Residents get ticketed for alley parking

January 27, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

For most of the last 32 years, James W. Anderson and his trash trucks have had the alleys of Knettishall and Loch Raven Village pretty much to themselves in the early morning hours.

But not any more.

Today, residents of the 40-year-old rowhouse communities east of Towson have more cars than ever and no room to park them all on the street. "So they park in the alley," Mr. Anderson said.

The results are alleys repeatedly choked by parked cars, preventing trash haulers from getting through.

"It's getting to be a real pain in the neck for me and my men," Mr. Anderson said. Not to mention more than $4,000 in damage claims from residents who say his trucks have ripped off their auto mirrors, crunched their walls or crushed their bushes over the past three years.

It's also a danger to life and property, because where trash trucks can't go, neither can fire trucks.

Now, after months of community meetings, fliers, newsletters, police warnings and other attempts to "educate" residents about the problem, county police have begun to slip $34 parking tickets under the wipers of offending automobiles in the two communities.

"Now we've gotten into the enforcement mode," said Capt. Roger L. Sheets, of the Towson Precinct. Thirty to 40 such tickets have been written in the last two weeks, and "it has heightened awareness of the problem."

Many residents whose awareness has been "heightened" are expected to show up at 7:30 tonight at Pleasant Plains School to discuss the problem with representatives from their community associations, county police, fire and sanitation departments and County Councilman Douglas B. Riley's office.

"I think there are going to be a lot of people there who've gotten tickets who are very angry," said Dale E. Livingston, president of the Knettishall Community Association. "I hope this meeting will be positive and come up with solutions so the majority of people will be happy."

The root of the problem is narrow alleys, averaging just 16 feet, Mrs. Livingston said. A county ordinance passed in 1989 required that residents leave a 12-foot clearance for emergency vehicles.

"Nothing can park there except maybe a bicycle and leave 12 feet of clearance," she said. But residents park there anyway. They have few alternatives without paving part of their back yards or perhaps parking a block or more away.

So when the trash trucks rumble up the alleys, Mr. Anderson said, his men are frequently forced to walk ahead and move all the garbage cans to one side to make more room. Or they blow their horns hoping someone will come out to move the cars. Or, the drivers will back out and try again from the other end of the alley, or simply skip the block that day.

In some neighborhoods, such as parts of Hillendale, trash collections have been shifted to the street, an eventuality Knettishall and Loch Raven Village hope to avoid for aesthetic reasons.

In other areas, including one particularly troublesome section of Knettishall, the county has posted signs in the alley banning morning parking on trash collection days.

That has helped, county sanitation chief Charles K. Weiss said, but "traffic engineering doesn't want to post every alley."

Besides, said Captain Sheets, trash day parking bans don't ensure that fire trucks can negotiate the alleys at other times.

"We have to maintain access to those alleys for emergency vehicles," he said.

"You don't want a tragedy to heighten peoples' awareness. We're going to have to work together on it."

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