Clayton updates law to stop big rigs from parking in abandoned lots

It’s now illegal in Clayton County for truckers to park their big rigs in the parking lots that stores have closed or abandoned, such as former Waffle Houses or CVS locations.

County leaders earlier this month updated Clayton's parking codes to prohibit the practice in an effort to improve the south metro community's aesthetics and to steer drivers toward lots sanctioned for use by truck drivers.

“We currently have an ordinance to regulate parking of tractor-trailers in residential areas, but we don’t have one in the commercial areas,” Community Development Director Patrick Ejike told the Clayton County Commission. “We have been inundated with complaints from citizens about truck parking in vacant lots that are commercial.”

Parking for tractor-trailers has been an issue in metro Atlanta — one of the nation's busiest logistics routes — for years. Truckers say there are not enough legal places for them to park when they need to stop, which has forced them to be creative.

Studies say the situation will worsen as increasing consumer demand for next-day delivery of products puts more trucks on the roads. An Atlanta Regional Commissioner study in 2018 found parking supply to be particularly challenging along Interstate 285 and suggested solutions such as expanding existing lots, consider using brownfields or employing park-and-ride lots during non-peak hours.

“This is something citizens have been asking for for quite a while, Commissioner Sonna Singleton Gregory said of the new prohibition.

Ejike said code enforcers have responded to calls about the trucks parked in abandoned lots, but added: “We didn’t have any laws to back up the citation,” he said.

“This is an effort to manage the nuisance, if you will, of heavy trucks,” he said.

Tractor-trailers are allowed to park in the lots of businesses that are operating and with which the driver has business, Ejike said. But the county still wants those drivers to find parking at approved lots if they are going to be in the county for long periods.

"It doesn't give the county good aesthetics where you come to a place where you have commercial trucks parked all over the place," he said.