ZEPHYRHILLS — Jim Burns, retired U.S. Army major, has spent the last two years battling an ever-present annoyance of neighborhood life:
Cars that are parked at the end of driveways — and hang out into the sidewalk.
Pedestrians have to detour into the street. So do children on bicycles and parents pushing strollers. And for disabled people like himself, he said, "you can't go anywhere."
So the Lake Bernadette resident was happy to hear about an item on Pasco commissioners' agenda today in Dade City: Officials will consider whether to make blocking a portion of the sidewalk a county parking violation.
County regulations already prohibit parking on sidewalks. The regulations do not address, however, people who park in their private driveways but manage to block the sidewalk in front of their homes.
Scofflaws would get fined $15 for the first offense, $30 for future offenses.
The proposed amendment comes back for a final hearing on Nov. 3.
Blocked sidewalks are a common scene in many Pasco neighborhoods, from Embassy Hills on the west side to Lake Bernadette on the east.
Burns knows firsthand what it takes to deal with such roadblocks. Injured in a 2007 motorcycle accident, he used a wheelchair for a time.
He remembers encountering vehicles as he tried to get out on the sidewalks. He could not cut into the yard; St. Augustine grass would bog the chair down. He could not back up and go down another driveway; the grade was so steep that the chair tipped over.
He said he's watched a legally blind woman walking on the sidewalk approach a car blocking her path and then just turn around in frustration.
As he sees it, the problem is that people store everything but their two cars in their two-car garage.
"People don't use their garage to park cars," he said. "They use them for junk."
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.