SPOKANE, Wash.— One Spokane woman could face hundreds of dollars in fines if she does not fix a $2,000 parking problem she didn't know she had.
KREM 2 On Your Side found that parking on an unpaved driveway violates a Spokane code. But, the homeowner will usually only be penalized if a neighbor complains.
“We never block the sidewalk, we keep it open, we know that law,” said homeowner Rebecca Eliason who lives near Princeton and Morton.
She said she parked her cars the same way every day for ten years. Then in April, Eliason received a letter in the mail that said she was breaking Spokane City Code and had two weeks to fix it.
“I can't believe that. I have a driveway in the front yard, I'm not allowed to use it to park,” said Eliason.
Her driveway was not paved and did not have the required dip in the sidewalk at the end of the driveway. The City said those were violations.
Eliason was told she needed to spend $2,000 to have a contractor fix her driveway if she wanted to continue using it or she would face hefty fines.
Eliason was not the only one in the neighborhood breaking City code. A KREM 2 News crew found cars parked in lawns, cars parked on sidewalks and RV’s parked in front of houses. They found all types of cars parked on unpaved driveways. Most of the homeowners said they had no idea they were breaking code.
The Lead Code Enforcement Officer said her department operates on a "complaint-based" system. This means officers do not perform routine patrols. The officers rely on neighbors to complain if there is a problem.
City officers also said they will not ticket a homeowner if they see violations while responding to other complaints.
The complaint-based system is not unique to Spokane. Cities of similar size, such as Boise and Reno, respond to calls from citizens.