Fullerton Overnight Parking Bans Up for Debate

Spencer Custodio/Voice of OC

Apartment residents in Fullerton's Citrus neighborhood have city permission to park overnight on streets.

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Parking in her neighborhood was arduous — at best — until Leah McCallaugh went before the Fullerton City Council, delivered an emotional plea to end overnight parking restrictions and tearfully waved at least a half dozen parking tickets.

“All these are tickets from where I live. I work hard. I’m a taxpayer. I have every right to park on the streets I live on,” McCallaugh told the council through her tears. “I find it very disrespectful that no one will take consideration and look at our situation.”

McCallaugh and her parking tickets highlighted an issue faced by many in apartment neighborhoods across the southern half of Fullerton.

The city council has been addressing the problem in a series of patchwork fixes since Oct. 18 when McCallaugh and her Citrus Avenue neighbors raised the issue.

But Tuesday the council will kick off a citywide discussion on how to best tackle the city’s shortage of overnight parking spaces.

It’s an issue that bedevils cities from La Habra to Lake Forest, with Anaheim, Stanton, Orange and others also wrestling to find a solution.

Fullerton’s current ordinance forbids parking on all streets from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. The restriction has forced many apartment residents either to wake up and move their cars in the early hours or face parking citations.

Shortly after the October meeting, the Public Works Department and the Police Department worked together to give the Citrus neighborhood temporary exemptions from the parking ordinance, Director of Public Works Don Hoppe said Friday.

The city council voted unanimously March 7 to exempt the apartments on Citrus Avenue and portions of two intersecting streets from the parking restrictions. The affected area of Citrus Avenue is south of Orangethorpe Avenue and west of Euclid Avenue.

“I think we do need to look at this … on a much larger scale … this really is a band-aid,” Councilman Greg Sebourn said at the meeting.

While the council is considering a citywide solution, it’s scheduled to create more piecework exemptions.

On Tuesday, after the citywide parking discussion, the council will decide whether to exempt a Valencia Drive apartment neighborhood from the rule.

Like the Anaheim parking battle that recently flared, Fullerton’s parking situation is also pitting homeowners and home renters against apartment residents.

Chairwoman Elizabeth Hansburg of the Transportation and Circulation Committee (TCC) told the council at the March 7 meeting the majority of the homeowners surveyed in the Citrus area were opposed to removing the overnight parking restriction.

“It’s two compelling groups of people with compelling stories,” Hansburg said. “People have it in their head, that if it’s in front of their house, that they own that space …(but) it’s a public street — anybody can park there.”

According to the Transportation Committee’s Jan. 16 minutes, 36 questionnaires were sent to homeowners in the Citrus neighborhood and a majority of them are against ending the parking restriction.

At their January special meeting, the Transportation Committee wanted to investigate garages at the apartments to make sure they weren’t being used for storage.

But Hoppe advised them the city needed to move as quickly as possible to provide 82 additional parking spaces for apartment residents and an inspection of apartment garages may yield just a minimal number not in compliance, according to the minutes.

The city enacted a law in 2005 that prohibits the use of apartment garages for storage, according to the March 21 agenda packet.

When the apartments were built during the height of residential construction in Fullerton in the 1960s and ‘70s, parking requirements were typically one space per one-bedroom unit and two spaces for two bedrooms and more.

 There wasn’t strong opposition to changing the parking rule at the March 7 meeting. One homeowner expressed concerns about ending the overnight restriction. Apartment residents told the council how the parking rule was burdensome.

Citrus resident Janet Barreto said shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, apartment residents were allowed to park in local businesses’ parking lots, but it abruptly changed after many people failed to move their cars by morning.

“Many people had travel plans to go see their families,” Barreto said. “They didn’t have the money to take out their cars (out of impound).”

While Barreto said she understands the homeowner’s concerns, “I think, as a community, we should be able to work together … we can come together and meet halfway.”

Homeowner Lucy Methot said she also understands the apartment residents’ problems and explained how a nearby car dealership took advantage of the parking exemption.

Methot said the dealership parked its cars in lines along the streets after signs were posted said the neighborhood was exempt from the overnight parking rules.

“It is a problem for the city. I understand that people need a place to live and park their cars,” Methot said. “I know it’s not our property, but it is kind of nice to come home and pull up to your place.”

Another apartment resident said he too understands the homeowners concerns, but at the same time contended it isn’t fair that apartment residents are without parking spaces.

“I want you guys to understand our position. We work hard every single day,” Alfonso Covarrabias told the council, adding he and his neighbors barely had money to take care of their families, let alone pay impound fees.

“For me to stand here is very emotional,” Covarrabias said through tears. “I think it’s not fair to have no parking space to park your car.”

