Traffic, housing for 2015 U.S. Open dominate discussion at University Place meeting

University Place homeowners looking to capitalize on the 2015 U.S. Open at the Chambers Bay Golf Course by renting their homes to some of the sport’s best known players need to adjust expectations about a possible claim to fame or financial gain during the week-long event.

Will Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson stay in your home? Probably not.

Will you make enough money renting your house to send your firstborn to college? Probably not.

“Two-hundred and fifty people have contacted us — and we don’t need any more — that want to rent their house to Tiger Woods,” said Danny Sink, on-site championship director. “Players don’t want to be gouged with the price, and they want to be really close.”

Renting a home to some of the biggest names in golf was just one of the myths the United States Golf Association director dispelled Tuesday while addressing a standing room only crowd at the Pierce County Environmental Services building. The Pierce County Council held its regular meeting in University Place Tuesday so residents could hear from Sink about the impact the largest sporting event ever to be held in the county would have on the suburban city of 32,000 people.

While some local realtors are compiling lists of homes available for rent during the upcoming championship, Sink said it would be another six months or longer before any deals are made with players. He also noted that traditionally people attending the event stay in hotels in the region, although some people could choose to stay as far away as Portland, Oregon, and take the train up.

Despite efforts to make the lead-up to the tournament as smooth as possible, University Place residents, especially those next to the golf course, won’t be immune from the effects of preparation. The tournament is expected to draw 30,000 spectators a day plus volunteers and media for a total of 235,000 people by the end of the week.

“This is a huge event, we’re not going to stand up and say you’re not even going to notice we are here,” Sink said. “It is a seven-day event, and more than that for those of you that live and work in the community and make your home here.”

Neighbors of the course and regular visitors to the county-owned Chambers Creek Properties can expect to see work begin on site in March 2015. Golfers will see play reduced now until the championship that runs June 15-21, 2015. The course will close to the public Memorial Day weekend.

Initial work on site will be the construction of tented structures and temporary roads. The goal is to keep the walking trails, dog park and north and central meadows open as long as possible, Sink said. Because these areas will house the tents, they will need to be closed once construction is in full swing, he said. After the tournament the USGA will remain in the area until likely September, restoring the Chambers Bay properties to their pre-tournament state.

Transportation and traffic were the two issues that came up the most during public comment Tuesday night. The majority of people at the meeting live within 3 miles of the course and wanted to know if access would be limited to their homes. Yes, Sink said, but residents will have passes to allow them and any house guests past security check points.

“One-hundred and fifty-six people will park on site during the week of the championship and that will be the players,” Sink said. “Our message to most everyone is don’t expect to park near Chambers Bay.”

The USGA has already reached an agreement with the city of Lakewood to park 4,000 to 5,000 cars at 340-acre Fort Steilacoom Park and has a signed agreement with the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup to park up to 7,000 cars a day. It hopes to use more than 200 shuttles traveling from about 20 parking locations across Pierce County to bring people to the course. The organization is also working on an agreement with Sound Transit and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to run commuter trains from Seattle and other cities along the way to the event.

Despite trying to alleviate as much traffic as possible, Sink said people who live around the course will inevitably be inconvenienced.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. During that week of the championship and leading up to it, there’s going to be a lot of traffic around here,” Sink said. “But ultimately it’s one week. I can promise a year later you may even miss us, who knows.”

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