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Sunset Heights residents worry ballpark parking could crowd streets

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO, Texas -- People living in the Sunset Heights community near the downtown ballpark are worried baseball fans will park in the neighborhood and walk to the El Paso Chihuahuas games.

Mike Smith and his brother own five buildings and about 50 units in Sunset Heights. They are afraid ballpark-goers will block off access for tenants to park in front of their homes.

"I am a season ticket holder. I'm looking forward to it, but my main concern is parking during the games because the street already fills up at night," Smith said.

El Paso's transportation department is working on a plan to restrict parking in the area, if that's what residents want.

If the plan is approved by the El Paso City Council, the area from Yandell to Interstate 10 to Fewel could be declared a residential parking district. That means people living there could request "no parking" signs for certain streets, and residents could only park there while displaying a sticker on their car.

El Paso Transportation Director Ted Marquez said if a majority of residents on a block within that zone request parking restrictions, the city would start enforcing them a block at a time.

"The reason for that is so we can enforce it. We can't say yes for one house and no [parking in front of another] because we won't be able to enforce it," Marquez said.

The rules would also only be in place during a certain time frame.

"We will accommodate the schedule with this area close to the ballpark where we will have an influx of people into the area," Marquez said.

However, some expect people will park in restricted areas anyway.

"Sometimes I have to park across the street because some idiot wants to park right there, and it's just sad. Nobody really cares," Sunset Heights resident Eric Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he takes care of his grandfather, and he is worried ballpark-goers could block the two of them from parking in front of their house.

"He's not able to walk out properly. He needs help to the car in case of an emergency. I need to get him into the car in case we don't have time for an ambulance," Hernandez said.

The transportation department expects to present the proposed parking zone to the City Council in a couple of weeks.


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