Parking-enforcement lawsuit heard in court
“Objection — irrelevant.”
“I would sustain that.”
That dialogue — or something close to it — was heard repeatedly between South Lake Tahoe City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo and Judge Jerald Lasarow in a hearing Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court.
DiCamillo was facing off against Gary Wyles, owner of the Cowboys & Indians shop at Heavenly Village, who contends that city-contracted parking enforcement across the street at the Raley’s-anchored Village Center is hurting his business.
“Hundreds” of people have been prevented from shopping at Cowboys & Indians because of perceived harassment by the parking patrol at the Village Center, Wyles said during Friday’s hearing.
Lodging more than a dozen objections during the approximately two-hour hearing, DiCamillo stifled much of Wyles’ efforts to detail his position.
Most of the objections were raised due to the relevance of Wyles’ questions to the case, and the vast majority were upheld by Lasarow.
Friday’s hearing was the second go-around on Wyles’ parking enforcement case.
In July, Wyles won his case in small claims court against South Lake Tahoe City Manager David Jinkens and High Sierra Patrol President Patrick Brennan, who were ordered to pay Wyles a total of $170. The case was appealed to Superior Court.
Lasarow hopes to make a decision on the appeal by the end of this week.
High Sierra Patrol is contracted by the city to enforce parking at the Village Center, which sits directly across the street from Cowboys and Indians. Parking for customers of Cowboys and Indians and other Heavenly Village businesses is provided at the city’s parking garage, which charges $1.50 per half hour of parking. Some Heavenly Village shops, as well as the movie theater, provide parking validation.
On Friday, Wyles served as his own attorney, calling to the stand Brennan, Jinkens and Kenneth Carrigon of Wines on the Lake in Heavenly Village, but much of his questioning was thwarted by DiCamillo, the city attorney.
Wyles then presented his arguments to Lasarow directly.
Wyles questioned High Sierra Patrol’s authority to write citations and the legality of signs informing people of the parking restrictions during the appeal.
Lasarow questioned whether Wyles even had grounds for a case and several times referenced a private property owner’s right to enforce parking restrictions on their property.
“I’m not sure why you feel that is a threat,” Lasarow said at one point.
Lasarow said efforts by High Sierra Patrol to inform people of parking restrictions at the shopping center seemed more like a courtesy than harassment.
DiCamillo did not cross-examine witnesses called by Wyles and did not call any witnesses of her own, opting instead to provide the judge with written arguments outlining the city’s position about the parking enforcement.
After reviewing documents submitted by both sides as evidence, the judge will make a ruling on the case.