Wednesday, July 10

Orange Park Wants to Limit Cars in Driveways?

car in orange park driveway
When I was driving around Jacksonville to find a place to live, I always crossed off the neighborhoods with several cars parked in the front lawn. In my mind, front lawns are not made for parking cars in a civilized society. But Orange Park, at least according to the news, wants to pass a law that kicks cars out of front lawns AND driveways. That would be going a bit too far, especially around here. That said, there should be some accepted rules about parking cars that should help property values, though I don't see much hope in enforcing most of the rules, even in hoods with an HOA.

Most of our homes have two places associated with them that are made for cars: garages and driveways. I have noticed that around 50% of Jacksonville garages double as living rooms, workout rooms, or shops. Of course, you can't park a car in your living room, so that leaves the driveway. Since driveways are made for cars, it seems that those are the best alternative left for most folks in the area. Moving the cars into back yards in order to keep driveways clear seems a bit odd, actually. If that's what we wanted around here, then we'd build alleys, but we don't.

Lawns, front or back, are not really made for cars. I have enough land on the side of my house that I could add a driveway there, and I may someday. However, maybe only 10% of the homes in my neighborhood have this option, and it's expensive. And it would still result in visible cars, unless I also added a garage. Expensive stuff. 

So let's establish that garages and driveways (front, side, or back) are A-OK for vehicles. In a more rural setting, gravel could be the material, but grass is pretty po-dunk and a driveway. Broken-down cars is also pretty bad, but that's kind of hard to prove. RVs are big and ugly, but if they fit, they fit.

Then what's NOT OK? Here's my list. Yours may vary. I'm thinking about intended use, property values, and safety.

1. Cars parked over sidewalks in driveways
Cars that extend over the sidewalks (if there are sidewalks) are a hazard. It makes me sad in my own neighborhood whenever I see them, and they probably break the law...remember all those ADA sidewalk ramps we now have in Jacksonville?

2. Cars parked on front lawns
There are very few curb appeal choices that are worse than a Cutlas Supreme rusting next to someone's front door. I do like me some sidewalks, but I can see why my HOA chose to enforce the no-front-lawn-parking rules over the sidewalk-blocking one. I literally never shopped for houses in any neighborhood where I saw a car in the front lawn.

3. Cars parked in back yards
This seems to be what Orange Park is going for, but it really opens the community up to people being allowed to have junk yards in the back and unused driveways in the front. Property values might be better, but you've got some safety issues, as well as lots of oil draining right into yards that will be mostly dead. And the kids are supposed to play on the driveway, then?

4. Cars parked on streets
Actually, if we built slightly wider streets around here, I wouldn't mind. But that's not the case, and there's mail and garbage pickup. Again, if we don't want alleys, then larger driveways and wider streets should be the solution, but then you can't pack as many homes into a PUD. Most streets around me can only really accommodate parking on one side, and it's pretty dangerous when there's a party and it's parked full. My recommendation would be overnight parking restrictions on streets, allowing people to get passes. Make a little money and get a few cars off the streets. Anyhow, my neighbor, who probably isn't unusual in Jacksonville, has a two-car garage. He owns three cars, but uses the garage as storage, so he parked his project car on the street for six months. That's not my favorite solution, but if the city got $100 or $200 a month for his privilege, then I'd sign off on it.

You can see from the aerial of my own neighborhood that two cars parked on one side of the street isn't a big deal. The blue circles represent mail boxes, where you generally cannot park. Once people return from work in the evening, however, the street often looks more like the following image:

The driving lane is only wide enough for one car to pass. Cars are over the sidewalk, which puts kids into the street in order to get around, and it's generally unsafe and unsightly.

In my neighborhood, there actually would be a solution, but it's not going to be free, so it probably won't happen. What I would do is take the grass between the sidewalk and street (in some areas along the street) and pave the section as dedicated parking. It effectively makes the street wide enough to allow parked cars and traffic flow. Less cars over the sidewalk and more visibility of pedestrians, who can maybe use the sidewalks more. The following image has the same number of cars as the one above:
Sure, there are some cable or phone boxes to relocate or protect. And you normally only see this kind of thought going into parking in revitalized downtowns, but it really is the auto-centered world we live in. The grass between the sidewalk and road does not serve a real purpose where I live (unlike in Milwaukee, where we always had city-owned trees there). I assume we either have more cars, less garage-use, or bigger families than those who built the homes in my neighborhood 20 years ago, so they did not consider the need for safer parking options. Even those roll-out basketball hoops are safer in the scenario presented here. However, I'm no engineer, so I don't know how you pitch the concrete around existing driveways or if there's going to be runoff issues. 

I realize my solution doesn't help Orange Park residents with giant RVs and old Buicks sitting in their driveways, but it's probably something for Jacksonville to consider in order to meet the letter of the law for those ADA sidewalks, and prevent some fender benders and pedestrian accidents in neighborhoods.

Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
McNewsy - Creative Writing
Educabana - Educational Resources
Brave New Church - Church Website Design
Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

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