Parking space near fire hydrant puts drivers on the spot

I need to ask what may seem to be a silly question. But it is bugging me, so I hope you can help. I was looking for street parking on West Eighth Street near the Jackson County Jail the other day and noticed a fire hydrant right next to a vacant parking space.

There was no red paint on the curb, and the adjacent sign did not restrict parking. In fact, there was nothing to signify one should not park there. But I was taught it was illegal to park in front of a fire hydrant. So I didn't take that space.

I drove by again the next day and there was a car parked in that space. And there was no ticket on the windshield. So, I'd like to know what the law says. Is it allowable to park in front of any hydrant? Just this hydrant, and not others? Is this one inoperable? What gives?

— Gladys G., Central Point

Goodness gracious, Gladys. Good eyes. And may we just say, your questions created quite the amusing email exchange between the city's public works department and its police department.

We at the Since You Asked Who Parks Where Department took your queries first to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau. The kindly officer assured us it remains illegal to park in front of a fire hydrant or within 10 feet of one.

"It's under municipal code 6.330, section 10," Budreau said, adding the section title is "Prohibited Parking."

Budreau then promptly punted this parking potato to Cory Crebbin, Medford's public works director.

Crebbin identified the hydrant, on the south side of Eighth Street about 200 feet west of Oakdale, as hydrant No. 5141. He also noted there is a one-hour parking sign right in front of it, and that no markings identify it as prohibited parking.

Crebbin then concurred with Budreau that state law is quite clear in prohibiting parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, adding no special markings are required.

Crebbin then acknowledged you had made a good point, and had sharp eyes, Gladys.

"Your SYAer had a good point — there were parking spots painted (the white crosses) in front of this particular hydrant. I think they were right not to park there, because those parking stall marks do not trump the state law," Crebbin wrote.

Crebbin said your questions caused those marks to be changed from crosses to T's to eliminate the parking spots in front of that hydrant.

"Sometimes someone asks the right question," Crebbin said. "In our defense, this hydrant is back in the grass; not in the sidewalk like the others. But the state law is clear on no parking within 10 feet of a hydrant."

Finally, in answer to your notation that there is no red paint on the curbs, Crebbin said the city does not paint curbs in front of fire hydrants except in the downtown core, at the police department's request.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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