Riverside City Council is set vote Thursday night on a plan to prohibit parking that blocks postal service access to mailboxes, an issue more than a dozen other area cities said they have no law against.
The Riverside proposal calls for a ban on parking a motor vehicle “within 10 feet of another property owner’s mailbox” between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Beavercreek and Franklin each passed similar measures, records show. Beavercreek makes it illegal to park within 20 feet of a mailbox, but neither city has time restrictions.
Parking prohibitions with mailboxes are not the norm locally, a Dayton Daily News survey of other local governments found.
Bellbrook, Carlisle, Centerville, Fairborn, Kettering, Lebanon, Miamisburg, Oakwood, Springboro, Tipp City, Troy, Washington Twp., West Carrollton and Xenia all said they have not taken similar action.
Franklin passed its measure last year after residents complained that high school students were parking too close to their boxes, causing their mail not to be delivered, according to City Manager Jonathan Westendorf.
While the law was being considered, other residents reached out and expressed they had similar issues receiving mail, but not related to high school students, Westendorf said.
The Riverside legislation also stems from complaints by residents saying postal carriers can’t access curbside boxes from their vehicles, Riverside Mayor Pete Williams said.
Because of the issue, one resident said no mail was delivered to their home for more than a week, city records state.
Riverside officials were told “if there’s not clearance, the USPS truck can’t always get there easily” and residents said “that they just wouldn’t get their mail for a day or maybe it was happening consistently and it just became a quite an inconvenience,” Williams said.
U.S. Postal Service guidelines for blocked mailboxes state that “customers are required, as a condition of delivery, to ensure that proper access is provided to mail receptacles” or risk losing service if the issue persists.
That involves a 15-foot clearance between vehicles and mailboxes, Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson has said. Ohio law does not prohibit vehicles from blocking mailboxes, leaving local jurisdictions to decide the issue, he told city council earlier.
“The areas in the city where the population is denser, and the parking is limited in the driveways (that) pushes more vehicles out into the streets, causing this issue,” Robinson said in an email.
Robinson noted city has not received “very many complaints.”
Westendorf said the Franklin’s program offers free stickers to be placed on mailboxes stating homeowners will call police to enforce the law.
“This is NOT something our officers are taking upon themselves to enforce as parking is a premium for many of our residents,” he said. “I am not sure if it has ever been used, but it is available to help benefit our residents if needed.”
In Riverside’s case, residents in the Valleyview neighborhood near Stebbins High School and the Dayton border told city council that cars parked on the street in that subdivision were causing problems with postal delivery, Williams said.
In one instance, Riverside records show, a resident “was having work done with a contractor and it prohibited that resident from getting mail for a week and a half.”
Postal service policy states “the city or rural carrier should get out of the vehicle to make delivery if the mailbox is temporarily blocked by a vehicle.
“However, if the carrier continually experiences a problem in serving curb line or rural boxes where the customer is able to control on street parking, the postmaster may withdraw delivery service.”
If approved, first-time Riverside violators would face a minor misdemeanor with repeat offenders facing progressively stronger charges, city records state. The penalty for a minor misdemeanor is a fine of up to $150, according to Ohio law.
“Our first task is to find out who owns the vehicle and match the car with house” and have the vehicle moved, Robinson said.
“Our first step is not just to put a ticket on the car,” he added. “Of course, if the issue persists then the ordinance is in place to give us the ability to cite the owner. I believe common courtesy will prevail.”
Staff Writers London Bishop, Nancy Bowman and Eric Schwartzberg contributed to this report.