6

This is specifically in regards to parking sign law in Mesa, AZ.

The legal wording is

The owner or the agent of the owner of any private parking area shall be deemed to have given consent to unrestricted parking by the general public in such parking area unless such parking area is posted with signs as prescribed by this Section which are clearly visible and readable from any point within the parking area and at each entrance thereto.

I could not find a clarification of what "at the entrance" means. I can see two interpretations:

  1. Physically situated at the entrance.

  2. Clearly visible and readable from the entrance.

9

The answer is in the text:

[...] unless such parking area is posted with signs [...] which are clearly visible and readable [...] and at each entrance thereto.

I read this as an inclusive and: it needs to be both readable and also at each entrance, but it can be a different sign from those visible at each spot of the place.

1
  • 1
    Or, worded differently, there should be a sign at each of the entrances to the parking area, and there should be additional signs so that anywhere within the parking area you can see and read at least one of them.
    – jcaron
    Aug 17 '20 at 11:08
10

Because the ordinance does not say "and from each entrance", it cannot be interpreted to mean that the signs must both be visible and readable anywhere in the area as well as being visible and readable from the entrance. The use of distinct prepositions in the conjuncts means that the notice requirement can be satisfied by different signs: it's not that a sign has to have both properties.

2
  • both as in: Visible from everywhere within and at the entry; all signs need to satisfy the clearly visible and readable prong
    – Trish
    Aug 15 '20 at 19:40
  • But would it be satisfactory to only have one sign if it's visible from everywhere, or do you have to have a separate sign for each entrance? Aug 17 '20 at 13:02
8

Your question seems to be whether it's

posted with signs as prescribed by this Section which are (clearly visible and readable from any point within the parking area) and (at each entrance thereto).

or

parking area is posted with signs as prescribed by this Section which are clearly visible and readable from (any point within the parking area and at each entrance thereto).

The latter seems like the more reasonable interpretation. It requires the least parallelization, for one thing. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to read an ambiguity in the way the has the least effect. Since the latter interpretation would result in a smaller set of circumstances in which the owner shall be deemed to have given consent, this principle favors the latter interpretation.

3
  • There's a strong indication in 187 Ariz. 396 (footnote 5) that the latter interpretation would prevail.
    – JdeBP
    Aug 16 '20 at 12:52
  • 2
    There seems to be a grammatical issue with the latter reading: "visible and readable from at each entrance" is not grammatically correct English. What, if any, effect that may actually have on the legal interpretation of the law I'm not qualified to say. Aug 17 '20 at 6:47
  • 2
    @IlmariKaronen the opening parenthesis can just be moved in front of the word "from" to fix that - "parking area is posted with signs as prescribed by this Section which are clearly visible and readable (from any point within the parking area and at each entrance thereto)." Aug 17 '20 at 8:47
3

There are multiple methods of reading legal texts. A literal approach is common, but not always the most effective. This can be seen by the 3 previous answers, which all took a textual approach, but came to different conclusions. Indeed, the text is literally ambiguous.

Another common approach is to read the text in order to discover the intent of the lawmaker. That's a productive approach here. The lawgiver intends to protect the users of the parking lot against hidden charges. This interest is best matched by your second interpretation: a sign must be visible at each entrance, so that drivers know that parking is not unrestricted.

1
  • Excellent post. You might add that one could also argue based on the general purpose of the law. Purpose is not tied to legislative intent, so it can be considered even when there is no evidence for legislative intent. (Since this is a municipal ordinance, it may be very hard to get useful legislative history and thus intent.)
    – Just a guy
    Aug 17 '20 at 19:13

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