Well, I finally caught up on my Facebook page, only to find out that while I was away, big things happened in the Midwest. In fact, a note left on a trucker’s window in Coon Rapids, Minn., has truckers spewing anger that I haven’t seen since the Warner Robins, Ga., parking restrictions incident early in the year.
This is the third such incident I have seen since I made my way into the trucking industry about six months ago. First was the parking restrictions, and eventual rescinding of the ordinance in Warner Robins. Then there was the Wal-Mart incident in Texas as blogged about by Overdrive’s online magazine blogger Wendy Parker and now the Coon Rapids conundrum.
“Attn: Trucker! Find a new city to park your rig. We do not like these eyesores in our city” -Coon Rapids, Minnesota
Anyway, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the post on Facebook concerning the note, and a picture of the note taped to the trucker’s window. I know the picture of the note is small and if you haven’t already seen the contents, here is what the note said:
“Attn: Trucker! FYI! Read sign posted no overnight parking in this shopping center lot. FYI! The Coon Rapids City Council passed a(n) ordinance this spring to crack down on all semi trucks etc. parking in any of our shopping districts. The police dept. will (now) issue expensive tickets. Just a friendly reminder for you. Find a new city to park your rig. We do not like these eyesores in our city. FYI: I have called the police.”
At first, my knee-jerk reaction was to think how woefully sorry this town of about 62,000 residents in southeastern Minnesota was going to be when truckers started boycotting the city because of parking restrictions at shopping centers and when the residents began discovering how difficult it was to find items in their locals stores because truckers would no longer deliver. Then I thought, “There’s got to be more to it than this.”
There was. The Coon Rapids city code reads as follows:
9-204 Parking and Storage of Recreational Vehicles, Trucks, Semi Tractors and Trailers in Commercial and Office Districts (1) Purpose. The maintenance of certain vehicles in areas outside of designated loading bays and loading zones is unsightly, causes public safety concerns, impacts site parking and traffic circulation, and degrades surrounding property values. Regulation is necessary to alleviate these impacts, and to provide land use uniformity for businesses to operate competitively.
(2) Violation. It is a misdemeanor to stand, park, store, or allow to stand, be parked, or be stored, in a place affected with a public interest, a recreational vehicle, a truck whose gross vehicle weight is 26,000 pounds or more, a semi tractor, or a trailer, between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., except when the vehicle: a) is in a queue approved on a site plan or by the Community Development Director, for a loading dock or loading area, for not more than eight hours; or b) is being actively loaded or unloaded.
a) Community Service Officers may issue citations for violations of Section 9-204(2) and may be processed in a Citizen Awareness Project diversion program.
b) Violations may also be subject to civil process and abatement under Chapter 8-1100. [Adopted 12/18/12, Ordinance 2100]
My next thought was, “Well, I wonder if Wendy Parker had anything to say about this?” Acutally, I knew the answer to my question even before I called up Overdrive online to check out her blog. Sure enough, there it was. So, I set off reading to see what she had to say about the situation. I often read Parker’s blog because she makes me think. I find, more often than not, that I don’t agree with her or even like her writing, but I always find that she makes me step back and assess the situation before jumping in.
If anything, I knew she would fly off the handle and go in with guns blazing, like she did with the Wal-Mart fiasco. This time, I was wrong. She took the time to write to a city council member and even got a response on the situation. This time, I actually agreed with most of what she had to say.
But I digress. The thing that really bothered me about the whole parking situation was the fact that one resident of the city decided to take it into their own hands to chastise this trucker with an anonymous note and inform the trucker they don’t like these “eyesores” in their city, even going so far as to tell the trucker to “Find a new city to park your rig.”
It was later explained that the city is trying to crack down on idle semi trailers or tractors being parked for extended periods of time in areas such as shopping center parking lots. The city ordinance does allow for vehicles in service to have a certain amount of time to be parked, while waiting to be loaded or unloaded.
My biggest concern is that the citizen that left this message has no idea how much the trucking industry means to the retail industry in the United States. The two go hand-in-hand. The retail industry needs product to be delivered. Whether it is by air, by sea or by land, that product must be delivered. If it is delivered to a port, that product still needs to make its way to the retailer — and that is done by truck. Trucks also transport goods across this nation daily, whether short haul or long haul. With new regulations hitting the trucking industry hard, truckers will need places to park their trucks. At times, those stays may have to be more than 24 hours to comply with the new regulations.
I agree that unattended tractors or trailers should not be left in public or semipublic areas for days or weeks on end. I also agree with provisions put in place by the Coon Rapids City Council to make sure overnight or extended parking for trucks loading and unloading can take place.
Unfortunately, those who do not understand the importance of the trucking industry to this nation have their proverbial head stuck in the sand and have no clue how items get to their supermarket, department store or any other retail outlet. Without those trucks loading and unloading and possibly parking in a parking lot for a night, we would all be up that well-known creek without a paddle because the truck wasn’t able to deliver it to our local retail outlet.
About the Author
Larry Hurrle is the editor of IT Magazine. He has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years at both daily and weekly newspapers in the Northwest.