Teeing off on parking, traffic problems in advance of U.S. Open

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. -- In four months, thousands of golf fans will converge on University Place for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course. But it looks like they won’t be converging by car.

This week the University Place City Council agreed to a major parking ban affecting more than 3,000 homes around the golf course.

“It’ll be a circus,” said Christie Nelthrop, a neighbor who lives near the golf course. “Just like a circus.”

About 30,000 people a day will converge on this area during the event. Lots of neighbors are so worried about the parking, and congestion on the two-lane Grandview Avenue, that they are leaving town during the Open.

“It makes no difference, because I have no intention of being here,” said Nelthrop.

The city has approved a plan it believes will alleviate congestion, by eliminating or restricting 4,600 parking spots in the area.

Drivers, unless they live in the area, won’t be allowed inside certain zones near the course, and most street parking will be banned.

City planners say the number one reason is public safety.

“It allows emergency vehicles, and law enforcement to be able to come in and out of areas,” said Javier Figueroa, mayor pro tem of University Place.

Most neighbors aren’t complaining about the parking ban. They are used to the parking headaches on the weekends from golfers and park-goers.

“People do start parking down our street on the weekend and it causes jam-ups to Grandview and it gets pretty busy,” said Monal Leppell.

Neighbors also won’t be allowed to rent out their yards for parking during the event. Most of the visitors coming to the event will be doing so by shuttle buses.