Property owner R. Jean Taylor put down asphalt in an area that had been gravel and dirt, plus paid to have bike lanes painted on to the path along Diablo Road. In addition, to avoid problems with vehicles parking illegally along the roadway, she had "No Parking" painted in several areas of the newly minted asphalt.
Town officials commended the effort to improve the area but said that the asphalt has actually caused new problems as motorists continue to park there illegally. Town Attorney Rob Ewing said cars parked in that spot create a hazard.
"The primary concern the engineers have is that vehicles can and do park there and block the pedestrian path. This can affect children going to school or neighbors coming downtown," he explained.
The town gave notice to Taylor to abate the problem and when she had not done so, Ewing brought the issue to the council.
Councilwoman Karen Stepper asked what work needed to be done, saying, "It's hugely improved over what it used to look like. What are they supposed to do?"
Ewing said staff had outlined three options:
* Remove the asphalt in the town's right of way near the street and replace it with landscaping;
* Cut out tree wells and plant trees to keep vehicles from parking; or
* Place planters along the right of way to discourage parking.
Due to some confusion concerning a permit sought by Taylor and the nuisance ordinance, council members were told that they could approve the initial resolution, which would require the abatements to be completed by Jan. 18, or they could honor the permit Taylor sought with Feb. 15 as the completion date.
Stepper said she supported the Feb. 15 date. "There's no reason that they haven't made the change but with the holidays and the rainy season I can see giving them until Feb. 15," she stated.
Councilman Mike Doyle disagreed. "They're toying with us and I don't believe in that," he said. "We've given them 14 months. I don't think we need to give them another five minutes."
Mayor Newell Arnerich said he tended to agree with Doyle but was willing to give Taylor the grace period she requested. He added, "We gave them a year and two months; they're not listening. On Feb. 15 I expect to see us out there taking action."
Councilwoman Candace Andersen moved for the resolution with the Feb. 15 date, which Stepper seconded. Council members gave it their unanimous approval.
After learning of the Town Council's decision, Taylor expressed her disappointment in how the issue was handled. "This was just a simple encroachment issue which they have made into a nuisance. I don't think that's any way to treat people." She added, "They said I haven't done anything for 13 months, but my attorney Dave Bowie has been talking to Rob Ewing."
Taylor said she applied for a permit to remove four feet of the asphalt along the right of way as a means of answering the town's concerns but she does not feel that is the right thing to do. "I think it's a terrible, terrible mistake. It's the wrong thing to do there."
She said that she has considered the alternatives suggested by the town but feels they would create a maintenance hardship, as planting landscaping or trees would also require getting water out to that area.
Rather than cut holes in the asphalt or remove it, Taylor suggested that the town put up a "No Parking on pavement" sign, which would allow police to ticket cars who park there illegally. Another option would be to install benches for residents using the path. "It would block off cars from parking there, and it wouldn't tear up the asphalt and leave a gaping hole. I could do it, or I could donate $10,000 to the town and let them put in what they want."
Taylor said despite her feelings in regards to how the issue was handled, she does want to work with the town to resolve it. "I just don't know who I can talk to about this," she stated.
This story contains 731 words.
If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.
If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.