HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Starting in July, a Hampton homeowner could find themselves in violation of city policy if a vehicle is parked on the front lawn when street parking is an option.
In a split 4-3 vote Wednesday, City Council voted to approve the changes to their parking ordinance after considering the issue for several years.
City planners said the move is an effort to preserve green space and improve the character of neighborhoods. Neighbors in opposition called it government overreach. Mayor Donnie Tuck said there is still clearly more work to do.
The ordinance will require people to park their cars in the street or in the driveway beginning July 1.
If they don’t have a driveway, they are not required to add one. However, they could be fined if they park in the yard instead of the street.
Driveways don’t be have to be traditional concrete. They can consist of simply pavers where tires go as well as rock, gravel or oyster shells as long as there is a border to the lose product, according to the ordinance.
There are several exemptions to the rule, which includes a recently added change that allows for loading and unloading for up to 24 hours.
Those who currently park on gravel without a “border” will be grandfathered and an exception as well.
City staff mentioned that the cities of Norfolk, Suffolk and Williamsburg already have implemented similar policies and it has “improved neighborhoods.”
However, the more than half-a-dozen speakers who had thoughts on the topic, spoke out against it.
“To tell me I can’t park in my own yard that I pay taxes on seems to be a misjustice,” said Ketra Honeycutt, who parks her car on her lawn.
Others pushed back on the argument the move was made to preserve green space when more people may be forced to put in driveways.
“This is wrong. This is abuse of power,” said James Scull, who lives in Hampton. “I have four grandchildren. I don’t want them playing on oyster shells.”
Earlier in the day, it was announced a grant would be funded in the 2022-2023 budget to help those who don’t have driveways install one.
“There are a number of things that we allow that for individuals that have hardships,” Tuck said. “Such as those who may not have on street parking. We have structured a $100,000 grant.”
Those in single family dwellings, two family dwellings or duplexes will be eligible for at minimum $2,250 grants as long as they make less than the average median income.
The program is expected to go live in April 2022.