Residents fed up with students, hospital visitors taking over residential parking


    Residents fed up with students, hospital visitors taking over residential parking<p>{/p}

    It's a battle between Las Palmas Medical Center, UTEP and neighbors.

    The cause of the tension is congested parking.

    Neighbors who are in the middle of both UTEP and Las Palmas Medical Center tell CBS4 their neighborhood streets are being taken advantage of but Las Palmas is arguing its expansion won't add any strain to parking.

    Jan Macatee says her neighborhood is a parking nightmare.

    "The last two years, the parking around my home, I can't have visitors,” said Macatee.

    Macatee says people are using her neighborhood as a parking lot for Las Palmas Medical Center and UTEP.

    "Basically, until seven in the morning until five at night,” said Macatee.

    Many neighbors worry it'll only get worse as Las Palmas expands.

    Last week city leaders approved operation for the Las Palmas helipad, and keeping the parking that they already have for functioning purposes.

    But after public comment from neighbors, council did not approve the special permit that would have allowed the hospital to waive building 79 additional parking spaces as part of its expansion.

    The city says this type of request is allowed.

    "Title 20, which is the zoning chapter of the city code, does allow for parking reductions. In this case they were requesting special permits for a parking reduction, said officials with the city.

    City Rep. Peter Svarzbein says neighbors he represents near the hospital tell him they've tried voicing concerns to Las Palmas but haven't had luck.

    "The hospital refused to come up with any sort of solutions, or to entertain any type of options there. And the city had reached out to them about these concerns,” said Svarzbein.

    But Las Palmas says it’s not brushing neighbors off.

    They released the following statement:

    After hearing concerns expressed by area homeowners, we set up a dedicated phone line for the neighborhood to call if they suspected that one of our employees or construction workers was parking in their neighborhood. To date, we have not received any calls, and we don't anticipate receiving any given that the construction is now complete.

    Las Palmas also argues that a one-day parking study it did back in November supports it doesn't need more spaces as there were still about 120 unused parking spots for patients and staff.

    UTEP also playing its role in the neighborhood parking overflow tells CBS4 in part:

    The University continues to inform and encourage students to take advantage of the many parking options available on campus. These include parking permits..., reduced-price carpool parking permits,[and] a shuttle system.

    Still, Macatee says all involved need to reach an agreement that takes strain off of neighbors.

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