Diligence Pays Off in Battle Over Illegal Truck Parking | WESTCHASE DISTRICT

Overstaying the limit: Ofc. D. Nguyen issues a ticket to an illegally parked box truck on Meadowglen Lane.

HPD officers working for the Westchase District Patrol routinely ticket and tow trucks and automobiles illegally parked throughout the District. Their efforts are part of an ongoing effort to improve safety and mobility. “Motorist visibility is so limited when these giant vehicles park on our narrow residential streets,” said Mark Hubenak, Westchase District’s vice president of public safety.

It is a parking violation for 18-wheel vehicles to park for more than two hours on a city street. The smaller box trucks cannot park for more than 24 hours. HPD officers routinely drive these streets, make note of parked trucks (time and date), then return to issue parking citations. If the illegally parked truck is not moved promptly, it can be ticketed. After receiving two tickets, it can be towed.

Fines range from $30 to $750 depending on the violations. And if the vehicle is towed, it can cost thousands to have it released from impound.

The officers’ efforts have been focused on Walnut Bend Lane, Elmside Drive, Seagler Road, Meadowglen Lane, Hayes Road, Westcenter Drive and Woodland Park Drive. But the officers go where the trucks go. “It’s like a game of ‘whack-a-mole,’” said Hubenak. “Once we enforce the law on one street, the trucks simply move to another.”

Owners/tenants appreciate the effort

EHRA Engineering’s President and CEO Jim Russ sees first-hand the problems caused by illegal truck parking. His engineering firm has offices at 10011 Meadowglen, immediately across the street from the Houston Marriott Westchase and adjacent to where so many trucks park illegally every day.

“It creates a vision impairment for our team members as they come and go from the building,” said Russ. “We all have to ‘inch out’ to look beyond the 18-wheelers to see any oncoming traffic as we depart our parking garage.”

“Meadowglen is a wide street. There is a curve immediately west of our office. And cars frequently use it as a raceway. When trucks park there, it makes it even more dangerous,” said Russ. “Every day I see the trucks pulling up to park there. The drivers have someone meet them and take them home, leaving their vehicle parked here. I appreciate the fact that the Westchase District Patrol has made this a priority and is working to address the problem.”

City Council Attention

District F City Council Member Tiffany Thomas hears plenty about the issue from her constituents. She brought the issue to the attention of Council Member Sallie Alcorn who chairs the Regulation and Neighborhood Affairs Committee, which has discussed possible solutions.

Thomas says they’ve looked at everything from increasing the fines to bringing in more tow trucks capable of moving the 18-wheelers.

“We added an overnight shift to the Park Houston staff, putting eight team members and a supervisor on the shift to enforce parking ordinances,” said Thomas. “Unfortunately, many of the truck drivers know the clock starts over if they move their vehicle, so they’ll avoid getting a ticket by moving their truck even a few inches.”

Goodbye: After receiving two tickets, the vehicle is towed to the City’s impound lot.

Thomas describes the effort to solve the problem as a “work in progress.” She encourages citizens to report illegally parked vehicles to the City’s 3-1-1 number. “That’s how we track stats,” she said. Thomas credits Westchase District residents with reporting violators. “We can escalate the situation when we have lots of reports of illegally parked trucks,” said Thomas. She says the neighborhood around Sneed Elementary School has been a particular focus for enforcement recently. After receiving reports from the neighborhood, the situation was escalated by HPD and more than 300 citations have been issued recently in that area.

Keep current on Westchase District news with The Wire, sent twice monthly.