(a)   Abutting owners. The property owner abutting the parking strip shall maintain the parking strip in a safe and well-kept condition. For purposes of this chapter, the parking strip is the area along the public streets and avenues between the curb line (or edge of the roadway if no curb line is present) and the sidewalk line (or property line if no sidewalk is present).
   (b)   Plant material. The parking strip shall be covered with plant material, including turf or native grasses, cultivated flowers, wildflowers, fruits, and vegetables except the following plant material is restricted or prohibited as follows:
      (1)   Plantings must be maintained at a height of no more than three feet from the top of the curb, or if no curb is present, three feet high from the edge of the street, except as provided below.
      (2)   Plants with thorns, spines, or other sharp, rigid parts are prohibited.
      (3)   Shrubs, either evergreen or deciduous, or other woody deciduous plants are prohibited.
      (4)   Plant material shall not be allowed to overhang or encroach upon the sidewalk, curb, or street.
      (5)   Trees are allowed in parking strips to the extent provided by § 94.038, and rules promulgated thereunder.
      (6)   Parking strips shall be kept free of noxious weeds, including both state and county declared noxious weeds.
      (7)   Turf grass shall be controlled so it does not exceed eight inches in height as provided in § 150.096, part 302.4, of the Code of Ordinances.
      (8)   A three-foot radius clear space shall be maintained around the circumference of fire hydrants, except as otherwise required or approved. Within this clear space, planting heights shall not exceed eight inches in height.
   (c)   Other landscaping material. Landscaping other than plant material is discouraged in the parking strip. Abutting property owners shall not use asphalt pavement, concrete, boulders, gravel, and other materials in the parking strip, except for the following materials:
      (1)   The parking strip should have sufficient topsoil depth to support vegetation including highly organic permeable soils which would allow deep rooted plants to grow and enhance tree growth.
      (2)   Wood mulch may be used in the parking strip, limited to use as a water conservation erosion control measure around plants. Wood mulch shall not otherwise be used in the parking strip as a general landscaping feature due to its tendency to wash offsite into nearby gutters and waterways during heavy rain events. Non-biodegradable mulch shall not be used in the parking strip.
      (3)   Landscaping pavers, edging and rock mulch, consisting of one to three inch nominal size rocks may be used in up to one quarter of the parking strip, but shall not be installed in such a manner as to spill onto the street or sidewalk and shall be installed flush with the adjacent sidewalk or curb to prevent trip hazards.
   (d)   Landscaping permits. Notwithstanding the restrictions and prohibitions in subsection (c) above, installation of the following items in the parking strip is allowed if permitted by the city engineer:
      (1)   Concrete splash guards adjacent to arterial and major collector streets, including installation of concrete in the entire parking strip when the width of the parking strip is five feet or less. Such concrete splash guards shall be stamped with decorative pattern and/or colored a contrasting color to distinguish it from the sidewalk. In parking strips over five feet in width, a concrete splash guard of up to three feet in width may be constructed adjacent to the curb.
      (2)   Rock mulch, edging, and landscaping pavers in excess of a quarter of the parking strip or additional use of concrete in the parking strip may be permitted in small, isolated or difficult to maintain areas.
   (e)   Restoration. If the city or its contractor engages in construction or maintenance activities in the right of way and the city or its contractor damages materials in the parking strip such that restoration is required, the restoration will be limited to turf grass sod or seed. Restoration or replacement of other landscape enhancements (plants other than turf grass, other landscaping material, or materials authorized by the city engineer) are the responsibility of the property owner. Similarly, the city is not liable for such landscape enhancements if they are damaged by city during street maintenance, snow removal, snow storage operations, utility maintenance, emergency operations, or other activities.
   (f)   Structural encroachments. Structural encroachments and mailboxes in rights-of-way are restricted as follows:
      (1)   Structural encroachments. Unless approved by the city engineer, retaining walls, fences, steps, boulders, and other similar structural encroachments in parking strips are prohibited because they create safety hazards, limit access to sidewalks from the street, and obstruct and increase the cost and difficulty of installing and maintaining public improvements.
      (2)   Mailboxes and cluster box units. New installation or replacement of mailboxes is limited to mailboxes installed on breakaway supports including a) 4" x 4" wooden post, b) 2" diameter steel or aluminum piping, or c) other breakaway supports approved by the city engineer. Installed cluster box units must be a model or type approved by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Placement of mailboxes and cluster box units shall be according to USPS guidelines. Any mailboxes that do not meet these standards are encroachments. Neither the city nor its contractors hold liability for damage to nonconforming mailbox installations and any payments to replace damaged mailboxes is limited to the price of a standard mailbox and approved breakaway support.
      (3)   Liability. As part of the public right of way, the city uses the parking strip area for public improvements and the city may remove or require encroachments to be removed. The city is not liable for repair or replacement of any encroachments in the parking strip or other parts of the right of way if such items are damaged by city activities during street maintenance, snow removal, snow storage operations, utility maintenance, emergency operations, or other activities.
(1992 Code, § 38-12) (Ord. 37-03, passed 5-5-2003; Ord. 22-16, passed 4-5-2016)