Layton man ready to go to jail over parking dispute

Jan 20 2013 - 9:27am

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LAYTON -- A 59-year-old man who says he thinks city code involving parking restrictions is geared more for revenue enhancement than common sense is ready to serve a potential 90-day sentence in jail rather than pay a city fine for parking a vehicle on his lawn.

Todd Harris, of 1554 N. Emerald Drive, insists he will go to jail or do community service rather than pay a $32 fine for parking a vehicle on the lawn. Harris currently has five vehicles at his home, one of which is parked on the lawn behind the house, and a truck, which he is parking on the side lawn on top of a tarp with gravel on it. He has been given a Feb. 2 deadline to comply with the law.

City code states it is unlawful to park a vehicle, trailer, boat or a similar apparatus upon any developed parcel at a local residence other than that designated for parking. It also specifies that an area designated for parking must be concrete, asphalt or a similar surface and of sufficient size to house the entire vehicle.

Harris, who owns a bail bond company, said the matter has gone way beyond common sense. The Hyundai parked on the lawn behind his house is collateral for a bond he posted in a murder case, which is the vehicle that has been cited. He is eager to return the vehicle to its owner, but won't until he collects the $5,000 cash he posted.

He said in one attempt to get a vehicle off the lawn, he parked his truck on the side of the road in front of the house during a non-snow day only to be issued a warning for violating the city's winter parking regulations, limiting the ability to park on the street.

Harris recently met with Marlesse Jones, city prosecutor, who offered to reduce the fine to $20, but Harris refused. Harris claims he asked the prosecutor what he was supposed to do about his cars, as the father of six children. Two of the cars parked at his house belong to his daughters. He said Marlesse told him to lose a child.

City Attorney Gary Crane said Jones and Harris have known each other for years, and said the lose-a-kid comment was in a joking fashion, and very much tongue in cheek. Crane said the best way to bring potential change to city codes people don't agree with is to go through the political process.

The case goes beyond code enforcement, Harris said. He said he has noted that cities are now in the business of generating money, more than just enforcing the law.

"Our judicial system is no longer an institution -- it's an industry," Harris said.

He said the concept of keeping vehicles off the lawn is to avoid junk cars from being stored in yards. But, he said, the city's current application of the principle is flawed, and he is willing to do jail time or community service as a means of bringing attention to a law that needs to be changed.

"I'm trying to comply with the law. I'm just not going to comply the way they want," Harris said. "I'm not going to give them any of my money. I am not going to support a flawed statute."

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