Omaha homeowners receive permit demand letters for parking pad lease fee

More than 700 pads on public property must now be leased from the city.
6 On Your Side first revealed the parking pad controversy last fall and it's heating up again as permit demand letters go out this summer.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Here’s an example of not everyone paying their fair share.

Along one Omaha street, 33 homes have parking pads on the city’s right of way.

Yet only one homeowner is paying a lease fee. That’s why an Omaha city ordinance is being enforced three decades after it was put on the books.

She bought her house five years ago but nobody told Cheri Schouten then that she doesn’t own her pad.

“And we were in no way prepared to start paying to park out front in a parking pad that was there long before we bought the house,” said Schouten.

More than 700 pads on public property must now be leased from the city. Up to 90 home and business owners have applied for a parking permit. Those cost an average of $100 per vehicle a year or they could cost more depending on the value of adjoining land.

Some homeowners facing that unexpected fee say they shouldn’t have to pay it and the city grandfather them in because the parking pad was here when they bought the property.

Grandfather rights is a relative question Omaha Councilmember Juanita Johnson asks city parking officials.

“Is there an opportunity for us to grandfather them in?” said Johnson.

No easy answer for Ken Smith of Park Omaha.

“It would be really hard to administer, who do you provide it to it would be difficult to consistently apply it,” said Smith.

Many property owners in the Waverly Park neighborhood have parking pads on public right of way and they must submit a lease application to the city 60 days from official notice.

Cheri has 30 days left to apply.

“It’s meant for commercial, I don’t believe it was intended for residential areas like this,” said Schouten.

But the city isn’t just searching for home pads to seek permits and lease fees.

“So parking pads, sidewalk, cafes, and other private use of the public right of way,” said Bob Stubbe, public works director.

Warning letters sent last year and the story in November aren’t enough notice of future lease fees says Neighborhood President Morris Jones.

“Put it in the plat of survey so the next person that purchases the home knows what they are stepping in,” said Jones.

City officials will investigate if pads on public property can be parked on deeds for private property. They say the ordinance is being enforced across the city on both residential and commercial property.

Anyone who doesn’t want to apply for a permit and pay the annual parking pad fee can tear it out.