Petaluma Residential Parking—Deja vu…once again

The residential parking issue exploded on Nextdoor yesterday.  It was, as Yogi Berra once said, “…déjà vu all over again.” (See Link Below)

By way of a brief history there was a time when the residential streets were filled with RVs, trailers, boats, cars, etc. to a density in some areas making the streets look like they were encased by walls…

All the Sturm & Drang from that era (Admittedly, I was part of it…some would say the instigator) led to an Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance requiring vehicles to be moved after three days…a distance of three miles.  The purpose was to eliminate using the streets as storage locations.

The Police Department had the task of enforcing the ordinance and the situation did improve because of their efforts.

That was Then…This is Now

In our part of town I suspect that the major part of the current problem is that many people are living here now (renting rooms in homes) having been displaced by the fires the last two years—They are regular people who come and go to work, school, etc. on a daily basis.  This in itself dramatically increases the number of vehicles on the street.

In our local ‘Hood, finding parking at night is a challenge and the loss of a parking space due to boats, RVs, and vehicles being stored on the street–by anyone–needs to be addressed.

According to information from the Police Department on current enforcement of the Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance 

“We can respond to every complaint regarding abandoned vehicles that is submitted by calling the mainline at the PD… 778-4372, Ext. 0. We may not get out there immediately, as we have one Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Officer that works 4 days a week. He is responsible for all of these complaints throughout the City of Petaluma.”

“Every time our AVA officer tows a vehicle, it can take up to an hour per vehicle, as he is required to stay with the vehicle until the tow truck driver leaves. He can barely keep up with the complaints that come in. When a vehicle is tagged, he needs to go back after 72 hours to check for compliance. Every time there is a tow required, that cuts into his follow-up time. As there is a never ending list of vehicles to follow up on, it leaves no time to be proactive. We would love to have more staff dedicated to abandoned vehicle abatement, but the current budget does not allow that.”



There is no question that the City has budget limitations and constraints.  That has been the case for quite some time and we have to accept that reality.  However, I sometimes wonder if there is not a little “bureaucratic passive aggression” at play also.  It would only be natural.

  • Working with what we do have, I suggest better communication to the public about what the parking laws are and highlighting this on the City Web Page and Police Web Page.  Make it clear how and where to report parking issues. Remember, not everyone knows that there is such a thing as the Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance. Put it on the front page!!
  • Make use of the other police staff. Too many times I have seen units, not on call, repeatedly drive (in one case walk) by vehicles parked in front of fire hydrants or on intersection corners.
  • City Council–Is it time to review the ordinance? Toughen up the penalties?  Repeat offenders get immediate ticket and towed immediately? As it is now, people are just moving them around and taking up parking space elsewhere. I leave it to your lawyers.


Density in our neighborhoods is inevitable. It is happening everywhere, especially neighborhoods that are more affordable. It won’t get better.

  • We are going to have to accept the reality of not being able to  regularly park in front of our own home.
  • Increased vehicle density often presents challenges in setting out the cans for the weekly pick-up. In our case we are able to use part of the driveway to set them out if there is a vehicle parked there. Perhaps Recology has some suggestions on where to place the containers.
  • Be sure to report Abandoned Vehicles to the Police Department…and keep reporting.


From Nextdoor Using Your Street to Park Trailers




3 thoughts on “Petaluma Residential Parking—Deja vu…once again

  1. I can imagine this would be a huge problem. City of Rancho Cordova is working on a change in the ordinance to even park on the property. It costs a bundle to rent RV storage. We don’t have room in our driveway so we must park it in a storage yard. We still see a few RVs parked and hooked up to electrical on streets in our neighborhood, but Code Enforcement is out and about every week!

  2. Yes, indeed! People do get worked up over the issue…I hope that nobody losses their cool in confrontations!!!

  3. Pingback: April Fools’ Day Report: “Parking On The Streets of Petaluma” | THE PETALUMA SPECTATOR PHOTO BLOG

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