City's growing pains create parking nightmare for residents, business owners

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The City of Kansas City, Mo., rolled out updated parking regulations and notified residents about increased enforcement that will affect downtown motorists. The City Council approved several traffic ordinance changes last week due to increased activity, residents and construction in downtown Kansas City.

But for some small business owners like Steve Fortner, the owner of Steve’s Floral Shop, the new rules come at a bad time for residents and businesses dealing with a downtown traffic and a parking nightmare.

"There's no place to park. My customers either have to go around to the back of the building or park in the paid parking lot next door. With the traffic and the streets configured different ways now, it’s just hard for people to drop off and pick up," Fortner said.

The recently-approved regulations limit the time drivers can park in passenger and property loading zones and require use of emergency flashers for the duration of loading or unloading. Drivers are required to leave most passenger loading zones within 10 minutes, although some zones are identified as three-minute passenger loading zones. Individuals loading or unloading property are required to leave loading zones within 30 minutes.

"There's a lot going on downtown right now and a number of challenges due to construction," Parking Manager Bruce Campbell said. "We hope that visitors, business owners and residents of downtown Kansas City will continue to work with us to keep roads accessible." 

The regulations also prohibit parking within eight feet of a streetcar track or any public transit station, including bus stops and streetcar stations. Motorists found in violation of these regulations may be towed and fined as much as $500.
"We want to help motorists learn how parking will be affected by the streetcar now to mitigate potential parking issues when it starts operating," Councilman Russ Johnson said.

Police will begin enforcing these new regulations immediately. As the city cracks down on drivers, Fortner hopes it won’t drive customers away.

"When they were renovating the Sprint Center it was a mess down there, but not as bad as it is now. It hurts small businesses. People are not going to come downtown anymore. It’s going to drive more people to go out to the suburbs and do what they have to do down there," he said.

But the city’s Public Works Director Sean Demory says Kansas City must work through this challenging period.

"Right now, we're dealing with growing pains. Kansas City handles growing pains very well," Demory said. 

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