It soon may be illegal to park a car in a yard in Allentown.
It also may be illegal to use skateboards on any streets or sidewalks in three designated “core business districts” in the city. You still will be able to ride a bicycle on streets in those districts, but not on the sidewalks.
Those are among several proposed amendments to Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance that will come before City Council Wednesday night. They were discussed and recommended by two members of council’s public works committee Monday evening.
Other proposed new amendments to the ordinance apply to the entire city, not just those core business districts.
One states “vehicle parking is not permitted on grass, landscaped, dirt or stone areas” of a property. It allows exemptions only for city sponsored and other events.
Council member Jeanette Eichenwald said she gets more phone calls complaining about people parking on grass than any other subject—“especially when it’s in the back of a house and infringes on other people’s properties.”
Another proposal will require property owners to remove satellite dishes from the exterior of their properties when their TV satellite service is disconnected.
Council president Julio Guridy complained that he sees too many satellite dishes in the city. He named Turner Street as an example, saying they are on “almost every block.”
The three “core business districts” where new bicycling and skateboarding restrictions will apply are:
• Center City Business District--Hamilton Street from 4th to 12th streets and between Linden to Walnut streets.
• Seventh Street Business District –7th Street from Tilghman south to Hamilton.
• Nineteenth Street Business District – North 19th from Liberty to Tilghman and Allen Street from 18th to 20th streets.
“These are highly populated areas and we felt bicycles on the sidewalk and skateboarding would be a safety issue to pedestrians and people in those areas,” explained Ann Saurman, who coordinates the city’s Sweep ticketing enforcement program.
Resident John Potak of Occupy Allentown warned banning skateboarding in those three city districts will “build more defiance” against city police.
“There are a lot of teen-age kids in this city,” said resident Ken Heffentrager. “You’re just pushing them out farther. Everywhere they go, they seem to get shoved out. You seem to be alienating them more and more. They become more and more misfits because of that.”
Heffentrager suggested Allentown should build a skate park.
Council member Ray O’Connell, who chairs the public works committee, agreed skateboarders need a skate park in Allentown. Eichenwald said if council passes new skateboarding restrictions, it is “incumbent” on the city to look for skateboarding solutions within Allentown’s park system.
Teenager Richard Ramos also said the city needs a skateboard park. “We’ll pursue that,” promised O’Connell.
Other proposed amendents require skateboard riders must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on sidewalks anywhere in the city and ban "reckless" skateboard riding.
When resident Jim Brilhart, of the Industrial Workers of the World, raised questions regarding the constitutionality of restricting the placement of political handbills on parked vehicles, O'Connell and Eichenwald agreed to recommend that portion of the Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance be amended.
The public works committee also heard suggestions from Potak that community bulletin boards should be erected at prominent intersections throughout the city and accessible to all residents with no restrictions.