This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






State of Minnesota,





Reynold Jallen,



Filed July 12, 2005


Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. 4030597937



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Martin J. Costello, Russell J. Platzek, Katrina E. Joseph, Hughes & Costello, 1230 Landmark Towers, 345 St. Paul Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)


Dennis W. Strid, 7900 International Drive, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55425; and,


Bruce A. Olander, 111 South Broadway, Jordan, MN 55252 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N



Appellant challenges his conviction of the offense of parking a vehicle in a residential yard, in violation of a city ordinance.  He argues that the ordinance he was convicted under is unconstitutional because: (1) the city lacks authority to prohibit this use of his property; (2) the ordinance lacks a rational basis; (3) the ordinance violates art. IV, section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution; and (4) the ordinance is impermissibly vague under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Additionally, appellant argues that his truck had been modified for camping purposes so as to constitute a recreational vehicle, which is exempt from the prohibition.  Finally, he argues there was insufficient evidence to prove his truck was over the weight limit specified in the ordinance and that it was not a “recreational vehicle.”  We affirm.



On January 22, 2003, the City of Richfield gave to appellant an Environmental Health Violation Notice (EHVN) for having a car parked in a residential yard and having an inoperable vehicle parked in his driveway.  On June 10, 2003, appellant received a second EHVN, again referring to the inoperable vehicle, but not referencing the yard-parking violation.  On August 30, 2003, appellant received a third EHVN for both the inoperable vehicle and the yard-parking violation.  

After appellant’s three EHVNs, the Richfield Public Safety Department began issuing Notices of Non-Compliance.  Appellant received three additional Notices of Non-Compliance.  Each notice stated what the violation was for and when the next inspection would take place.  Each notice stated that “If the items have not been completed, a formal complaint will be submitted to the City Attorney or a citation will be issued.”  Each notice included a phone number for the Environmental Health Division to address any questions about the notice or violation.  Appellant did not remedy the situation and was given a formal citation on October 23, 2003.

On October 23 and 31, 2003,[1] the City of Richfield charged appellant with two counts of petty-misdemeanor ordinance violation for parking his truck in a yard area.  Appellant moved to dismiss the charges, claiming that his vehicle was exempt from the ordinance because it was a recreational vehicle.  On February 4, 2004, the district court denied that motion, finding that the appellant’s vehicle did not qualify under the recreational-vehicle exception.  On May 4, 2004, appellant brought a second motion to dismiss, arguing that the ordinance did not apply to him based on a grandfather clause in the Richfield City Zoning Code.  On May 28, 2004, the district court denied that motion, stating that the ordinance appellant was charged under was not part of the zoning code.  Finally, the district court found appellant guilty of violating ordinance 1305.27, subd. 5, of the Richfield City Code.  This appeal followed.



1.         Constitutionality of Richfield Ordinance 1305.27, subd. 5

            Appellant argues that the ordinance he was convicted under is unconstitutional.  The constitutionality of an ordinance is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo.  Hard Times Café, Inc. v. City of Minneapolis, 625 N.W.2d 165, 171 (Minn. App. 2001).  A municipal ordinance is presumed constitutional.  City of St. Paul v. Dalsin, 245 Minn. 325, 329, 71 N.W.2d 855, 858 (1955).  The party attacking the validity of an ordinance has the burden of proving that it is unconstitutional.  Id.

            The ordinance appellant was convicted under states that,

[n]o person may park or place any motor vehicle in the yard area of any lot within the city, except in established driveway areas as and parking areas permitted by this code; and locations where the parking and storage of recreational vehicles and equipment is permitted by this city zoning code.


Richfield City Code, section 1305.27, subd. 5.


