Hays High students causing parking problems in Plum Creek

Congestion caused by an influx of Hays High students parking vehicles within the Plum Creek subdivision is forcing emergency officials to take action.

By limiting parking on Wetzel, Hellman, Mather and Kerbey to only one side of the street, the Kyle Fire Department hopes the move will allow emergency vehicles better to access the neighborhood.

Kyle Taylor, Kyle Fire Department chief, said officials wanted to make changes after struggles to get fire trucks and ambulances through parts of Plum Creek. Taylor said the congestion was caused by Hays High students who were parking their vehicles on area streets due to a lack of bus service.

In January, Hays CISD ended bus service for students living within two miles of several campuses, including Hays High. The Hays Free Press reported in January that 1,400-plus students were not eligible for bus service as new sidewalks are being planned for FM 2770 or on FM 150.

Taylor said both Kerbey and Hellman, as well as areas near McNaughton Park have been “impassible.” Students are driving within the subdivision to park their vehicle near ingress and egress points in Plum Creek and then walk to campus, Taylor said. It also has created a traffic hazard, as drivers trying to navigate the streets often deal with obstructed views.

“We’re trying to make it safer and easier for our guys to get in. That’s our whole goal,” Taylor said. “All the way around the park, it’s a mess out there. We have had issues with blocked fire hydrants.”

The decision to limit parking to one side of the street was made by Kyle Fire Marshal Mark Schultz, who was given that authority by the Kyle City Council in 2017.

At that time, the Kyle City Council updated its fire code to allow the fire marshal to address parking issues if a road is less than 26 feet in width. Taylor said streets in Plum Creek are narrower than 26 feet.

Updating the fire code also calls for new development to design streets that are no less than 32 feet wide. Taylor said the Kyle Fire Department has dealt with traffic issues on Wetzel for years, but no issues have been caused by congestion on Kirby and Hellman yet.

Taylor said he plans to talk with City Manager Scott Sellers and Hays CISD leaders to come up with a solution to the parking problem.

“Maybe during the summer, we can come up with a solution,” Taylor said.

Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said he learned about the parking issues through social media. Mitchell said he learned residents were experiencing congestion “on a scale they had never seen before” due to the influx of student vehicles.

Students parking in subdivisions is an issue the Kyle City Council has dealt with in the recent past, Mitchell said. In 2016, the Kyle City Council prohibited Lehman High students from parking in subdivisions near the campus.

While ideas about creating permitted parking were explored in both situations, Mitchell said there was “unintended consequences” of establishing such rules.

As a result, residents in the neighborhoods supported the move to have cars parked on only one side of certain Plum Creek streets.

Mitchell said the best way to address parking problems in neighborhoods near high schools is to incentivize students to park on campus. Kyle is also working with Hays CISD to potentially set up auxiliary parking sites near Hays High to allow free parking for students who must commute.

However, Mitchell said the city doesn’t intend to require any other streets to limit parking to only one side at this time.

“That said, we are listening to residents and taking our cues from them,” Mitchell said. “If they agree that a street should have parking addressed or have one-sided parking, we’ll take a look a it.”

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