To the ire of some Oread residents, not only were tulips and daffodils sprouting in neighborhood lawns this spring, so were Hondas, Chevys and Toyotas.
Vehicles parked on front and side yards began littering the neighborhood landscape, ruining lawns and curbs and creating an eyesore for some residents, said Jennifer Brown, coordinator of the Oread Neighborhood Assn.
"It has a pretty debilitating effect on a yard," Brown said. "We were either seing a sea of cars in front yards, or mud and dirt when it rained."
Although the problem has plagued the neighborhood for years, it seemed to be spreading like dandelions. "Some people said it seemed like it had become a fad `Oh, just drive up to your front door and hop out,'" Brown said.
LAWRENCE CITY commissioners on Tuesday adopted an ordinance that would act as a deterrent in the neighborhood and wherever else in the city drivers don't hem to driveways or curbs.
The ordinance prohibits parking in front or side yard setback areas the area between the public right of way and structure unless the vehicle is on an parking surface or driveway specified by the city.
The ordinance gives police the power to ticket violating vehicles. Violations will cost $25 to $100.
Although parking in yards violates zoning codes, the only avenue for getting a vehicle off a yard in the past was to call city officials, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.
City officials would try to contact the property owner, often a landlord, who then would have to get in touch with tenants.
"IT WAS a cumbersome process," Brown said. "This way, it tickets the vehicle as opposed to the property owner."
Residents can't just spread a sack of gravel on their lawns and call it a driveway, said Price Banks, city planning director.
Vehicles must be parked on surfaces that meet requirements of city zoning codes, such as concrete or asphalt. The driveway also must stem from a slot in the curb called a curb cut approved by the city public works department.
The ordinace comes as a relief to Brown and ONA members. "It was what we wanted," she said. The problem was particularly bad on Tennessee Street between 14th and 17th streets, she added.
The ordinance may not please residents who make a habit of parking on their lawns.
IVAN HUNTOON, an Oread resident who parks his car on a dirt driveway alongside his house, said convenience was one reason he parks in his yard.
"It's been a lot more convenient, especially when the gas company was doing a lot of work out here," he said.
It also is a safety decision. "My car got hit out there by the curb last year," he said. "And there are a lot of weird people in this neighborhood."
The ordinance should go into effect by the end of this week, when it is tentatively scheduled to be officially published, according to Ray Hummert, city clerk.
Police plan to enforce the new law on a complaint basis "at least initially," Lawrence police Lt. Mike Hall said. He said he couldn't predict how police will enforce it after the public has time to learn about it and adjust.