            Here, appellant claims that Richfield City Ordinance 1305.27, subd. 5, is unconstitutional because (a) Richfield does not have the authority to regulate parking on private property; (b) the ordinance is not rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose; (c) the ordinance violates art. IV, section 17, of the Minnesota Constitution; and (d) the ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.

            a.         Richfield’s authority to regulate parking

            Appellant argues that the City of Richfield does not have the authority to regulate how he uses his private property for parking.  City councils have the power

to provide for the government and good order of the city, the suppression of vice and immorality, the prevention of crime, the protection of public and private property, the benefit of residence, trade, and commerce, and the promotion of health, safety, order, convenience, and the general welfare by such ordinances not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States or of this state as it shall deem expedient. 


Minn. Stat. § 412.221, subd. 32 (2004).  Additionally, city councils have the power to define nuisances and provide for their prevention by ordinance.  Minn. Stat. § 421.221, subd. 23 (2004).  And regulation of parking is within the municipality’s police powers.  State v. Hyland, 431 N.W.2d 868, 872 (Minn. App. 1988). 

Appellant claims that the only areas in which Richfield can enact ordinances in the regulation of zoned properties are adult-only businesses and the abatement of nuisances.  Appellant cites Minn. Stat. § 462.357 (2004) as authority for this claim.  But Minn. Stat. § 462.357 provides authority for municipalities to create particular zoning ordinances.  The district court determined that Richfield City ordinance 1305.27 is not a zoning ordinance.  Because the city has the authority to regulate for the good order and general welfare of the city, against nuisances, and because the regulation of parking is a power of the municipality, the City of Richfield has the authority to regulate parking.  Appellant does not meet his burden of proving that the ordinance is unconstitutional, and, thus, his claim fails.

b.         Rational relationship to a legitimate government purpose

Appellant argues that no rational relationship exists between Richfield city ordinance 1305.27 and a legitimate government purpose.  Rational-basis review involves a two-step process: the first step is identifying a legitimate governmental purpose, and the second step is determining whether a rational basis exists for the governmental body to believe that the legislation would further the purpose.  Graham v. Itasca County Planning Comm’n, 601 N.W.2d 461, 465 (Minn. App. 1999).  Under the rational-basis test, the challenged legislation need only be supported by any set of facts either known or that could reasonably be assumed.  Thul v. State, 657 N.W.2d 611, 617 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. May 28, 2003).  The burden of proof is on the opponent of the ordinance.  Id. 

Appellant advances one argument in support of this claim.  He suggests that this ordinance cannot be rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose because it “does not provide any guidance regarding parking on private residential lots which would insure the health safety and morals of the citizens of Richfield.”  However, respondent reasonably contends that an ordinance prohibiting parking on a lawn is “rationally related to the legitimate governmental purposes of maintaining a neat, attractive community, preserving the property values of the defendant’s and neighbors’ properties.”  If the reasonableness of an ordinance is debatable, courts will not interfere with the legislative discretion.  Id.   Therefore, appellant fails to prove that the ordinance is not related to a legitimate governmental purpose, and, thus, his claim fails.

c.        Ordinance violating art. IV, section 17, of the Minnesota Constitution

Appellant argues that Richfield City Ordinance section 1305.27 violates art. IV, section 17, of the Minnesota Constitution, which states that “no law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”  A municipal city ordinance is presumed constitutional.  Thul, 657 N.W.2d at 617. 

Appellant cites no authority to support his proposition that this portion of the Minnesota Constitution applies to a municipality’s ordinances.  The “one subject limit” is a constitutional limit on the Minnesota State Legislature and does not apply to a municipal ordinance.  Therefore, appellant’s claim that this ordinance is invalid based on art. IV, section 17, of the Minnesota Constitution is without merit.   

d.         Ordinance violating Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution

Appellant argues that Richfield City ordinance 1305.27 is vague and confusing and, thus, violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Vague statutes are prohibited under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Hyland, 431 N.W.2d at 871.  In order to satisfy due-process requirements, a criminal statute must define the offense with sufficient definiteness so that ordinary people will understand what conduct is prohibited and must be written so as not to cause arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement.  Id. (citing State v. Newstrom, 371 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1985)).  Caution should be exercised before declaring a statute or ordinance void for vagueness.  Getter v. Travel Lodge, 260 N.W.2d 177, 180 (Minn. 1977).  And vagueness must be judged in light of the conduct that is charged under the ordinance.  Thul, 657 N.W.2d at 618. 

