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Parking saga continues: After deli owner wins ticket dispute, Mason City files appeal
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Parking saga continues: After deli owner wins ticket dispute, Mason City files appeal

Kiroff - parking ticket 2

A Mason City transit bus passes in front of Pete Kiroff's truck as it is parked in front of his deli, Pete's Kitchen, on Sixth Street Southwest.

Pete fought the law, and Pete won. At least for now.

The City of Mason City will head to court for a second time over a $15 parking ticket. But it's not the 15 bucks they're worried about. According to City Administrator Aaron Burnett, it's a safety issue.

Pete's Kitchen ruling

Pete's Kitchen owner Pete Kiroff waits on a customer ordering takeout from the deli over the lunch hour on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, a magistrate judge ruled in favor of Pete Kiroff, who received a ticket last summer while parked in front of his well-known deli, Pete’s Kitchen, located on Sixth Street Southwest.

Kiroff said he'd parked his truck every day the same way he always had, with the passenger-side wheels up over the short curb that hugs the walkway. And so did nearly all of his customers, especially since the construction of "quiet zone" barriers at the railroad crossing immediately next to the deli.

"With the crossing posts there, it creates a problem," Kiroff said. "If those hadn't been installed, there would be no issue with anyone parking in the street."

When Kiroff was ticketed for parking that way, he argued that if people didn’t park over the curb, with the railroad barriers there, the traffic lane on that stretch of road was too narrow for other cars to safely pass through, noting a city transit bus had even once struck a vehicle that was parked fully in the road.

So, Kiroff fought the ticket, taking it all the way to a jury trial. Though the proceeding was ultimately heard only by a judge, Kiroff made his case, presenting evidence that included photos of vehicles parked wheels-up by mail carriers and law enforcement officers who'd stopped at the deli to grab lunch.

Pete's Kitchen parking 1

Vehicles can be seen parked partially over the curb along the boulevard in front of Pete's Kitchen on Sixth Street Southwest over the lunch hour on Wednesday.

Judge Rolf Aronsen agreed with Kiroff and cited that city code itself allowed for vehicles to park on the boulevard if it prevented traffic disruptions.

Though the code does not allow for regular parking on a boulevard, Burnett said he believes the ruling will encourage others to park over the curb, presenting a hazard to those using adjacent sidewalks. 

As listed in the Mason City code library, section 9-10-1 defines various areas parking is forbidden, including sidewalks and "on the parking area of any street or between the outside edge of any privately owned property and the curb line or traffic portion of a street," except for cases in which a driver parks in such a way as to prevent traffic-flow issues. 

"We obviously believe our original position is the correct one," Burnett said of the court case. "We'd like to see the ruling overturned for the sake of pedestrian safety."

When asked what solutions the city would put forth in cases like Kiroff's, where the road was too narrow for traffic to pass safely, Burnett said he would prefer not to delve further into ongoing litigation.

Kiroff - parking

Pete Kiroff displays his original parking ticket while standing next to his vehicle as it is parked in front of his deli, Pete's Kitchen, on Sixth Street Southwest.

The city has spent about $370 on attorney fees for the case, to Kiroff's over $1,000, but Kiroff says it's been worth it.

"It's about my customers, so I'd definitely do it all again," Kiroff said. "I won -- I proved my point, and that's all I wanted to do from the beginning."

No court date for the appeal has been set as of Tuesday evening.

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Lisa Grouette is a Photographer and Reporter for the Globe Gazette. You can reach her at 641-421-0525 or lisa.grouette@globegazette.comFollow Lisa on Twitter @LisaGrouette


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