Unfinished Business

HB 503: Parking in Yards

Houston homeowners and law enforcement are often frustrated by enforcement of prohibited yard parking ordinances in Houston. Current law does not allow police to assume the resident of a home in violation of parking in a yard is at fault. Law enforcement must issue a criminal citation face-to-face with the accused instead of leaving the citation on the windshield.

Once again, Rep. Gene Wu proposed legislation to fix this situation, filing House Bill 503 that would have amended the Transportation Code to allow enforcement of yard parking ordinances in the same manner that it enforces parking ordinances in public no-parking zones, including the impoundment of offending vehicles. It would have also allowed law enforcement to enforce these laws as a civil offense, punishable by fine. A civil offense is more proportional to the infraction than a criminal citation, and easier to enforce.

Presently, law enforcement must take valuable time away from pressing criminal matters to enforce the statute. In addition, Section 682 of the Transportation Code only applies to public roadways, not private property. Consequently, yard parking infractions are usually not enforced.

The law would have applied to neighborhoods where a petition was signed by 60% of residents and where the neighborhood made an application for inclusion under the ordinance. This legislation would have provided needed clarity to local police regarding enforcement of law and was a priority for our local constituents.

HB 503 was voted favorably out of the House Urban Affairs Committee and had been set on the House calendar.