vs. the mayor,
may keep ‘No Parking’ signs, even though
Lorain, Ohio--City council has passed another ordinance allowing patrons of Lorain’s only gay bar to park in the street, and Mayor Craig Foltin says he will allow it to take effect without his signature.
But Foltin indicated he may keep the No Parking signs up in front of Tim’s Place.
The moves by council and the mayor are the latest rounds of a dispute that will probably be resolved in court.
Council passed the ordinance on February 5 with a 9-1 vote. It takes effect in ten days.
Offered by council member Eddie Edwards, the measure is essentially the same as another one passed in December, also sponsored by Edwards. It permits parking on the east side of Broadway Avenue, from 22nd Street to 27th Street, between 6 pm and 3:30 am.
The bar is on the east side of Broadway between 22nd and 23rd.
Foltin vetoed the December measure, and council fell one vote short of an override with one member missing.
The new ordinance amends another one passed in December, 2005, which allowed parking in that area without restriction. Foltin signed that one into law, then put up the No Parking signs.
The bar, owned for 22 years by Tim Draves, has no parking lot of its own, and is the business most hurt by the parking ban.
Draves says on-street parking used to accommodate up to 25 of his patrons’ cars, and allowed him to receive deliveries more easily.
Parking was allowed until Broadway was resurfaced and re-striped in 2005. The four-lane street, Ohio Route 57, is a thoroughfare in the center of Lorain, just west of Cleveland.
Foltin says parking along that stretch of Broadway is hazardous, and relies on contradictory statements by the police chief and the city’s engineering department to support his claim. Parking is allowed on Broadway to the north and south of the stretch in dispute.
There are two Ohio laws allowing the situation to exist. Changing it may require intervention of a court.
The first state law gives all authority to regulate parking to city council. According to Lorain Law Director Mark Provenza, council has never given that authority to the mayor.
The competing law says that parking is illegal anywhere a sign is posted saying so.
Provenza said he initially backed the mayor’s decision because he thought the city might expose itself to some liability if an accident occurred there.
However, Provenza has done additional research into the matter and no longer believes that to be the case. He sees no problem with allowing parking there. He told the Gay People’s Chronicle that as long as one lane of traffic in both directions remained open, no “nuisance condition” is created that the city might be held liable for.
That opinion is consistent with statements in a city engineer’s report that Foltin uses to justify the signs.
The law director is counsel to city officials, and has no authority to make or enforce laws.
However, asked directly if he would change the signs in by February 15 to comply with the law, Foltin put the responsibility for enforcing it on Provenza.
“I don’t know if [the new ordinance] is enforceable,” said Foltin.
“If the law director says it’s our legal duty, I will do as he advises,” said Foltin. “That way, it falls in his lap if there’s a wreck there.”
However, Foltin has ignored council and the advice of the law director so far, so it is not yet clear what his intentions are.
Draves believes Foltin is targeting his bar. He is consulting an attorney about a possible lawsuit to compel Foltin to follow the ordinance if the parking ban is not lifted.
Another challenge to the signs could come from a motorist who gets ticketed parking there. According to Provenza, the ordinance could be raised as a defense.