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Parking on grass discourse continues

For more than two years Mission City Council has debated a no parking on grass ordinance — and after the May 8 city council meeting, the discussion continues with the order still on a moratorium. After residents issued complaints both for and against the ordinance, the council still works to find a compromise. 

In March 2021, the mayor and council passed ordinance No. 5001, detailing that residents must park their operating vehicles in the designated driveway area after city staff received excessive complaints from residents. The council determined people could park on the street or add to their driveway to comply. 

But less than a year later, the council suspended the no parking on grass law after the postmaster filed complaints. Because of the ordinance, residents blocked mailboxes when parked on the street and impeded postal workers from their operations. 

Additionally, the ordinance became a financial problem for some. Mission resident Barbara Salinas said she could not afford to add to her driveway unless the city allowed a cheaper option like caliche. But the ordinance did not state what constitutes a driveway, and Councilmember Jessica Ortega had concerns about caliche because grass can grow through. 

“I just want [caliche] to be an option because more of us, especially in my locality, are able to obey the law because we can afford that,” Salinas said at the Feb. 28, 2022 meeting. 

Following a lengthy discussion at the 2022 meeting, the council decided to table the item and put a moratorium on the no parking on grass order. However, the city continued to enforce a separate ordinance prohibiting exposed junk, wrecked or abandoned vehicles. 

On April 3, Mission City Council held a workshop to discuss the parking matter more than a year later. 

Mayor Pro-Tem Ruben Plata suggested requiring two driveways, but that would take away from another city ordinance that requires all residential homes to have 30% of green space to allow for drainage.

Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza had logistical concerns. 

“I feel it’s way too difficult. I don’t think that we have the staff that’s needed to monitor and enforce that, and really it would be targeting the lower income, the older homes that don’t have the room,” the mayor said. “Now your new subdivisions have homeowners associations, they have requirements, so this really targets the older homes.” 

Additionally, Ortega said she received a complaint from a resident who city staff cited for a junk vehicle, but it turned out the resident still used the car and had insurance for it. 

Following discussion at the April 3 workshop, the council decided to rescind the no parking on grass ordinance, once again allowing residents to park their operating vehicles anywhere on their property. But at the May 8 city council meeting, before the council voted on the item, two residents spoke against the rescission. 

Maria Salinas, who spoke in favor of the ordinance at the 2022 meeting, said she was worried about the cars parked on grass reducing the value of homes in her neighborhood. She expressed concern that it makes everyone in the area look “disadvantaged” and “ghetto.” 

Newer Mission resident Richard Bell said he would like the city to consider “keeping [] standards high,” and not rescind the ordinance. 

Following public comment, Ortega motioned to, yet again, table the item and further discuss the issue. The council approved the motion; the mayor and Councilmember Abiel Flores were absent from the meeting.

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