Attorney Darren O'Connor Challenges Denver Parks Authority To Issue Parking Citations
Moon Chavez looks for paperwork in the RV she lives in with her husband Mike Berglund in Denver on May 23, 2022. Photo Credit: Denver Post.
O'Connor Jones: A People's Law Office's Darren O'Connor recently represented a woman living in her RV who was issued a $100 fine by the Denver Parks Department. "When they were parked alongside Vanderbilt Park in the southwest part of the city in February, a Denver park ranger wrote them and a handful of other people also staying in RVs $100 tickets for illegal parking.
With the help of Boulder-based attorney Darren O’Connor, the couple was able to get the ticket dropped." See Denver Post Article here.
Ms. Chavez was ticketed pursuant to the authority of Denver Revised Municipal Code Section 39-4. Advocates for people experiencing homelessness approached attorney O'Connor, concerned that the city of Denver was expanding the employees who could issue overnight parking and other citations without the jurisdiction to do so.
In his appeal on behalf of Ms. Chavez, O'Connor wrote:
"The ordinance at issue provides authority of the Parks Department to enforce violations “in any area or part of any park, parkway, mountain park, or other recreational facility,” or “in any passive recreation use area.”
Ms. Chavez asserts that she is not guilty because the Parks Department has no authority over enforcement of activities on the street, which is where she was parked. The street adjacent to the park, which is where her vehicle was parked and for which she was cited, is not in any area or part of any park; it is not in a parkway; it is not in a mountain park; it is not in a recreational facility; and it is not a passive recreation use area.
. . .
Should Ms. Chavez’s petition for appeal be denied on this basis, she will consider it a final administrative ruling and seek judicial review under. C.R.C.P. § 106(a)(4) for exceeding jurisdiction, with regard to prohibiting parking on streets adjacent to a park under the authority of the parks and recreation department, and abuse of discretion for failure to address the evidentiary support provided herein, thus rendering the decision not to hear the appeal arbitrary and capricious. See Ross v. Fire Police Pension Ass'n, 713 P.2d 1304 (Colo. 1986)."
Denver quickly dismissed the citation and replaced the signs near where Ms. Chavez was ticketed; however, they have not acknowledged the lack of jurisdiction for park rangers to issue such citations. Anyone receiving a citation from park rangers in Denver that are for activities on the street adjacent to a park is encouraged to contact Mr. O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.