With the U.S. Open golf championship less than 15 weeks away, University Place city leaders are debating what to do to keep neighborhoods around Chambers Bay Golf Course from turning into a maze of pop-up merchants and paid private parking lots.
“We’re trying to prevent people from setting up shop, if you will, in our residential zones during the U.S. Open and creating a Puyallup Fair type situation,” said David Swindale, the city’s development services director. “We don’t want to see people on private property selling elephant ears, slushies or that kind of thing.”
City Council members on Monday night unanimously approved restrictions on street parking and traffic access around Chambers Bay during the June 15-21 event. But it might be harder for them to reach a consensus on how to regulate private property near the golf course.
They discussed a series of regulations at a study session Monday, including:
• Prohibiting people from offering event parking on their lawns for profit.
• Making it illegal to operate a food or merchandise stand on the streets around the course.
• Restricting door-to-door solicitations during the week.
They also looked at easing up on some limits by increasing the number of days people are allowed to stay in a recreational vehicle in a residential neighborhood without a permit.
The RV ordinance is designed to make it easier for people to stay with friends during the week. As long as the RV isn’t parked on the street, people could stay up to nine days without applying for a special permit from the city, as currently required.
A majority of council members appeared to support the regulations, based on initial comments. But council members Chris Nye and Javier Figueroa questioned whether they benefited the public.
Nye didn’t explicitly say he supported University Place residents using their lawns to make money on U.S. Open parking, but he took issue with the city trying to regulate private property rights.
“What we’re saying to a private owner of property is if they want to set up on that property we’re going to say ‘No’?” Nye asked.
Swindale said homeowners and their guests will be allowed to park on lawns temporarily since they can’t park on the street. But homeowners wouldn’t be able to put out a sign asking for money from U.S. Open patrons.
As for merchandise sales, Swindale said the city already regulates it in residential zones, but the proposed temporary regulations would suspend all sales during the golf tournament.
“What we’re trying to prevent is something that could be very disruptive to the neighborhood and the security in and around the course,” Swindale said.
Councilman Javier Figueroa questioned the food truck ban. People who live nearby are likely to walk around during the week to see the excitement and might want a hot dog or popcorn, he said.
Figueroa doesn’t want food stands on every lawn, but he supports offering a limited number of vendor licenses.
“I think we should be more proactive about how it can be done in a tasteful way and done to enhance the experience,” he said.
Councilwoman Caroline Belleci questioned whether the restrictions reach far enough.
The council will discuss the regulations again at an upcoming study session before voting on them. A date has not been set.