When Prairie Village resident Paul Mizik bought his 1977 Ford F-150 early last summer, it was an eyesore. Rust had eaten through large chunks of the bed. The body was covered in dents and scratches. But Mizik, an electrical engineer by trade, had purchased the pickup as a project vehicle, and set to work in his garage sanding down parts of the exterior. He combed the junkyard for replacement body panels.
By September, the restoration was complete, and by just about any measure, the result was a truck far more aesthetically pleasing than the original, with all the rust gone and the cab painted a shiny kelly green.
But under a change to the city’s vehicle regulations passed in January, Mizik won’t be permitted to park the truck outside his house, even though the unrestored original would still be permitted.
Mizik replaced the original bed of the truck with a flatbed. Prairie Village’s updated local traffic regulations define “pickup trucks that do not have the traditional pickup bed and side walls” as non-passenger vehicles, and prohibit them from being stored in driveways and sidestreets.
“The thing is if I had seen this coming eight months ago I wouldn’t have swapped the flatbed on there,” Mizik said, noting that finding a traditional bed that would have fit the original frame would have been difficult and expensive. The flatbed cost around $500.
The changes to the city’s local traffic regulations came as the police department and city administration sought to update language governing trucks, recreational vehicles and buses that had fallen out of date. The definition of a permissible truck that was on the books actually made it illegal to park and store a “half-ton pickup,” like a Ford F-150 or a Chevrolet 1500, in the city because the city’s definition was based on payload capacity. As technology has improved, the payload capacity of such smaller pickups grew and grew to surpass the 1,500-pound payload limit used in the city’s code. (The police department had not been actively enforcing the provision).
The new code removed the weight restriction as part of the definition of truck, but added the provision about the “traditional pickup bed and side walls” as a way to target “true large trucks.”
Though he’s frustrated by the need to find a new storage solution for the truck, Mizik, who rents a room in the house near the 7600 State Line shopping center from the friend who owns it, said he does understand the city’s desire to maintain property values.
“I only rent, so I’m not invested in the neighborhood like the homeowners are, so I can see their point,” he said. “At the same time, we live right across the street from the Hy-Vee loading docks, so you’ve got semis parked there all times of night. Seems like it’s kind of odd my truck isn’t legal.”
Assistant City Administrator Kate Gunja said the city’s codes enforcement agent had noticed Mizik’s truck during an inspection on another issue on the street, and brought it to Mizik’s attention as a courtesy. The new regulations will go into effect July 1.
“We’re working right now, as we see these items, just as a courtesy to let residents know,” she said. “We want to get communication out to residents.”
Gunja stressed that the new code didn’t prohibit commercial vehicles. The city’s code still allows work vans, like the kind that might be used by an electrician or a plumber, to be stored in driveways and streets in the city.