The City of Houston’s rules on large vehicles are not clear when it comes to enforcement on street parking and residential neighborhoods, but that could change with a new proposal.
The Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department gave a presentation on updated changes to its parking ordinance on Wednesday to the Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure committee.
In July 2022, a presentation was given to the Regulatory and Neighborhoods Affairs Committee (RNA) to get some enforcement on the issue. The department was able to increase parking fines from $60 to $150 and conduct outreach to trucking associations.
At-Large Council Member Sallie Alcorn, who is also the Vice-Chair of the TTI Committee, said it's been an ongoing issue.
"It's a big problem in a lot of neighborhoods, many of you brought that to me and the committee," she said. "The wheels turn slowly, but 9 months later we're having a committee presentation on what we’re doing to curb this problem."
The proposed changes are:
- A two hour time limit to be placed on large vehicles, not just trailers, with exemptions that would allow more time if the large vehicle or trailer is actively loading or unloading. Other exemptions include if a service is being performed at a business or home, if the area is authorized by the City of Houston, and if it's a short-term rental like a U-Haul which is allowed 72 hours to be parked on the street.
- Large vehicles would be prohibited from parking on the streets from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. The current code only included commercial vehicles that required logos or signage on the front door, but large vehicles would be parked overnight and the Houston Police Department was not able to issue a citation.
- The code would clarify the language of short-term leases to include large vehicles that are currently restricted from parking near residential neighborhoods. The department said HPD would run into instances where large vehicles were parked on the street and it said it was leased by someone, but it was not specified in the ordinance.
Residents’ concerns and recommendations from the Houston Police Department led to the proposed changes for large vehicles.
"There are residential areas that have challenges with large vehicles,” said Maria Irshad, Deputy Director for the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department. "When large vehicles are near a neighborhood, there's safety challenges, line of sight challenges, pedestrian issues – it affects quality of life in neighborhoods."
She said the changes would give HPD more leverage for enforcement.
"They were finding instances where it was a violation, but it wasn't clear in the code that they could cite a large truck for a parking violation," she said.
Doug Smith, a resident who spoke during public comments questioned if HPD could get the job done.
"I'm to see [the truck parking] is in progress," he said. "My concern is, I go to PIP meeting (Positive Interaction Programs by HPD) and I hear all the time about how the police department is understaffed, so I'm concerned about how if a citizen reports a truck in the area – how soon anything is going to happen."
The city is also making changes to its parking meter requirements and veterans parking and more information can be found on the presentation.
Houston City Council is expected to approve the changes this month.