Kmart ticketing

Cars parked Saturday in the Kmart lot are adorned with tickets for parking on private property after the property manager complained. Each ticket carried a $70 fine.

Andy Davis was shocked Saturday to find he’d been ticketed for parking at Kmart.

“Thirteen years-plus I’ve parked there, never got a ticket,” the 20-year Jackson resident said.

For years, people like Davis have used the Kmart parking lot for more than shopping at Kmart. They drop their rigs there to catch the START bus, or meet up in the lot to carpool.

But on Saturday, the Jackson Police Department received a call from Kmart Plaza’s property managers. They phoned in a request to ticket people parked in front of the empty big box store. In February, Kmart closed after nearly 30 years.

About 30 cars received $70 citations.

Maury Abrams LLC, which owns the 8-acre parcel that was home to Kmart and still houses the vacant store’s parking lot, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Signs on the property — the Jackson Hole Daily counted at least five Monday — warn against parking in the lot for those who are not customers or employees. Some forbid abandoning vehicles or listing them for sale in the lot. Others specifically caution against using the lot as a park and ride. A START bus stop is located steps away.

Still, parkers like Davis said they’ve been using the lot for years with no problem.

“They put signs up a couple years ago, but they didn’t ever ticket anybody,” Davis said. “The owner probably didn’t want to offend any customers.”

Jackson Police Department Lt. Roger Schultz said Albertsons has towed cars “on occasion,” but those are usually stored for what appears to be the “long term.” Schultz said he didn’t remember events similar to Saturday’s in the Kmart lot.

“I don’t recall many occasions in the past where we’ve been asked to go to the location and write tickets,” he said.

“I’ve never known it to be an issue,” Gina Jones said.

Jones has been parking in the lot for about eight years. She used to live in Star Valley, and, when she came to Jackson, she would meet family and friends in front of the store. On Saturday, Jones, who now lives in Jackson, met her daughter there before going to T.J. Maxx and visiting downtown. She assumed that “people would be OK with you parking there.”

“Downtown is so congested,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to find two spots next to each other.”

Davis felt similarly, especially since the building that used to house Kmart is empty.

“The neighborly thing would be to let people use the lot to reduce congestion, take people off the road, reduce wildlife collisions,” he said, “All the things we’re trying to do as a community.”

In a Facebook post, the Jackson Police Department said towing would be used going forward to enforce parking. Maury Abrams did not confirm that by press time. But it seems likely that people who park regularly in the Kmart lot will have to find another spot.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

(2) comments

Dont Wanna

I got one. The parking lot is totally empty. I understand if businesses suffer but I've never seen the kmart lot full. What a bummer

Susan Crosser

It's amazing that suddenly, without any warning, Maury Abrams decides to enforce a no parking policy that is designed to make sure customers can park to shop at Kmart. While it was open, no enforcement. Now that no one can even shop at the store, suddenly the parking rule should be enforced ? Isn't there a legal precedent set if no enforcement occurs over decades? Why was a START bus stop set up at that parking area if no one intended people riding START to use the parking ? Is this really about trying to get a payment from START for the lot? Why would Mr. Abrams want to disengage from the community by actually forcing people to make all the wrong choices - more cars on the road, less START ridership. Why would the police participate in starting to enforce a policy that has been ignored for decades, and why $70 ? Maybe $15 with a warning that the next ticket will be $70. This was a sure-fire way to anger a lot of people. Poorly thought out, poorly executed. How on earth can an "unenforced" policy designed to allow KMART shoppers to park at the store, suddenly become important to be enforced when the store is shut?

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