School zone patrol

Meridian Police Officer Adnan Rudan writes a ticket while patrolling a school zone in August 2014.

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It is now illegal in Meridian to park within 10 feet on either side of a mailbox.

Meridian City Council on March 23 passed the ban, which makes parking too close to a mailbox between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., except on federal holidays — when mail isn’t delivered — a finable offense.

Councilman Joe Borton first brought the ordinance forward in response to complaints that Meridian residents with limited mobility weren’t always receiving prescription deliveries because their mailboxes were boxed out by cars. Despite concerns from council members that the ban will squeeze already cramped street parking, the ordinance passed 3-1, with Councilman Luke Cavener dissenting and Councilwoman Jessica Perrault absent for the vote.

Cavener on multiple occasions worried the rule would be “weaponized (by) neighbors who don’t get along.”

“Ten feet on both sides of the mailbox is just too much for me,” he added.

Typical U.S. Postal Service delivery trucks are 14.5 feet long and would have to pull in and out of a 20-foot gap when the new ordinance is followed, City Code Enforcement Supervisor Lacy Ooi said earlier this month. That led proponents to draw a line in the sand where they did.

During a brief public hearing, Meridian resident Thad Butterworth was the sole testifier. He called the ban on parking in front of mailboxes “government overreach.” He also said he had amicably resolved issues with neighbors when their cars obstructed his mailbox in the past.

“It did not require laws. It did not require more fines. It did not require handing over more power to the government. We really have to be careful in this time to not continue to have any more overreaching government mandates,” Butterworth said.

Councilman Brad Hoaglun responded, “We don’t want to have a government overreach. We want people to resolve the problems first. But there are times you get people who don’t want to follow laws and could care less about their neighbors.”

In his dissent, Cavener also cast doubt on the scale at which people miss out on prescription deliveries, arguing the bulk of medications aren’t delivered through the Postal Service and are dropped off at recipients’ doorsteps.

Nationally, around 4.9% of prescriptions came through the mail in 2019, though that’s not accounting for a marked upswing in mail orders during the pandemic. While 45% of mailed prescriptions are specialty drugs like injections that USPS doesn’t handle, it’s unclear the degree to which pharmacies rely on the Postal Service for the rest of deliveries, POLITICO reported in August last year.

Councilwoman Liz Strader argued even if a minority of medications go through USPS, ensuring deliveries are completed — the Postal Service won’t deliver to blocked mailboxes — is worth potential downfalls of the ordinance.

Code enforcement plans to issue warnings on first offenses, Ooi previously said.

The city’s goal will be “to educate,” Ooi continued Tuesday, but “without the code on the books, we don’t have the ability to ask people to” move their cars.

Blake Jones covers Kuna and Meridian for the Idaho Press. You can reach him at bjones@idahopress.com and follow him on Twitter @jonesblakej.

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