By Walter Smith
Because of a recent unfortunate incident in the Rancho El Dorado neighborhood, it has come to the attention of other residents and myself that the city of Maricopa has no city ordinance to prohibit anyone from sleeping in a car in front of a house, whether or not they live in that house, in the neighborhood in question, or even in the city of Maricopa itself. We believe that this oversight by our city government should be corrected promptly in order to ensure the safety of the residents of the city of Maricopa.
In the recent incident that brought this oversight to light, a former convict had been evicted from a house in Rancho El Dorado by his fellow tenants for his continued use of illegal drugs and for causing problems with neighbors because of that drug use. The eviction came after a swarm of police descended on the residence when, following a confrontation with another neighbor, the man flashed a handgun at the neighbor and his two sons. But, instead of moving on after his eviction, the man simply began sleeping in his vehicle in front of that house after most people on the street had gone to sleep.
When some of us began to notice the man asleep in his car in the morning when we’d wake up, we called the Maricopa Police Department and the Rancho El Dorado HOA to have the man removed, as an armed former convict flashing a gun at neighbors a short distance from sleeping children (my wife and I alone have a 2-year-old and a newborn 8-week-old less than 100 feet away from the man’s car) is not exactly the most desirable attribute to suburban living. Both MPD and the Rancho El Dorado HOA told us that there was nothing that they could do about the man sleeping in his car because that wasn’t illegal in the city of Maricopa nor prohibited by the Rancho El Dorado CC&Rs.
Since the man became aware of the flurry of e-mails about his presence, the former convict has moved on. That does not, however, correct the problem.
Yesterday, it was a former resident sleeping in the street in his car just a few feet away from my children. Tomorrow, that might be a drug-running cartel member who needs some shuteye after making it up through the Vekol Valley, and it might be your house he stops in front of to catch some winks. But no city ordinance prohibiting sleeping in the street in your car means that your neighborhood, in front of your house with your sleeping family, is a perfectly viable spot for him to relax and unwind. After all, what can MPD or your HOA do about it? There’s no law.
It is ludicrous that a resident of this city would need to sleep in his or her car in the street. Even considering domestic tensions, the houses in Maricopa should be of more than sufficient size to separate squabbling residents. And even if they’re not, a driveway is certainly a much more appropriate place to sleep in your car than the public streets outside of your own personal real estate. No one is asking for further restrictions against what residents may do in their own driveways. Maricopa is well served on that front. But a city ordinance banning sleeping in cars on public streets is a prudent measure to consider for the safety of all Maricopans.
As recently as Monday, Sheriff Paul Babeu warned of cartel assassins in Pinal County. Restricting sleeping in cars is not an uncommon practice. It is done in cities across the countries, including in the cities of Minneapolis and Palo Alto. Even the city of Phoenix prohibits sleeping or camping in the street, and Arizona revised statutes permit municipalities to make decisions about such activities for the safety and peace of mind of their residence. I suggest that the city of Maricopa implement a ban on sleeping in cars in public streets immediately. When can Maricopans expect to see some action on this front?
Walter Smith is a resident of Maricopa.[socialpoll id=”2363440″ path=”/polls/2363440″ width=”400″]