Smile Politely

Urbana Car Parkers Beware

I recently had a meeting near Carle Hospital. I didn’t have enough change to satiate the parking meters for three hours, so I turned off of Lincoln Avenue, onto Hill Street and found a parking space on the street.

After the meeting, I returned to my car. As I approached my driver’s side door, I discerned an orange envelope beneath my wipers. “There is no way I have a ticket,” I said out loud. Sure enough, when I opened that little envelope, I found a fifteen dollar ticket for BLOCKING/OBSTRUCTING DRIVEWAY (within 5 feet of driveway entrance). I then yelled, “No f-ing way.”

I went around to the front of my car and noticed that the very front end of my car was approximately three feet from the entrance of a driveway. Technically I had broken the law, but I had no idea that it was a law anyway. I searched for a sign on the street and found none. I went out Lincoln Ave. and took 74E to Cunningham. I was looking all over the place for a billboard or some damn advertisement telling me that I couldn’t park within five feet of someone’s drive.

When I got back to my work, I called Urbana’s Finance department to ask a few questions. This is how the conversation went:

“Urbana City Finance.”

“Yes, this is Thomas Gould. I just found a ticket on my car for fifteen dollars for parking within five feet of someone’s driveway.”

“Yes, you will need to pay that fine.”

“Is there any use in disputing this?”

“You can if you would like.”

“I have to tell you, I’ve never heard of anything like this before. I’ve lived in four different cities and I’ve never had this problem. I mean, I was about three feet from their driveway.”

“Sir, you can’t park within five feet of someone’s drive in Urbana.”

“How the hell am I supposed to know that? There’s no sign posted and I sure as hell didn’t find a billboard welcoming me to this city with that caveat.”

“Sir, we don’t have to have our ordinances posted.”

“Why not?”

“Sir, have you read The Rules of the Road?”

“Yes, of course I have.”

“Well, then you would know that whenever you enter another municipality that you have to abide by their rules too.”

At this point I was about to walk over to the Finance office to defenestrate this young lady out on to Vine St., hopefully to be crushed by an emerging fire truck, but I took a deep breath instead. I had numerous things that I wanted to say to her and even more questions to ask, but it was pointless. She didn’t have to be a smart ass though.

I finally said to her, “Look, I know this is just your job and you must have to answer these questions all the time, but just be a human for once and tell me if you think this is fair.”

“Sir,” she said, “you have to pay attention to our rules. There is nothing more I can say.”

I hung the phone up on her. I was so frustrated and pissed off. I didn’t know what I could do.

Luckily I am able to write this cathartic article. I am also able to warn anyone traveling to Urbana, or any other city for that matter, to check all the rules of the municipality before parking, sneezing, eating, dancing or pooping. Know your rules. Know them or go live in Switzerland.

Here are some other parking rules in Urbana:

  • You can’t park in Lincoln Square Villlage for more than two hours at a time (that should help commerce thrive).
  • No parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
  • No parking within 30 feet of any intersection or crosswalk
  • No parking within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad grade crossing
  • Parking a vehicle in excess of 72 consecutive hours on any street in Urbana is prohibited (if you go on vacation, park your damn car in the yard)
  • Motorcycles must be parked parallel to the curb (hint: there isn’t anything mentioned about scooters, so go nuts)
  • Vehicles parked more than 12” from the side of a curb are in violation (bring a ruler with you as well)
  • All City of Urbana parking lots are head-in-only parking

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