WICHITA, KAN. — In an effort to cut drunken driving and
smooth the traffic flow in the downtown bar district,
especially on busy weekend nights, the city of Wichita is
planning to establish three limousine loading zones on
First and Second streets and Douglas Avenue.
The fine for motorists who park in those zones is proposed
to be $100 – the highest penalty Wichita has for illegal
parking and previously reserved only for those who violate
handicapped parking spaces.
Wichita development assistance director Terry Cassady said
city officials are proposing the high fine "to put some
teeth in this and ensure compliance."
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan soon.
Most expressed support for the plan during a recent
workshop. Some, in fact, wanted it to be even tougher,
suggesting that towing might be the appropriate remedy for
those who violate the limousine zone.
But that idea died after police Lt. Steve Kenney said he
would only tow in extreme circumstances, for example, "a
blizzard and I needed to get snow removal through there."
After the council votes, it would take about two weeks to
put up signs and re-stripe the streets, Cassady said. She
said she hopes to have the zones in place around the
beginning of July.
The council will have to decide when to actually begin
levying fines. Cassady had suggested a two-week grace
period. But council members Paul Gray and Bob Martz said
they thought it might need to be longer.
"People will need some time to get used to it," Gray said.
Jim Moore, general manager of Artistic Limousines, welcomed
the change. He said making a drop-off in Old Town isn't too
much of a problem because it can be accomplished quickly.
But he said his drivers often have to wait 10-to-15 minutes
for customers to straggle in for pickup after a night of
"Besides holding up traffic, it was the fact that we were
being threatened with tickets," he said.
He said his company makes six-to-eight trips to Old Town
each week, carrying 50-to-75 people. He estimated that in
total, all the local limo companies and a party bus
transport 300-to-400 Old Town patrons a week.
Under the city's proposal, the limousine zone would be
restricted for commercial vehicles seating eight or more
passengers. The parking restrictions would be in force from
9 p.m. to 3 a.m., when most of the drop-offs and pickups
occur, Cassady said.
The zones on First and Second streets would be on the
northwest corner of their intersection with Washington. The
parking zone on Douglas would be between Rock Island and
Santa Fe. Each zone will take up about 150 feet of curb
space, she said.