A day after announcing increased police patrols on University of Kentucky football game days, the city announced that cars parked on lawns near Commonwealth Stadium will be ticketed, too.
The tighter parking enforcement will put a damper on the tailgating atmosphere and all of the game day festivities, said people who sell parking spaces on game days. It could also put many mom-and-pop parking enterprises out of business.
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”It's just a sad day,“ said Scott Brady, who sells parking spots at his Summit Drive home. ”We're just all trying to celebrate with the team, embrace the fans and help them out. It's going to be more of a traffic situation as all these folks drive circles around the stadium trying to find some place to park.“
On Thursday the city announced stepped-up enforcement efforts, including ticketing illegal street parking. In addition to 80 to 100 Lexington police officers on traffic control, at least 36 police officers and two code enforcement officers will be patrolling neighborhood streets on game days. The city also plans to do additional street sweeping in neighborhoods around the stadium.
For the last seven or eight years, Brady and his family have made $100 each game by selling 10 parking spots in their driveway and front yard.
With the increased enforcement, they'll have to scale back their operation to the six spaces in their driveway, Brady said. ”I don't want any of my friends and neighbors to get a ticket on a car just because they're trying to park closer to the stadium. That's not doing them any favors.“
Besides lawn parking, Lexington police also plan to cite cars parked in front of driveways and on the wrong side of the street.
Getting ticketed for parking on a front yard will be a shock to many people since Lexington police have traditionally ignored illegally parked cars on game day, said Mike O'Bannon, a UK football season ticket holder and a regular purchaser of a yard space. ”It's going to be a mess. There's so many private parking areas at individual homes.“
O'Bannon, who lives near Bardstown, said he might drive to Lexington on a non-game weekend to scout possible parking spots.
”I'll try to find a friend or somebody in the area that will let us park,“ he said.
The city has not comprehensively enforced the no parking in yards law on game days because of manpower issues, said Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Newberry. ”Now with increased police ... and code enforcement officers in the neighborhoods during games, we have the manpower to enforce it.“
The vehicle will be cited, not the resident at the property where the car is parked.
A parking ticket carries a fine of $15, but if drivers admit their guilt and pay the fine early, it's reduced to around $8, Straub said.
”After habitual violations on a single property, the property owner may be approached by the police and possibly cited,“ Straub said.
The city plans to distribute informational door hangers about the increased enforcement in the Elizabeth Street, Columbia Avenue, Aylesford Place, Scoville Road and Kastle Road areas.
To help offset the parking spaces that will be lost through the increased enforcement, the University of Kentucky will make a third parking garage — 600-space Parking Structure No. 6 at Virginia and Press avenues — available to fans for free.
Parking Structure No. 2 at Rose Street and Hilltop Avenue and Parking Structure No. 3 on Huguelet Avenue have been available to fans for free for several years, said Tony Neely, spokesman for UK athletics. ”We always promote it, but folks didn't take advantage of it ... In the past, there's usually been spaces available in those garages.“
About 2,100 free parking spaces will be available in those three garages, Neely said.
While some parking entrepreneurs may choose to stop selling spaces on their front lawns, UK senior Tony Burgess said he plans to continue selling the 20 backyard and four front yard parking spaces at his house.
If people want a front yard parking spot they'll be warned that their cars might be ticketed, Burgess said.
If the car is cited and the driver is really upset, he would probably refund the person $15 to pay for the ticket, Burgess said. ”We'll still profit $10 or $15 a car.“
Jay Patel, a UK senior who sells eight parking spaces at his Elizabeth Street house, said police have a lot more to do on game day than monitoring lawn parking.
”You've got way more people being intoxicated and doing bad things,“ Patel said. ”Is it really worth (police) checking on cars parked on lawns?“