MAURICE, La. — An old ordinance prohibiting parking on the street in the town of Maurice is being enforced once again as of Monday.
According to police chief Guy Nerren, this comes after a recent crash involving a school bus and a parked car in the Picard Farms subdivision, along with increased growth in the area leading to the re-designation of Maurice being a town instead of a village.
Johnny Hebert and his family live have called that very subdivision home for the last three years. With three large vehicles of his own, he says he and his wife made sure to ask about parking in the neighborhood prior to buying their home. According to the Heberts, they were told by the developer at that time that if their driveway was full, they could park on the street.
Now authorities say that will not be the case. Last month, Nerren started sending out letters to Maurice residents announcing a reinforcement of a law that would put a stop to street parking in the name of safety and clearance for emergency vehicles.
"It was never an issue, and now all of a sudden it's an issue and it's just kind of blindsided a lot of people," Hebert, a former volunteer firefighter, tells KATC. "I'm doing what I can as far as getting off the road, but I mean I'm still hanging over the road and they could still probably ticket me for that, I don't know how much they're going to push this, but it just sucks honestly."
Meanwhile, some in nearby neighborhoods have different ideas.
"There's a reason for laws, it's to make everything run smoothly, just follow the laws, it's all you have to do," says Marlene Theriot, wife to former mayor Wayne Theriot and a lifelong resident of the town. "They're just making it convenient for everybody who lives here too, making sure they can get out of their driveways and whatever needs to be done."
Chief Nerren says exemptions, however, will be made on a situational basis, such as temporary street parking for delivery drivers, landscapers, and even moving trucks. However, anyone who remains parked on the street for more than an hour or two will be asked to move their vehicle, and if they fail to do so, they could face a ticket of $100 to $230 or get towed.
While some residents tell KATC they are appreciative of these efforts, others criticize the move, calling it a "money grab."
"We're not head-hunting and it's not about extra money, 'cause we would've started enforcing it immediately, without warning," Nerren says. "The statutes have been on the books forever, we could've just started enforcing it and not warning anybody but we're trying to warn them, we want them to take care of the problem so they don't have to get ticketed."
Nerren tells KATC as a resident of the town himself, he is not asking anyone to do anything he isn't also subjected to.
"When I know my house is going to be overcrowded or if there's a holiday, I try and plan ahead," says the chief. "Maurice Community Care Clinic, their parking lot is about a block from my house. I shuttle them from there, they park there 'cause they closed, and I shuttle them from there so I mean I go through it in my own subdivision."
Hebert says he's now being told to park his vehicles in his yard when his driveway is full. Still, he feels like this isn't an adequate solution.
"If I park my trucks in the grass, I've got to worry about the HOA fining us," he says. "So it really is an iffy situation, if we have company or something, we really have nowhere for them to park."
For Nerren, he says it's simple: the law is the law.
"I'm just doing what I'm elected to do," Nerren says. "You've got people worrying about the HOA, but they're breaking state law. If everybody would just kind of participate and see where this thing goes, I think it's going to be less of a problem than what they think it is, just everybody's scared of change."
The chief says he's actively working with the town council to brainstorm better solutions for residential parking, specifically when it comes to new subdivisions and builds. For those already standing, he says it's a stickier situation.
"I'd be willing to explore making a parking lane on one side of the road in these subdivisions, but then you run into people having to give up so many feet of property," the chief tells KATC. "In these newer neighborhoods, say you have 200 lots to build on, I'd like to see if 199 of those could be used for homes, and perhaps that 200th one could become, you know, a parking lot. It's something to think about for sure."
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
To reach the newsroom or report a typo/correction, click HERE.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Evening News Headlines, Latest COVID-19 Headlines, Morning News Headlines, Special Offers