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Council approves RV parking amendment

SIERRA VISTA — The Sierra Vista City Council approved an amendment to the city code dealing with parking on public roads or residential areas for recreational vehicles and trailers during their meeting on Thursday.

The item was first brought up to council in February and has been in discussion since, with multiple opportunities for the public to provide input. The amendment was tabled during an April 11 council meeting as the council needed more time to discuss it.

A number of public comments came in, with 30 in support of proposed amendments which would limit the time RVs and trailers could be parked continuously on a public street, and 25 against it.

The council voted 4 to 2 to approve the amendment restricting continuous parking.

The amended language reads, “It shall be unlawful to park any recreational vehicle or a trailer on a public street in any residential zoning district for any portion of any five cumulative days in any 30 day period unless signs are posted prohibiting on street parking or identifying a different period of time. For purposes of this provision, the changing of the position of a vehicle from one point directly to another point within the same block shall be deemed one continuous parking period.”

City Senior Planner Jeff Pregler explained how the five cumulative days would be calculated.

“What that basically means is that within 30 days, the staff will go out five times in a 30 day period,” he said. “If the vehicle is observed to have been parked for those five days they will be in violation of this section.”

Councilman William Benning voted against the amendment, raising concerns over a recent Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruling that dealt with ordinances aimed to criminalize sleeping or living in public spaces when there were no other alternatives.

“One of my biggest concerns is a ruling by the Ninth Circuit that not being able to park on the street is unconstitutional,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re not setting up for a lawsuit going down the road like California just went through on the same concept.”

City Attorney Nathan Williams said that he did not believe this amendment would be impacted by the ruling, as the ruling dealt specifically with homelessness.

“The case Councilman Benning is referring to also addressed an ordinance out of the city of Boise which prevented anyone from standing, sitting, lying or otherwise being in a public place for any period of time,” he said. “Essentially what the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled was that the Boise ordinance, and I presume California also, criminalized an essential aspect of being homeless, that is, having to sleep somewhere.”

“This ordinance does not criminalize that same type of behavior that is an essential aspect of homelessness.”

Councilwoman Kristine Wolfe also voted against the amendment, stating she felt the particular amendment, part C listed above, was not necessary.

Gwen Calhoun voted for the amendment because she felt the public safety aspect was most important.

“This ordinance has to do more with safety more than anything else and we’ve received a number of comments, including my personal experience which I don’t think i’ve commented on before, finding continuous parking of a large vehicle like an RV motor home to be a safety hazard,” she said.

“Often times you can’t see citizens moving in front or behind one and in some cases the vehicle blocks the intersection.”

The amended city code lays out enforcement guidelines.

“Any police officer or other duly authorized agent who has reasonable grounds to believe that a vehicle has been parked in violation of this chapter may remove or cause the removal of such vehicle from any public street.”

Enforcement would begin with several written notices placed on the vehicle with instructions to move it, and if the vehicle is not moved it will be removed and impounded.

This applies to any parking violations, including RVs and trailers.

The amendment goes into effect on Aug. 1.

Top of the line: Law enforcement officers honored at annual ceremony

SIERRA VISTA — Some of the county’s most dedicated protectors gathered at Cochise College on Thursday to celebrate another year of distinguished service among local law enforcement.

Thirteen outstanding members of law enforcement from throughout the county, representing agencies ranging from Arizona Department of Transportation, to the Tombstone Marshal’s Office, to the United States Border Patrol, were nominated for the honor of “top cop” at the annual luncheon and awards ceremony, hosted by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, which began the tradition last year.

Following a memorial for all law enforcement personnel who have died while on duty in Cochise County from 1882 until 2018, the nomination forms for the thirteen “top cop” competitors were read. Judged by a panel of objective civilian volunteers, the forms listed staggering achievements: the nominees had prevented suicides, broke up smuggling rings, and rescued victims of sex crimes over the past year, helping to make communities throughout the county and surrounding areas a safer place.

All the nominees received hand-crafted awards for their service.

But only one could be named “top cop,” a title which went to Detective Travis Deskins of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Among Deskins’ many accomplishments for 2018 were seizing numerous amounts of illegal drugs, leading his district in arrests, and helping lead to the conduction of “two major drug conspiracy investigations,” according to the nomination form written by his superiors.

“It’s a privilege,” said Deskins of the honor. “I had a lot of hard work go into the last year, a lot of support from my agency and coworkers that helped with a lot of the cases progressing the way they did.”

Law enforcement personnel like Deskins and the other outstanding nominees who work tirelessly to keep their communities safe allow people to “live up to their potential,” said Jacqui Clay, Cochise County Schools Superintendent and the event’s guest speaker.

“Let me tell you how important you are — because of you, we are great, because of you, this nation is great, this country is great, because you have our backs,” Clay said.

It was important to give law enforcement agencies the opportunity to celebrate their best and brightest, said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.

“Plus, it’s an incentive for all our young officers, deputies and agents to strive for this,” he said. “This is a neat award because you’ve got to do some special things to get it.”

“It’s a way for us to recognize those who serve our communities every day,” he said.