Lawn parking to stay illegal

mku@herald-leader.comSeptember 12, 2008 

  • In other city business Thursday

    ■ The Urban County Council unanimously gave final approval to setting the city's property taxes at the same levels as last year. The owner of a $150,000 house will pay the city $120 this year in property taxes, $238.50 for garbage service, $31.50 for street lights and $14.10 for street cleaning. The total Fayette County property tax bill for a $150,000 house is around $1,600. By setting the rates at the same level as last year, the city will have a projected $586,190 shortfall in property tax revenue.

    ■ The council also unanimously approved forming a task force to assist in determining the location and design of a new Urban County Government Center.

Parking cars on front lawns for University of Kentucky home football games will be illegal for the entire season.

Urban County Councilman David Stevens withdrew an amendment Thursday that would have allowed vehicle parking on lawns on the days of home football games.

That means that cars parked on front yards during Saturday's game against Middle Tennessee State will be cited by police.

"Officers will be in the area before game time. If they see violations and they can advise people, they will," said Lexington police Assistant Chief Steve Stanley. "However, after the game starts, the officers that were involved in traffic control will then patrol the areas, all areas around Commonwealth Stadium and we'll enforce the law as written."

In addition to withdrawing the amendment, Stevens referred the issue to the council's services committee and the city's town-and-gown commission for further study.

"We can go ahead and let them see what happens this year," Stevens said.

Parking on front yards is illegal in Lexington, but police have allowed it on game days in previous years because they didn't have the manpower for strict enforcement.

After years of looking the other way, the city announced last month that cars parked on front yards will be ticketed. In addition to the 80 to 100 officers on traffic control, at least 36 police officers and two code-enforcement officers will be patrolling neighborhood streets on game days.

In response, Stevens proposed the amendment that would make it legal to park on front yards during home football game days each year.

Stevens said he withdrew the amendment because it "raised a good deal of consternation in the community."

Many neighborhood residents are upset about the idea of making lawn parking on game days legal, Stevens said. "The feeling from the neighborhoods is that UK and the city is out to do them in. We're actually trying to help them."

Councilman Dick DeCamp, whose district includes the neighborhoods around UK where much of the yard parking occurs, said he was happy with Stevens' decision to refer the issue to a committee for further study.

The amendment to allow parking on lawns on game day was vague, DeCamp said.

It did not address issues such as whether lawn parking would be allowed on game days anywhere in Lexington or whether it was limited to areas around the university or whether it would apply to commercial properties or vacant lots, he said.

"The council was cavalier about putting it on the docket because he didn't even have a written amendment," DeCamp said. "It kind of went too far, too fast, and it does need more input."

David Bradshaw, who lives on Shawnee Place, said it was "a really wise step" of the council to study the issue further.

Shawnee Place, which appeared to have more cars parked on lawns than usual, "looked like one big parking lot" during last week's game against Norfolk State, Bradshaw said.

There might have been more cars than usual because police had been patrolling other streets so they drove over to Shawnee, Bradshaw said.

During the Norfolk State game, Lexington police issued more than 500 warnings for vehicles parked on lawns. More than 20 vehicles were cited for safety violations, including parking in front of a fire hydrant, in neighborhoods around Commonwealth Stadium. A few cars were towed for violations such as blocking sidewalks.

Reach Michelle Ku at (859) 231-1335 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1335.

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