The City of Fridley wants to make sure you get your mail.
The Fridley City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance Monday that would ban parking in front of a mailbox between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, excluding federal holidays, in a way that blocks the mail carrier from delivering mail.
The ordinance allows parking in front of a mailbox during those hours—unless the mail carrier is trying to deliver mail.
“If you are parked in such a way that obstructs or interferes with mail delivery, that’s a violation of the ordinance,” said Fridley Director of Public Safety Don Abbott.
Over the years, the Fridley Police Department has dealt with complaints from residents that they didn’t get their mail delivered that day because someone parked in front of their mailbox, Abbott said.
“It’s almost unusual, in fact, that a city doesn’t have an ordinance like this,” said Fridley City Attorney Fritz Knaak.
The U.S. Postal Service’s policy for curbside delivery is that if a mailbox is blocked, the mail carrier must skip that mailbox and move on to the next.
Last summer, there was an incident in which a Fridley resident did not get their mail because someone parked along their mailbox. Police were called to the scene, and a “fight almost started,” Abbott said.
“We constantly deal with this issue several times a year,” Abbott said. “So we thought it’s probably time to use an ordinance to prevent the problem.”
Educating Fridley Residents
Under the state statute, the maximum fine for a ticketed person would be $200, although most parking violations in Fridley are a substantially lower cost, Abbott said. It may be similar to parking during snow plowing, which is a $44 ticket.
The ordinance will be published within the next few days in the Sun Focus newspaper, the city’s legal publication. Then, the law will go into effect 14 days later. All city codes are also available on the city's Web site.
Abbott said his department is likely to handle this type of violation with a warning at first.
Writing the Ordinance
At first, city officials and the police department took a version of the ordinance from another city, stating that parking would be prohibited within 10 feet of a mailbox between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., regardless of whether mail was being delivered at that time.
“That’s nuts—or at least that’s what the council’s reaction to it was,” Knaak said. “That would be way too much restriction on residential streets.”
The new language used in the ordinance is more lenient. Abbott said most people know around what time the mail is delivered in their neighborhood and can avoid a citation by moving their vehicles if necessary.
“We’re dealing with an ordinance that, thankfully, over the years, most of our residents have already been abiding by—out of consideration for their neighbors or just common sense,” Abbott said. “But there are always a few people who don’t, so an ordinance is just another way to get that message out.”