Proposed Houston Ordinance to Remove Cars from Lawns

In many Houston neighborhoods, you can find at least one person who parks his car in his front yard, rather than on the street or in the driveway or garage. Many of these people also have more than one vehicle that they do this with. According to KHOU 11 News, there is now a city ordinance being proposed that would make this action illegal.

The ordinance is still being perfected because many people feel they have a right to do whatever they want on their own property. Still others feel that cars on lawns are a sight for sore eyes, so to speak. Many of the people that park cars on their lawns also run a mechanic shop out of their house, so the cars tend to pileup. Still others are just parts and junk collectors who have heaps of car parts or non-working cars in their lawns. Many are saying that acts such as this make their neighborhoods look like a heap of trash.

So far the ordinance proposes that you cannot park your car on a lawn. However, if you place a slab of cement on that same lawn, then it would be okay.

City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado says “There is overwhelming support for this ordinance from my civic associations”. The supporters are claiming that these cars are taking away property values, leaking oils and other fluids into the soil, damaging underground utility lines, and doing damage to the grass and other plants.

Jim Burney, who is a homeowner and resident of the Spring Branch area of Houston says “It looks very ugly and detracts from the beauty of the neighborhood. It ruts up the yard. I think these things destroy residential integrity”.

However, another Spring Branch resident, named Sonia Campos, disagreed with Jim’s point of view, saying “I think a lot of families here would have a hard time with that. Most of the families who live here have small businesses, so they have more vehicles than small cars.” Campos’ husband has a trailer that is sometimes parked outside the home for his furniture business.

A realtor in Houston, named Minnette Boesel, said “People want to be in areas that have a nice street appearance. Your property value could be negatively impacted if people come look at your property and it’s by an ugly sprawling mess”.

Another councilwoman, Toni Lawrence, said that too many parked cars in one yard can hinder the drivers’ view when they turn onto a street.

In this proposed law, only single-family homes and duplexes would be affected. There is still a way to park many vehicles in your yard under this plan, but to adhere, you must install a parking lot or pad on the area of your lawn you will use. The surface must be made of either concrete, asphalt, gravel, or other material. It can also measure up to 275 feet, which is enough to park two cars.

There is also an exception for smaller or older homes that have short driveways or none at all.

Some are saying that by giving homeowners the option to pave part of their yards will only make the problem worse. “Just dumping shell or some stuff – will that be any better than parking in the front yard?” questions Councilman Adrian Garcia.

Jim Birney, the man who said the extra vehicles were a problem, said “That’s just going to mess up the neighborhood. It will detract even more”.

This issue has been in discussion for six months and the final proposal will be available in about a month more. This could also be combined with a regulation involving changing driveway regulations. That revision is being considered to improve the driveways so that there is less risk of runoff flooding.

Parking in the yard is sometimes against deed restrictions or against regulations in suburbs of Houston, such as Sugarland and Missouri City. Sugarland and Missouri City both have a ban on parking in the yard, but in another suburb, Lake Jackson, it’s okay unless several neighbors complain about it being there over a long period of time.

News Sources: KHOU 11 News Houston “Getting Cars Out Of Yards”

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