            Appellant argues that he did not know which ordinance applied, that the exception to the ordinance for recreational vehicles is unclear, and he thought his truck qualified as a recreational vehicle.  Appellant begins his argument by referring to Richfield ordinance § 1320.03 and stating that it has not been expressly repealed by § 1305.27.  Appellant suggests that according to § 1320.03, he could legally park his truck in his yard.  This argument is without merit.  Richfield city ordinance § 1320.03 makes it unlawful for a bus designed to carry nine or more people, a tractor, a trailer, or a pickup truck having a capacity of one ton or more “to be parked or to stand continuously for more than two hours on any residence property or any public street in the city.”  This ordinance is not applicable to the case at hand, because it does not deal with parking vehicles in residential yards and it was not the ordinance appellant was convicted under. 

Appellant further argues that the ordinance is vague and confusing because of the recreational-vehicles exception.  The recreational-vehicles exception includes “slip-on campers” that are mounted into a pick-up truck.  Richfield City Ordinance § 1325.03.  However, in order to be included in the exception, the vehicle must be used for temporary living quarters by the owner while engaged in recreational or vacation activities.  Appellant claims that this is vague and confusing because his truck has a top on it and was not classified as a recreational vehicle.  Appellant fails to show why this court should find this ordinance unconstitutional.  The ordinance is very clear both in what conduct is prohibited and what exceptions will be made.  Therefore, because we cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt that the ordinance is invalid for any of the reasons appellant asserts today, appellant’s claim fails.  

2.         Sufficient Evidence to Convict Appellant

          Appellant’s final claim is that there was insufficient evidence to support the district court’s findings and his conviction.  In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, a reviewing court must determine whether the evidence on record, when viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit the fact-finder to reach the verdict it did.  State v. Harris, 589 N.W.2d 782, 791 (Minn. 1999).  We construe the record and evidence in favor of the verdict and must assume that the fact-finder believed the evidence supporting the verdict and disbelieved all contrary evidence.  State v. Folkers, 581 N.W.2d 321, 326 (Minn. 1998).   We apply the same standard of review in evaluating a sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim arising out of a trial to a jury or to the court.  State v. Cox, 278 N.W.2d 62, 65 (Minn. 1979). 

          Appellant argues that there is no evidence to sustain the findings of the district court.  Specifically, appellant suggests that there is no evidence that his truck is not a recreational vehicle.  He argues that his vehicle should qualify as a recreational vehicle under the exception because it has “storage shelves, carpeting, and curtained and louvered windows.”  Additionally, he points to his testimony that he kept sleeping bags and a lantern in the back of the truck.  The Richfield City Ordinance prohibits parking any motor vehicle in the yard area of any lot within the city, except in established driveway areas and parking areas permitted by the code.  § 1305.27, subd. 5.

The evidence in the record indicates that a pick-up truck, registered to appellant, was parked in the yard area of his home; that he was given numerous warnings to cure the situation, and that on October 23, 2003, the vehicle was still parked in the yard.  The district court found that the topper on appellant’s truck was not intended to be used for living quarters, and, thus, it did not fall into the exception for recreational vehicles.  Additionally, the mere fact that appellant chooses to keep sleeping bags in the truck does not automatically convert it into a recreational vehicle.  Therefore, sufficient evidence existed to permit the district court to convict appellant of parking his vehicle in his yard in violation of Richfield City Ordinance 1305.27, subd. 5.


*  Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1]The October 31, 2003 violation was dismissed because the community-service officer who issued the citation was no longer employed by the City of Richfield and had left Minnesota for employment in Georgia.