Special Report: Kansas City parking problems exposed

Posted at 9:12 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 19:20:06-05

Kansas City is truly exploding. 

In nearly every part of the city, you can find new lofts, construction, big events too. 

But with more people, come more cars and a higher demand for those hard-to-find parking spots. Just ask Bob Joy. He says sometimes it feels like every spot is taken or reserved. 

“It’s not worth going [downtown] when you have to find a place to park,” Joy told 41 Action News. “Especially going to a particular restaurant. I avoid downtown altogether.” 

When it comes to parking spaces, 41 Action News uncovered several Kansas City businesses not following city rules. 

Reserved Parking Spaces 

Kansas City’s Public Works Department overseas parking for the entire city.

According to the department’s spokeswoman, Beth Breitenstein, anyone can park on city streets. 

“Restaurants are not allowed to reserve spaces as their own in the public right-of-way,” said Breitenstein. 

Signs placed on City Streets 

41 Action News caught a handful of restaurants leaving temporary signs on city streets, reserving parking spaces for their customers only. 

Manny’s Mexican Restaurant in the Crossroads has a sign in front of it’s door, reserving spots for carry-out orders. 

The restaurant’s general manager told 41 Action News off-camera, his customers are already struggling to find places to park due to the development in the Crossroads and putting a sign out is one way to help. He has also gone to the city’s Parking Policy Review Commission to ask for better enforcement for the timed parking spots surrounding his restaurant.  

Even though the city agrees street parking can be a challenge, city officials say private entities cannot reserve spots.  

“You can’t tailor it to one market segment. It can’t just be residential, it just can’t be retail. It has to be a combination and that’s where the challenges lie,” said Sean O’Byrne, chairman of the city’s Parking Policy Review Commission with the Downtown Council. 

Signs placed in Loading Zones 

Across town, 41 Action News discovered even more ‘reserved’ parking signs placed in loading zones.

On the plaza, Bo Lings, Jack’s Stack and Zoe’s Kitchen have all placed their own signs in loading zones, reserving the spaces for ‘pick-up customers’ only. 

Pizza 51 on Oak Street has placed similar signs in it’s loading zone. 

41 Action News spoke to the owner of Pizza 51 over the phone, who said he applied for the loading zone and pays a yearly fee. However, on the city’s loading zone application it clearly states “if a loading zone is established it must be used by anyone” and “may not be used as a parking place for private or company vehicles.” 

“Even without the high demand, even if there was nobody walking up and down the streets we wouldn’t want private use in a public space,” said Bruce Campbell, the city’s parking manager. 


While the Public Works Department oversees public parking in the city, the department does not have the authority to enforce city ordinances. 

“The Kansas City Police Department enforces any type of signing that they deem illegal,” said Breitenstein. "They check with us to check our regulations and at that point they contact our street and traffic division.” 

Those with KCPD’s Parking Control Enforcement told 41 Action News, if officers see private, reserved parking signs, they will ask the businesses to remove the signs from the street. KCPD’s Parking Control Enforcement told 41 Action News, if officers see private, reserved parking signs, they will ask the businesses to remove the signs from the street. 

There are no known penalties for leaving reserved parking signs on public roads, according to KCPD and the city’s public works department. 


The Parking Policy Review Commission is currently creating a valet permitting process and developing standards for valets.  

To hijack parking spaces on public-right-of-way streets, valet companies need to apply for temporary lane or street closures. 

“They will typically apply for a permit, either a lane closure permit or a street closure permit to run the valet,” said Campbell. “What that does is gives them the authority to control the space as outlined in the permit.” 

But a valet service’s authority only goes so far. 

When asked if valets can write tickets, Campbell answered “no, that does not mean writing tickets.” 

But 41 Action News found some valet services were, in fact, writing tickets. 

41 Action News obtained a ‘parking citation’ issued by Towne Park on January 1. Towne Park, is a valet service located on 14th Street in the Power and Light District. 

The citation demands that the driver send $25 to the valet service, for being parking on “private property.” The citation warns unpaid citations and continued violations will result in police ticketing, booting and/or towing. 

“I have advised them they cannot do this. They are not doing it now,” said Campbell. 

This week, 41 Action News left an unmarked car in front of Towne Park. This time, as Campbell said, no ticket was issued.x



Ariel Rothfield can be reached at

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