‘No parking’ signs going up in neighborhoods near Lawrence schools


Signs have started going up in neighborhoods around Lawrence schools, warning that anyone parking there who isn’t a resident will be ticketed.

It’s the city’s response to a growing problem of parents using those neighborhoods to drop off and pick up their children from school, rather than waiting in the established line at the school.

Thomas Casey is the HOA president for Watson Farms near Fall Creek Valley Middle School. He said the problem started around three years ago.

“Some parents have decided that they don’t want to wait in line at the school for pickup, so they’ve been parking in our streets, blocking our driveways,” he said. “None of those people live in our neighborhood. There has been property damage (and) physical fights between parents jockeying for position.”

Casey said the problem has gotten worse over the past few years, with more and more parents using the neighborhood as a drop-off zone, and more parents driving their kids to school rather than sending them on a bus. He said some streets in the neighborhood already had a bit of a parking crunch, so the added cars during school pickup and drop-off times were making the situation much worse.

Casey added that it’s a safety concern for the kids who have to cross busy roads to get to the neighborhood from the school. And once they’re in the neighborhoods — because they’re kids — they’re taking shortcuts.

“Kids are walking through yards and through (areas with) retention ponds,” he said. “Or (they encounter) a dog on an electric fence. We’ve had two dog attacks behind my home. One kid got his leg mangled.”

Neighbors petitioned the city to take action, and last fall the Lawrence Common Council approved an ordinance restricting parking in certain neighborhoods throughout the city to residents and approved visitors only. Signs recently started going up in Watson Farms, Casey said, and the city confirmed that it’s in the process of placing signs in various affected neighborhoods.

The ordinance specifically targets vehicles “stopping, standing and parking within 2,000 feet of a school.” It will be enforced between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays while school is in session.

The ordinance allows temporary parking for taxis, ride-share vehicles and delivery vehicles, and residents and their visitors can request parking permits from the city to avoid getting a ticket.

Lawrence Deputy Mayor David Hofmann said in an email that the city will work with the homeowner associations to determine the need for parking permits.

“Under no circumstances will residents in the affected area where the signs are placed (nor any of their visitors) receive a ticket related to this new ordinance, nor will they be required to pay for a parking pass,” he said.

Hofmann said that since this is a new law, enforcement initially will be in the form of warnings.

“Our goal is not to fine and ticket,” he said in an email. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for the residents in the nearby neighborhood who are being unfairly and negatively affected by this practice of drop-offs and pick-ups. The school is the place for that. Nobody wants the street in front of their home to look like a traffic jam twice a day. If, after a reasonable amount of time, the problem persists by drivers who knowingly and intentionally violate the ordinance, then a ticket might be the result. Each situation will be unique.”

Casey said he doesn’t want warnings. He wants violators to be ticketed right away.

“If they get a warning, they’ll just come back,” he said. “The school has a nice, organized line with cones, and people can pick their kids up there.”