The University Place City Council unanimously approved a pair of ordinances Monday night aimed at increasing public safety during the U.S. Open this summer.
The council banned the use of drones from the skies above the city during the month of June; it also approved vehicle restrictions meant to protect neighborhoods closest to Chambers Bay Golf Course. The city estimates 4,600 homes will be affected by the vehicle restrictions.
The ban on unmanned aerial vehicles applies to all areas of the city of 31,500 people, but the purpose is to protect the golf course and its spectators, City Attorney Steve Victor said.
He noted, however, that Fox — the network under contract to broadcast the June 15-21 championship — will likely fly a drone or drones over the course for aerial photography. If the Federal Aviation Administration approves it, so will the city, Victor said.
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The drone ban was requested by the United States Golf Association and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The monthlong prohibition makes it possible for authorities to take legal action against violators.
Meanwhile, the council also approved a variety of restrictions on parking and street access during the U.S. Open.
Five people with questions about the restrictions had them answered by University Place Police Chief Mike Blair and Public Works and Parks and Recreation Director Gary Cooper.
Patty Ferguson is worried spectators will park outside her gated Sunset Beach neighborhood and then cut through on foot to access the course illegally. Even now, people sit outside the gate and wait for it to open, then they walk in, she said.
“My biggest concern is the railroad tracks there and the Amtrak trains that go through at 79 miles per hour,” she said.
Blair responded that Ferguson’s neighborhood will fall under the no-parking restriction during the U.S. Open, and that cars left on the roads nearby would be ticketed and towed. Neighbors should report people parking illegally, he said.
Councilman Javier Figueroa, who initially questioned parts of the vehicle plan when it was rolled out last fall, joined the other five council members who voted in favor of it Monday. The fact that council chambers weren’t crowded with people unhappy with the restrictions shows that the public was informed and content, he said.
The city plans to hold more public meetings and use other official channels to circulate the restrictions to affected property owners.