Fort Worth

Judge helped put up fake ‘No Parking’ signs near TCU without city OK

‘No parking’ signs on West Devitt Street near the TCU campus look official but are actually fakes. As of Monday (Aug. 8, 2016), the signs were still up, but Fort Worth officials said they plan to have them removed.
‘No parking’ signs on West Devitt Street near the TCU campus look official but are actually fakes. As of Monday (Aug. 8, 2016), the signs were still up, but Fort Worth officials said they plan to have them removed. Star-Telegram

A state appeals court judge has acknowledged that he helped install eight fake “No Parking” signs on a city street near Texas Christian University.

The signs on West Devitt Street near the south end of the TCU campus are illegal and will soon be removed, a city official said Monday afternoon.

They just park their cars there 24 hours a day. They leave trash. It creates gigantic congestion.

Larry Meyers, state appeals judge and Bluebonnet Hills resident

Larry Meyers, who has served on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals since 1992, said the signs were necessary because throngs of TCU students often park in his Bluebonnet Hills neighborhood, leaving little room for the homeowners and their cars.

“TCU closed all its parking lots at the fraternity houses, so all the TCU kids, they won’t park where TCU told them they could park, at another garage on the north side of campus. They park on our streets,” Meyers said in a phone interview.

“They just park their cars there 24 hours a day. They leave trash. It creates gigantic congestion.”

Official-looking

The eight official-looking signs feature the messages “No parking anytime,” “Tow-away zone” and “Resident parking only.” They are mounted on metal poles, and are similar to legitimate, city-authorized signs on adjacent streets that do have parking restrictions.

Meyers said he was among a group of area residents who installed the signs, although he didn’t name the other participants. He said the installation cost was more than $1,000.

We’re trying really hard to improve relations with the students and make them feel welcome, and to put up ‘No parking’ signs illegally just hurts the cause.

Martha Jones, Bluebonnet Hills Neighborhood Association

The sign posts were installed several weeks ago along West Devitt Street, from Stadium Drive to Wabash Avenue, Meyers said. The “no parking” signs were initially included on the posts but were removed after some neighbors expressed concern. The poles were left in the ground without the signs for several weeks while the neighborhood negotiated with the city about possibly adding parking restrictions in the area.

But then this week, even though the negotiations weren’t complete, the “No parking” signs appeared back on the posts, just as many TCU students returned to campus activities. Fall-semester classes begin Aug. 22.

The signs are unenforceable and anyone who parks in that area cannot be cited or have their vehicle towed, city and neighborhood officials said.

Neighborhood issue

Parking has been an issue in the Bluebonnet Hills neighborhood for years. About six years ago, the neighborhood association began working with the city to create permit parking zones on several streets, where longtime residents often share space with students.

A pilot project was launched about three years ago in which permits were required for parking on certain blocks — and today those areas include the 3100 block of Wabash Avenue, the 3100 block of Odessa Avenue and the 3100 and 3200 blocks of Stadium Drive.

However, the fake signs on West Devitt Street could hamper that effort because it could hurt the goodwill created between neighborhood officials and the TCU student body, said Martha Jones, parking chairwoman for the Bluebonnet Hills Neighborhood Association.

“We’re trying really hard to improve relations with the students and make them feel welcome, and to put up ‘no parking’ signs illegally just hurts the cause,” Jones said.

Proper channels

Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, whose district includes the area, said the fake signs had been brought to her attention. Although she didn’t name Meyers, she said the person responsible for the signs had initially agreed to remove the signs but leave the poles in place while the city decided whether to keep them, but then changed his mind.

“The noncity signs were put up a while back, and the city had the person who put them up remove the signs but left the poles,” she said in an email. Meanwhile, the neighborhood association began working through “proper channels” to try to address concerns about parking on West Devitt Street, Zadeh said. But during that process, the person decided to reinstall the signs, which alarmed some neighbors.

“Multiple residents have contacted our office and the staff in [Transportation and Public Works] and they are taking care of the situation,” Zadeh said.

“Yes, we are aware of the signs and we will take them down,” said city spokeswoman Cindy Vasquez. “Only the city has the right to put up a sign and enforce it in a public right of way.”

Installing a sign without permission is a violation of a city ordinance, Fort Worth City Attorney Sarah Fullenwider said. It can be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

However, city officials are working with Meyers to address his concerns, Vasquez said. She made no mention of a possible penalty for Meyers, or any other area residents who may have helped install the fake signs.

“If a situation like this occurs, we like to create a dialogue with the individual(s) who put up the sign and see if we can find a solution to the reason they put the sign up. We have done that in this instance,” she said in an email.

Meyers said he and other neighbors would share the costs.

“It’s almost the equivalent of an adopt-a-park program,” he said.

Meyers in the news

Meyers is no stranger to controversy.

In 2014, he filed a suit to do away with the Texas voter ID law, saying it was unconstitutional.

In 2013, after about 11 years serving as a Republican on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Meyers switched parties and became the lone Democrat to occupy an elected statewide office. His term expires in January, and he is seeking re-election.

And in 2012, he made headlines after an arrest warrant was issued for him in the Austin area for an unpaid speeding ticket.

 

Staff writer Bud Kennedy contributed to this report, which includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson

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