Placentia has begun citing and will prosecute those who obstruct public sidewalks under a new city ordinance.
Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the past, cases forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for citations issued under the state law for obstructing sidewalks saw limited prosecutions, leaving over 80 unprosecuted citations, said City Administrator Damien Arrula.
The new ordinance, adopted unanimously by the City Council in early December, will now allow Placentia law enforcement to cite offenders under the municipal code, empowering the city attorney to prosecute violators.
The state law says it’s illegal to block a sidewalk with a vehicle. Placentia’s ordinance makes it a crime to “block the sidewalk for any reason that prevents people from being able to safely pass,” according to a city staff report.
Placentia Police Department staff research found that various Orange County cities have adopted similar regulations which have proven helpful in preventing individuals from blocking sidewalks.
Additionally, unobstructed sidewalks are necessary to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and increase pedestrian safety, according to city staff.
“I think this is key right now because there are some sidewalks being blocked,” said Mayor Rhonda Shader, adding that it will help the police to continue to enforce the law.