City preparing to sweep sidewalks of cars

rpulley@lsjournal.comAugust 19, 2016 

These cars blocking the sidewalk violate Lee’s Summit ordinances. The path should stay clear to allow pedestrians or cyclists to pass without going into the street.

RUSS PULLEY — rpulley@lsjournal.com

Lee’s Summit could soon crack down on drivers who park their cars and block sidewalks that cross driveways.

All over town, joggers, cyclists and pedestrians encounter the occasional driveway overflowing with cars.

The police department won’t be hunting for violators, said Eric Vaughan, chairman of the Lee’s Summit Livable Streets Advisory Board, which met Tuesday. But in the future, officials plan to issue warnings to drivers whose vehicles are impeding the use of sidewalks.

The board decided to support reworking ordinances to make enforcement possible. The proposal will be taken to city council for approval.

The police intent is to contact owners on a complaint basis to educate residents, he said. Only if an owner is stubborn and refuses to cooperate will they issue tickets.

“This is something they’ll give warnings for long before they enforce,” Vaughan said.

Vaughn said he’d met with the city prosecutor and staff who discussed rewording of the city ordinance to make it enforceable, although technically the ordinance now forbids blocking sidewalks.

Staff wanted support or comments from the advisory board, whose members are appointed by the mayor and council. The board’s purpose is to promote safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. and encourage active lifestyles for better health.

Vaughan said the intention is mostly to protect people with disabilities, who shouldn’t leave the sidewalk, swerving into grass or the street to go around the vehicles. “When I’m running, even if it’s a pain and a little dangerous, I can do that route,” he said.

The only discussion was how much of a vehicle could protrude over the line.

“Is it 3 inches or 3 feet?” asked Greg Hunsucker, a board member.

Vaughan said the ordinance as it’s being rewritten wouldn’t allow any encroachment, but that officers would have discretion on whether to act. If it’s slightly over the line, he didn’t expect an officer to write a ticket.

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