University Place bans event lawn parking, food trucks during US Open
No food trucks or event parking on lawns around Chambers Bay golf course will be allowed in University Place during the U.S. Open in June.
Still up for debate: the number of recreational vehicles per acre that will be allowed during the week-long golf tournament.
The University Place City Council approved a series of policies Monday night that would prohibit these commercial activities in all residential zones from June 15-21. The city will target the neighborhoods around the golf course.
Private property owners will be banned from offering parking for a price or places for food vendors or merchants to set up. Violators could face a $250 fine.
These activities would interfere with public safety and the USGA’s transportation plan, the council concluded.
One current policy that will be relaxed, however, is the city’s normal prohibition on lawn parking. That will be lifted during the week of the Open because temporary rules will restrict street parking in some areas.
The council also agreed to extend the amount of time people can stay on private property in an RV during the week of the event. Current code requires a permit for visits longer than five days. The council would like to see that extended to nine days around the tournament.
Councilman Chris Nye, a defender of property rights, opposed the bans on food trucks and parking sales.
But city officials say that preventing citizens from selling lawn space for event parking isn’t taking away their rights.
“Paid parking is a commercial activity. Commercial activities like these are not currently permitted in residential neighborhoods,” said David Swindale, UP’s Development Services director. “It’s all part of not only creating a more efficient transportation plan, but also creating the type of experience the USGA wants for their spectators.”
City regulations already prohibit commercial food vendors in residential neighborhoods, but city staff recommended beefing up the code to make it more clear that they would not be allowed during the U.S. Open.
Councilman Ken Grassi opposed the ban on food trucks, but didn’t give a reason.
The one proposal on which the council couldn’t reach a consensus Monday was the appropriate number of RVs to allow on residential properties during the golf championship.
City staff recommend allowing up to six RVs per acre, assuming people staying in the vehicles don’t violate temporary parking restrictions and are staying as guests of neighborhood residents.
The proposed restrictions would also prohibit RVs from running generators; they would have to plug into a home’s electrical system instead.
Councilwoman Caroline Belleci questioned if six vehicles would be too many, citing concerns about fire hazards caused by overloaded electrical circuits. She also doesn’t want to see residential neighborhoods transformed into RV parking lots.
“It’s not only the experience for the golfers that come to enjoy the event, but it’s also the experience for the neighbors around the event,” she said.
Nye, on the other hand, asked whether six vehicles per acre would be enough.
“We’re not talking Woodstock. We’re talking half a million dollar rigs that are coming to our community to enjoy themselves,” he said.
He proposed the council change the ordinance to allow up to 12 RVs per acre. His motion failed to gain consensus, but the council agreed to continue the discussion at its next meeting. City staff will return with alternatives that would increase how many vehicles are allowed.
The next UP Council meeting is April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at 3715 Bridgeport Way West.