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. He can be reached at spencercustodio@gmail.com.

  • I see this as another form of elitism. Many homeowners seem to be of the mindset that they own the property from the middle of the street in front of their property to the rear boundary. How dare those, (less than human) apartment dwellers park in my property. At the same time why should neighborhood street parking be dominated by people with a 2 bedroom apartment and 4 or 6 vehicles, (room mates). At the same time many homeowners also purchase homes they cannot afford and resort to renting rooms, (or convert garages) and then there is more parking needed. Are parking permits the answer? imagine as a homeowner, (or apartment dweller) family comes to visit for a holiday, should they be told, “Don’t bring a vehicle”? Or perhaps a temp permit be issued? I do not like the idea of having to pay to park on public property, registration fees are already costly adding parking fees for home, (and possibly work also) is not right… but I fear that parking permits, (along with resident density limits, meaning enforcing 1 car per bedroom) may be the logical answer. (I will not go into my usual rant about the total absurdity of real estate prices in So CA)

    • LFOldTimer

      Chances are the politicians who enact these high-brow elitism laws all own homes, Dweeze. Now they think they own the streets too! lol.

      I bet you could count on one hand the number of OC council members in the 34 cities who are apartment dwellers and still have some fingers left over.

      Anybody who purchased a home in the last couple years is going to get hosed when the bottom falls out though. It’s coming.

      It’ll make 2008 look like a cake walk.

      Apartment dwellers be patient, My guess that you’ll be able to buy a home at a huge discount in a few years. Then you can own the street too!!! 🙂

      • Agreed, the bottom NEEDS to fall out. there is no rational reason that a house built in 1947, that sold for ±$35,000 with no improvements should now sell for $500,000 or more. A house is no longer a home, it is an investment, which should land a homeowner $100,000 profit when sold. (In the 1970’s I learned that when a salesperson uses the term “investment, time to walk away) I believe it is called greed. I can still recall when parents left a home to their children and then to the childrens children, but now few will own homes for more than a few years, (about the time the “creative” mortgage jumps to an un-affordable amount). Then children living in the homes must uproot move away from friends to go to another neighborhood, (for maybe 5 years).

        • LFOldTimer

          Someone who makes an average wage should be able to buy a home. That’s the way it used to be. Today you have to earn in the top 5% to even think about buying a very average home in OC. The entire system is totally *#^$* up. From top to bottom.

          They’ve taken a beautiful thing and turned it into dog squeeze.

          I feel very sorry for the kids.

          Our parents passed a golden baton off to us in the relay race of life.

          All we pass off to our kids is a ton of debt and false hope.

          Sad. Very sad.

  • LFOldTimer.. you must live in an apartment or condo and not have to deal with the rapidly escalating parking challenges in the single-family home neighborhoods. You are correct, most neighborhood streets are public streets, but here in Santa Ana, many neighborhood residents have opted for permitted-only parking on their block. Then the street becomes not-so-public. It costs money and it can be a hassle, but it is a solution to curtail the wild-west parking that has descended on our streets.

    • LFOldTimer

      Your assumption is incorrect.

      You see, I don’t just root for the home team when it benefits me.

      I actually analyze these blogs and my comments are formed based on what is right, just and moral. Not what floats my personal boat. I’m no politician.

      Santa Ana should enforce it’s garage ordinance so people don’t use their garages to store stuff or to use as a living space, as opposed to parking their cars.

      And it would help if SA didn’t have 10 people living to a home. Duh?

      But that’s what happens it declares itself as a ‘sanctuary city’.

      The first rule when you find yourself in a hole is DON’T DIG DEEPER!!!!

      This isn’t rocket science.

  • LFOldTimer

    “It’s two compelling groups of people with compelling stories,” Hansburg said. “People have it in their head, that if it’s in front of their house, that they own that space …(but) it’s a public street — anybody
    can park there.”

    I’ve been saying this for years.

    Most everyone pays taxes to maintain those streets. Home ownership does not entitle the owner to special access or privileges to the street in front of his home. It should be challenged in court. And it should be unconstitutional.

    Of course the problem is that the cities are building more residences (homes and apartments) and packing the people in like sardines without a second thought about the unintended consequences. Like overcrowded Santa Ana declaring itself a ‘sanctuary city’. ha. How utterly stupid was that with rent prices already sky-high and housing at a premium? ha. But stupid is as stupid does.

    Clean the junk out of your darn garages or stop using your garages as living spaces (which is a violation of most city ordinances)!!! Start there and maybe you would have room to park TWO cars inside and TWO in your driveway! Duh? If you have more that FOUR cars you should be required to build your own parking lot on your own property.

    If you want the street considered as part of your home I want to use your kitchen to cook my dinner!

    Stop being so darn selfish!