Stillwater City Council Strikes Down Amendment to Regulate Yard Parking

This is still allowed in Stillwater.

This is still allowed in Stillwater.

Stillwater will not regulate yard parking after all.

After nearly a year of discussions about a possible ban on yard parking in Stillwater residential neighborhoods, the City Council on a 3-2 vote — Tom Weidner and Mike Polehna dissenting — denied the first reading of the yard parking ordinance amendment, leaving the ordinance as it reads.

Last spring, a resident asked the council to consider regulating the parking of vehicles on unimproved surfaces in the front yard of homes, saying it is a “public nuisance of visual blight,” and reduces property values in Stillwater.

As a result, a survey was conducted and the council directed the Planning Commission to look into drafting regulations for a yard parking ordinance.

During the March 8 council meeting, city staff presented a recommendation from the Planning Commission following a four-month public process that included two commission discussions and public hearings.

Following public testimony and a discussion, the council advised staff to revise the proposal and bring it back for a first reading.

Before voting down the amendment, Council Member Doug Menikheim said he disagrees with “just about everything” the people who spoke in opposition to the yard parking ban said, but he didn’t hear from people who say yard parking is a problem.

“I only hear people who oppose this. I don’t hear people talking on the other side of the issue,” he said. “If we have a problem, where is it? Until, and unless, I hear other voices, I have to be persuaded to just drop this. Maybe this is the best we can do. There is a problem, but we don’t know what that problem is. I think we just need to put this down for now.”

Council Member Tom Weidner pointed to the city’s survey results that states residents were overwhelmingly in favor of banning yard parking, and said he has heard from numerous residents who believe yard parking is an issue.

Weidner suggested adopting the Planning Commission’s recommendation and adding restrictions for RVs and boats longer than 31 feet and limiting the number of vehicles that could be parked on an improved surface in the front and side yard to three.

Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said the proposed amendment would impact too many people in unintended ways — and ultimately didn’t solve the problems the council is trying to address.

“I don’t see this solving any of our problems,” Kozlowski said. “We have to figure out how to address the problem properties.”

Stillwater Yard Parking Amendment

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