America has a love affair with cars. In “Carfield,” what Greenfield has become, that relationship is a love-hate one. Fortunately, the Police Department has informed residents that it will be enforcing parking regulations. It’s about time; years of neglect have turned Greenfield into the ugly duckling of South County.
According to the police department notice sent, “Municipal codes are local laws enacted to provide for the health, safety and beautification of the community.” Five parking regulations were cited; all I have seen violated throughout Greenfield.
Regulation 1) Parking on Unpaved Surfaces concerns places people aren’t allowed to park, like front lawns. Nonetheless, lawns act as show rooms for new, old and inoperable vehicles. Big trucks take up entire lawns. Vehicles parked against front house windows or blocking door entrances pose a health and safety issue. If a fire were to start, how could residents, firefighters and paramedics get through the blockade of vehicles?
Regulation 2) Inoperable/Unregistered Vehicles, Trailers and Vessels isn’t hard to spot. These vehicles are rusty, have flat tires, have been in accidents and/or are partially covered. Clearly, nothing is aesthetically pleasing about them. They, too, pose a safety hazard when they block home entrances.
Regulation 3) Parking on Street deals with time limitations and much more. Vehicles aren’t supposed to be left on the streets “for more than a consecutive period of 72 hours.” In my neighborhood, even new vehicles are “abandoned.” Who would want to leave a new car on the street, not in a garage or driveway? Then as mysteriously as a new vehicle appears, it disappears. Another strange situation involves vehicles that serve as storage facilities. Abandoned trucks, vans and trailers are parked along empty lots, which serve as junk yards for all who want to leave their unwanted items inside these vehicles — mattresses, rusty appliances, tires.
Regulation 4) Commercial Vehicle Parking, I haven’t seen lately. But years ago I had a neighbor who would leave his rigs parked on our streets. My rig-driving neighbor once asked if he could rent part of my driveway. I didn’t rent or allow him to park in my driveway. I still don’t understand why a family of four, two not old enough to drive, would need more than the seven parking spaces they already had: two in the garage, two in the driveway, three in front of their house and the multiple streets used to park the rigs.
Regulation 5) RV Stored in Public View doesn’t seem to be a problem in my neighborhood. However, I’ve seen violations in the newer neighborhoods. Few RVs are “screened by [a] solid six-foot tall fence, wall and or landscape barrier.” Instead, these monster vehicles park in tiny, narrow streets, blocking the view of cars trying to drive through, thus causing a safety hazard.
Why are there so many parking regulation violations in Greenfield?
One reason is neglect. When regulations aren’t enforced, even law-abiding residents question following the law when so many violate it and nothing seems to happen. Some get tired of reporting the violations. Others suffer from amnesia, forgetting what the laws are after years of their not being enforced. Some new to town simply don’t know that Greenfield does have parking regulations.
Another reason is a matter of priorities. Greenfield doesn’t have a full-time code enforcer. However, the problem goes deeper than hiring a full-time enforcer.
The most important reason is lack of vision. How does Greenfield view itself? Who are we, and what do we want to become as a town? How do we want others — visitors, investors or out-of-town employees — to see us? For too long, the leadership of this town has led us to believe that more cannot be expected of its residents. The belief is that certain people are incapable of understanding the laws and abiding by them. This “pobrecito” mentality disempowers the poor who, like the rich, want and deserve clean, safe neighborhoods and cities.
What is to be done? Is it possible for Greenfield to transform from ugly duckling to beautiful swan of South County? Yes, but we cannot wait for the police department to hire a full-time code enforcer. For enforcement of the laws shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of one individual. A new Chief of Police, like the one who is leaving, needs to continue being involved in the community, re-educating it, providing community forums. Dedicated officers need to continue doing the tedious task (though much appreciated) of giving parking citations. Residents need to respect the laws and lend support to the police department responsible for enforcing them. And our new mayor needs to lead the charge, making good on his campaign promise to clean up our town. Working together, the transformation is possible.