The street is still public, but at least a couple of the parking spaces on it essentially will be private.
Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday approved a new six-month pilot project that will create a “residents-only parking zone” on a congested portion of Edgehill Road near Kansas University.
But how the city defines resident is important — it won’t include the more than 100 fraternity or sorority members who live on houses along Edgehill.
The project drew objections from fraternity and sorority members who said the new parking system would discriminate against them.
“General taxpayers pay to have the roads maintained, and I think all general taxpayers ought to be able to use the roads,” said William Murfin, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity at 1621 Edgehill.
Ultimately, commissioners ended up siding with Steven Watts, a resident who lives year-round in a home along Edgehill.
“There is simply nowhere to park on Edgehill,” Watts said. “I think this is a reasonable compromise.”
The pilot project will involve installing “Resident Parking Only” signs on 50 feet of street on the north side of Edgehill Road, just east of Louisiana Street. The special parking area will be in front of Watts’ home at 1649 Edgehill and a separate property at 1647 Edgehill that is owned by Robert and Elaine Brewer, according to county property records.
Under the plan approved, the city would issue permits only to the property owners at 1647 and 1649 Edgehill, in essence, making it legal only for those property owners or their guests to park in those two on-street parking spaces.
The decision was new territory for the city. The city has created no-parking zones on public streets before, but the idea of limiting who can park on a street based on where they live is new. The idea created some concern among commissioners.
“I don’t think students from the University of Kansas who live here from August to May deserve to be treated like second-class citizens,” said City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer. “If this was the other way around, I think the residents who live there would be outraged if we were talking about giving permits only to students.”
But ultimately commissioners unanimously agreed to the pilot project, after the request was reduced from a 100-foot area to a 50-foot parking area.
Mayor Mike Dever said the two residences — which both have some off-street parking available on their properties — deserve to have reasonable access to parking spaces in front of their houses.
“This isn’t about punishing anybody,” Dever said. “It is about letting somebody who lives on this street freely enjoy their property.”
Commissioners said they understand residents in other neighborhoods may request similar type of resident-only parking areas for their neighborhoods. But commissioners said they thought this area was fairly unique in that the two houses virtually are surrounded by sorority and fraternity houses.
But Dever said a larger issue on parking near the university is likely to emerge in coming months. He said he wants the city to at least discuss the idea of creating a permit parking system for the Oread Neighborhood.
He said he could envision a system that would deter people who live outside of Oread from driving into the neighborhood and using the neighborhood’s on-street parking as a free way to park near the university.
Other commissioners, however, did not weigh in on that topic Tuesday night.