City of Janesville says residents may not paint their curbs

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Frank Schultz
Friday, August 29, 2014

JANESVILLE--You might be upset at cars parked illegally in your neighborhood.

You might want to warn people that police are ticketing cars for parking violations.

But you can't paint your curb yellow.

That's the message from city of Janesville officials, who say they occasionally hear about people painting their curbs or asking to paint their curbs.

The latest instance was Tuesday, when police received a complaint that someone was painting a curb on the near west side.

The curb is on Johnson Street, near the corner with Locust Street and alongside the home of Andreah Briarmoon, a longtime critic of city officials.

Briarmoon said she didn't paint the curb, but she is glad someone did.

Briarmoon said people have been getting tickets for parking in the 30-foot-long no-parking zone behind the yield sign at the corner. She put up a sign on the terrace to warn drivers that they might be ticketed, but the sign disappeared, she said.

The city does not allow signs on the terrace, which is the strip of land between the curb and the sidewalk.

Janesville City Attorney Wald Klimczyk said in an email that only the city may paint the curb.

Klimczyk cited state statute 346.41, which says no one can place “any unauthorized sign, light, reflector, signal, marking or device” that imitates or resembles an official traffic sign or signal.

The city ordinances adopt that statute, Klimczyk said.

Whoever painted the curb appears to have known that the city ordinance forbids parking within 30 feet of a stop sign, yield sign or traffic light.

The curb is painted for about 30 feet behind the yield sign.

The city's ordinance is different from the state statute, which requires only a 15-foot no-parking zone, said Dennis Ryan, assisting engineering manager for the city.

City ordinances also say: “A curb painted yellow, whether solidly or intermittently, shall be considered an official marker indicating that the parking of vehicles is prohibited in the street immediately adjacent to such painted curb.”

The privately painted curb on Johnson Street appears to be marking an area that is designated by city ordinance to be a no-parking zone.

It's not clear whether the city will permit the curb to remain that way. John Whitcomb, director of operations for the public works department, said Thursday it wasn't a high priority.

If residents want their curbs painted, “we just prefer somebody call the police, and we would investigate any person's complaint, and if any work needs to be done by (the public works department), we would just forward the reports (to public works),” said Deputy Chief John Olsen of the police department.

Ryan said the city couldn't possibly paint all the curbs where parking isn't allowed, and he notes that the paint has no effect when covered by snow.

The city does paint curbs in areas with persistent parking problems—around schools and the fairgrounds, Ryan said.

Olsen said that if the city decides the paint on a privately painted curb should be removed, police could issue a citation for vandalism.

Every five years or so, Ryan said, the city gets a request from someone who wants to paint house numbers on curbs and charge the homeowners for it. The city does not allow that, either, he said.

A search of the city's online ordinances shows it's also forbidden to deface bridges, telephone poles, sidewalks or publicly owned trees and shrubs.

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