Clarifying rules of front yard parking - Albuquerque Journal

Clarifying rules of front yard parking

THE BACK STORY ON FRONT-YARD PARKING: Last week’s column explaining people with homes built before 2008 can park on their front yards had a lot of readers pumping the brakes.

One caller cites the city residential code, 14-16-2-6, F3, and says he could find no exemption for pre-2008 homes. And RN asks “would you please ask your sources to quote chapter, verse and section of the code that claims this?”

Melissa Perez, public information officer for Albuquerque’s Planning Department, says “the ordinance for homes built in 2008 or after is part of the Zoning Code Section 14-16-3-1 of the general parking regulations section. Homes built prior to that are legally non-conforming, because there was no code governing parking in the front yard at that time.

“And I should clarify – it’s not really an ordinance, it’s a portion of the current zoning code. So section 14-16-3-1, General Parking Regulations, Off Street Parking Regulations.”

AS FOR RVS: Meanwhile, Al noticed that the column mentioned homes built before 2008 “are grandfathered in. So homes of that age do not have limitations – except recreational vehicles – for front-yard parking.” His email asks, “can RVs be parked in gravel or not and also can RVs be parked in street in front of a house?

“I have parked my towable RV in the front yard on gravel and have also noticed recently that a house up the street has a towable RV on the street.”

Perez says it “will depend on the type of zone the home is in.” If it’s an R-1 residential zone, the most popular of residential home zones, it is governed by zoning code Section 14-16-2-6(A)(2)(i) which applies to recreational vehicle, boat, or boat-and-boat trailer parking and says you can park them in a side or rear yard as long as it does not go over a sidewalk; in a front yard if the unit is perpendicular to the front curb, the body of the unit is at least 11 feet from the face of the curb, no part extends over a sidewalk, it is not lived in more than 14 days in a calendar year, no cooking takes place in it, no butane or propane are used in it, it’s not hooked up to sewer or water or electricity lines (battery charging is allowed with a permit), it is not used for storage, and it is not in a clear sight triangle (blocking drivers’ views).

All that said, it can be parked “anywhere on the premises during active loading or unloading, and use of electricity or propane fuel is permitted when necessary to prepare a recreational vehicle for use.”

As for parking on the street, city code 8-5-1-13 does not allow vehicles wider the 90 inches (7½feet), and 8-5-1-15 does not allow parking that would leave less than 10 feet of width on the road for traffic.

HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS HAVE OWN RULES: Vicki Sears points out that drivers with older homes don’t necessarily have a free pass to park on their yards, specifically if they have “homes that are part of a homeowners association. Some association’s governing documents prohibit parking in unpaved or undesignated areas. It does not matter when the homes were built. It only matters that the home is governed by the CC&Rs (Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions). I think that this should be clarified to provide some hope for those that are part of an association.”

PEDESTRIANS ALWAYS RULE: Also in last week’s column, a reader asked if vehicles had to yield to her at street corners with no marked crosswalk. I incorrectly said no, thinking of the danger of residential streets that connect to higher-speed major arterials.

Readers rightly focused on the wording “unmarked crosswalk” in state statute 66-7-335 (A) that says “Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway” to show drivers should yield.

Joanne McEntire points out “the reader is trying to cross the street at a corner which is an unmarked crosswalk unless signage indicates that it is not.”

Chris Wuellner emails “if we can assume that by “corner,” the writer means ‘intersection’ then, according to 66-7-335, the pedestrian has the right-of-way ‘within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.’ ”

Duncan Hammon adds “if a pedestrian is crossing the street at a corner – an unmarked crosswalk – then vehicles must yield. My question is, if the pedestrian is on the curb, they are not in the crosswalk, so must traffic stop or does the pedestrian have to first step off of the curb?”

And Albuquerque Police Department officer Tanner Tixier says “technically, all intersections are designated as unmarked crosswalks, and vehicles are supposed to yield to pedestrians. However, at the speed limits set on certain roads in this city, it would be unlikely to expect drivers to slam on their brakes for a pedestrian who walks out into the middle of traffic. The childhood adage of ‘look both ways before you cross the street’ could save your life.”

Considering 44 pedestrians have been killed on New Mexico roads through July of this year, the fact vehicles are supposed to yield amounts to an academic question, or an epitaph.

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.


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