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The Common Law

There goes the neighborhood – Can they park cars like that?

By Luke Ellis, Fri., Nov. 16, 2007

This week's "Common Law" column answers questions about what neighbors can and can't do when parking in residential Austin neighborhoods.

My neighbor parks his huge motor home on the street in front of his house for several months each year. It drives me nuts because it takes up space on the road and cuts down visibility. Can he do this?

No. It sounds like your neighbor uses the public neighborhood street as his long-term parking option for the motor home when it's not in use. According to Austin city ordinance 12-5-11, a motor home should not be parked on a public street for longer than 72 hours. Specifically, the ordinance states "a person may not park a self-propelled motor home or other motor vehicle containing a permanently installed sleeping facility or human sanitary treatment or disposal facility on a public street or alley for longer than 72 continuous hours."

My neighbor likes to drive up the side part of his yard and park along the side of his house. I hate looking out my bedroom window right at his car between our houses. Is he allowed to do that?

It depends. As a general rule, Austin city ordinance 12-5-29 says that a person cannot park a car in the "front or side yard of a residential property, except in a driveway or a paved parking space." There are some exceptions to this ordinance, so to learn more, go to the city of Austin website (www.ci.austin.tx.us) and look up ordinance 12-5-29.

A guy on my street drives a big commercial truck. He sometimes parks it in front of his house when he's home for a few days. Is that allowed?

It depends on the truck and street. As a general rule, your neighbor cannot park a vehicle with a gross weight greater than 9,000 pounds on a public street with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less.

Contact Austin's nonemergency line (311) if you want to report these or other potential violations of Austin city ordinances.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Johns, Marrs, Ellis. & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.

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