no such ordinance in existence, the city cannot enforce these restrictions, stated a Sept. 18 letter to City Manager Mary Lucy Baca from Cordova.

The sign is a point of concern for some Second Street residents who approached the council about the city's authority to enforce the restrictions at a previous city council meeting.

Councilor David Carter said the council needs to be careful how they perceive this situation, since the enforcement of this sign is a dispute amongst neighbors from the same block.

Officials can either approve an ordinance enforcing the parking restrictions set forth by the sign or remove the sign.

But approval of an ordinance enforcing the sign would need to be based on the public's best interest, which could be difficult in this case, said Steven Tomita, the city of Belen's director of planning and zoning.

"You're privatizing streets, and if you privatize streets those residents have to maintain those streets," Tomita said.

Restrictions are placed in special use zones, such as handicapped, loading, fire and police.

"Even though there are some capabilities to restrict it, you can't place unreasonable restrictions on the use of public right of way," Tomita said.

Mayor Rudy Jaramillo agreed.

"How can you keep the public from walking on public sidewalks or driving on public roads or parking on a public parking lot?" Jaramillo asked.

The city is mandated by ordinance to provide off-street parking for homes through driveways, which then leaves street-side parking for visitors.

When Jaramillo asked for the definition of the word resident used on the sign, Cordova said the word's explanation would be detailed in an ordinance.

"Are we identifying residents of the city of Belen, just the residents of that neighborhood or what residents are we talking about?," Jaramillo asked. "I mean, I'm a resident of the city and you're telling me that I can't go over there and park, because I don't live there?"

"I'm of the person to say that I think we as a city can't go over there and tell (for example) Councilor Carter, 'I'm sorry. You can't park in front of my house.' That sidewalk belongs to the city. It doesn't belong to me."

If the city granted enforcement of this sign, other homes throughout the city would need to be provided the same privilege, Jaramillo said.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.