The American Falls City Council held a public hearing of a proposed change to the city’s parking ordinance on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The proposed change would ban parking on sections of Harrison and Roosevelt Streets as well as a portion of Fort Hall Avenue between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
While the proposed change is in response to what Mayor Marc Beitia characterized as “numerous” complaints the public hearing brought out business owners in the affected areas.
Jerry Mauch, owner of C & J Power Equipment, said he was concerned about the purpose of the change.
“Normally an ordinance is put into place for one of two reasons. Those two reasons are maintenance or health and safety. I can understand having a seasonal parking law to help with snow removal, but that would be seasonal. Is the city really going to run a street sweeper between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. every night during the summer? There is no real safety reason that cars parked properly cannot be there. I worry there is another personal reason this ordinance is so specific,” Mauch said.
The change will not directly affect parking adjacent to Mauch’s business, but it will have a direct impact on his neighbor, business partners Charles Miser and Mark Cysewski.
“I happen to have a business in the area you are targeting. I have property at that section of Fort Hall and Harrison and I believe this ordinance is bordering on discrimination and I will be checking into that,” said Miser.
Cysewski said the problem of parked cars sitting for extended periods of time is not isolated to his business.
“There are cars three doors down in one direction and two doors down in the other direction of my home that have not moved in years, but I am not calling city hall every day,” said Cysewski.
Cysewski also questioned the intent of the proposed change.
“What is the objective? Do you not want cars downtown? We bring people into this town, but we need parking to create that commerce. I am disappointed we cannot find a solution that doesn’t single out one or two businesses. I hope we can find a solution that does not board up another building,” Cysewski said.
Mauch urged the council to find a different solution.
“I ask that you take a deeper look at this. I see so many other violations by businesses especially if you look up and down Harrison Street. There are seven businesses in American Falls that deal with automotive sales and service and it seems to me any time the city council has an issue with parking those businesses are singled out for restriction. We need to find a solution that does not penalize those businesses for doing business,” said Mauch.
Beitia explained the reasoning behind selecting the sections of city streets mentioned in the ordinance.
“There are two problems that caused us to focus on the chosen areas. Those are the areas that are habitually clogged with cars parked for extended periods. I would be more than happy to have further discussions about this issue, but we cannot allow certain businesses to park their inventory on public sidewalks, which is the second issue we are attempting to address.” said Beitia.
The proposed ordinance changes received the first of three readings required by passage. The remaining two votes will be scheduled for subsequent council meeting prior to a final vote.