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Residents frustrated over parking situation

By Judy Reed

 

Two disgruntled residents brought their complaints about the city’s parking ordinance to the Cedar Springs City Council meeting last Thursday night. And one of them, Beth Karafa, of 108 S. First Street, also called WZZM13 and the Post to tell her side of the story.

“I’m frustrated,” Karafa told the Post. “Are they trying to run people out of town?”

Karafa is frustrated because under the city’s ordinance, she cannot permanently park in the gravel area between her yard and the road, in the city’s right of way. And Officer Nick Barbour, the city’s code enforcer, has paid her several visits and ticketed her on at least two occasions. The ticket last year resulted in a court order saying that she could not allow any vehicle to park on her property unless she installed a driveway.

“I’ve lived here and parked there for 16 years,” she said, pointing to where her fiancé (now deceased) had built steps down to where they parked. Karafa does not have a regular driveway, and says she cannot afford to put one in, being a single mom of two teens. She also has several adult children that often visit.

City Manager Christine Burns explained that they are not asking her to put in a driveway. She said they have given Karafa several other options for parking, but that she has refused to use them. The options included asking for permission to park at the American Legion Hall lot, which is across the street and 33 feet from Karafa’s home; on the street in designated parking spaces just west of her residence and to the south of the Legion; or in front of the house directly across the street from her. Those areas have a curb, and the road is wider there.

Burns noted that other residents also struggle with parking, but make a choice to shuffle cars or park elsewhere. “I don’t know of anyone who has more choices for parking than she does,” said Burns.

Karafa told the Post that she didn’t want to have to park across the street near the Legion. “What if I have groceries or laundry?” she asked.

Burns said that under the ordinance, guests could park in front of Karafa’s home, in the gravel area on Beech, just nothing permanent. She said that if Karafa had laundry or groceries, she could park there to unload and then move her car.

Karafa said that since she received her ticket, she has been parking in a side yard, in what was once a driveway, before she moved in. She has also been warned about that. But Burns said that if she can prove it was a driveway, it could be grandfathered in.

Karafa does have photos of it being used as a driveway before she moved in.

“She should bring those photos to the next court date on her latest ticket,” said Burns.

Burns said that the parking ordinance is not unusual, and that many other cities and villages have the same type of ordinance. She said that the gravel area in front of Karafa’s house was not meant to be for parking. “It should be grass, but it has been eroded from all the years of parking on it,” she explained.

Karafa said she has spoken to her attorney about the issue. She said she has also gotten a lot of positive support from people and there is now a petition on Facebook to change the parking ordinance. She said she hopes to get a group of people to go to the next City Council meeting to voice their concerns and find out what to do to get changes made to the ordinance.

According to Burns, any resident with concerns on parking or other issues can call her at 696-1330 ext. 104, or email her at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org.

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11 Responses to “Residents frustrated over parking situation”

  1. K. Moiles says:

    I don’t live in Cedar Springs, but I do work here. I’ve always thought I would like to live in Cedar: the perfect proximity to Grand Rapids, Greenville, 131, and the north. I have been actually looking at real estate listings lately; with my eye on a couple of nicely priced properties.

    After reading this story, and several others (the city billing the red flannel committee, and back again, the “code enforcement” gone wild stories, etc.), I am no longer in the market. City councils are there to represent the community, not repress. In this article especially, a single parent is being legally harassed by the council and the only defense they offer is basically ‘other cities are doing it’. She is then warned about parking in a side yard! Whether it ever was or was not a driveway should be irrelevant.

    I have no interest in having to debate where I am allowed to park my lawfully owned, licensed, and registered vehicle on my lawfully purchased property. Even more to the point, I would not wish to deal with a city council that is more interested in doing what other cities do, being rigid in thought or action, and/or looking for ways to generate revenue at constituent hardship (although that may not be the case here).

    Post: Please continue, or even increase, your coverage of these kinds of items. This is exactly why our freedom of the press was so voraciously fought for. Likewise, continue to share the good news as well. Our leaders need the reinforcement for deeds done well. Accountability benefits all.

    “The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being” – Thomas Jefferson

  2. Trisha dart says:

    I’m 26 years old and I grew up in cedar. For as long as I can remember there have been steps at that home with parking in front. It’s not hurting any body just let her park there.

  3. AC says:

    I lived in Cedar or around Cedar all my life. Parking like this is or was in front of almost all the houses. Ours had the same thing until we moved.

  4. Joe says:

    KMOILES said it best. the city council is trying flex their muscle because they can. I’d love to see them reconsider and start working for the residents not against. Heavy handed governance is a tyranny.

    I’m the first to admit that I’m not willing to go to the council meetings to debate these topics, but I see not point in it as the members are largely on the side of each other, not the residents. I’d be willing to bet someone a donuts that one of the council members has a neighbor that parks in the street and they don’t like it and that is how this issue was raised.

    c’mon Cedar Springs… get out of your good ol’boys network and just some common sense.

  5. Stephan L says:

    Seems like such a trivial issue for the city council to focus their time on. This Says a lot about this city. When there is nothing to do or discuss, make things up. Every post’er here has a good point.

    we’ll be parking in the street as needed and from time to time. The CC or the local security guards had better not harass my family or guests.

    Get over yourself city council. If there isn’t a lot to cover in the meetings, cancel them. Stop looking for things to control.

  6. Stephan L says:

    By the way, K. Moiles and I think the Post is in the hip pocket of the City Council. They have to be if they want not to be enforced upon.

  7. K. Moiles says:

    Actually, preferring to speak for myself, I have not formed an opinion on which way the bias lies with regards to the post and city council. If I am being called to opine, I would have to say that the post is perhaps as critical of city council, maybe more so, than other papers I do or have read.

    This must be qualified by saying: Although I have read more than a few articles that appear scathing of city council, they are written from a factual point of view. This is the Hallmark of a good paper. The co conclusions should be made by the reader when presented with facts, and the understanding that it mights not be all of them.

    In light of that, I would say the post either is neutral in regard to city council, and maybe doesn’t have many good news to report about them, or there is slight bias against. I do NOT feel there is bias FOR city council. I do understand that I do not have all the facts, but that remains my opinion until maybe I do.

  8. johnny says:

    that is why it will always called CEDARTUCKY it is a joke all thru west michigan city manager christine burns just fans the flames.

  9. Aurthur says:

    the city council is just a place for these council members to go to make rules for the city residents that fit their particular needs or the situation of the council members. If they had smaller driveways or more vehicles in their family then this topic would never come up. Right, Charlie?

  10. Charlie Towns says:

    Arthur,
    You are right in that the final outcome may be that a rule is made that fits their particular situation. I do not believe that is their intent however. Hardly anyone participates in City politics or contributes ideas to the process. So they (the counsel) end up passing ordinances that they think are fine because they only have their judgment to go off of (instead of the communities), because no one else participates or contributes ideas until they are upset with something!!

  11. Charlie Towns says:

    Continued from above:
    I am assuming you are referring to Charlie Watson. Sir I can tell you that in good faith he has done his best to make the community of Cedar Springs better for as long as I can remember. My father was on the Fire Department (volunteer no glory of high pay) with him in the late 80′s to mid 90′s. I remember when dad died he and the other fire fighters led the funeral procession in one of the trucks (meant allot to a 15 year old). Every time I come home I see him doing something else to serve the community. And no none of the things he does draw high pay. He does this out of the goodness of his heart. Yes he may make mistakes, but to say he is only attempting to serve himself is not accurate. He has more character than that.

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