AUBURN — Home occupancy business rules could be used to curtail Christmastime traffic on Vista Drive this winter.
City Manager Glenn Aho said he plans a public discussion about the heavy traffic on that one-way road when some neighbors put up displays set to music.
"They are generating as much traffic on that one street for those few weeks as any home occupation or business ever could," Aho said Wednesday. "We have rules for managing the impact home businesses have on their neighbors and the traffic they generate, so that may be something for us to consider."
Aho said he plans to discuss the matter with city councilors at their June 21 workshop meeting.
It was news to Vista Drive residents Karen and Jamie Loggins, who have made their street famous locally with their 160,000-light display set to music.
Asked for comment Wednesday night, the Loggins said they had not been approached by anyone from the city about the matter. They had not heard anything at all about Aho’s proposal.
“It disappoints me to think we live in a town where this would happen,” Jamie Loggins said. “It’s something we do with no self-interests whatsoever. No matter how rich or poor someone is, they can come here and enjoy the show at no cost.”
The couple began the informal show in December 2006, taking a break in 2008. The Christmas display returned last year bigger and better than before, with more computerized lights set to music broadcast on FM channel 88.1.
The family shortened the show's daily run time last year, but crowds still showed up in their cars to watch the lights. Auburn police helped direct traffic and closed part of Park Avenue nightly while the show was playing.
"We're not trying to dampen anyone's fun, but it does become a safety issue if police or ambulances have difficulties getting through, because of the traffic," Aho said. Vista Drive's other residents have trouble getting into their driveways while the show is running.
The Loggins said they had not heard of any problems with emergency vehicles getting into or out of the area while the light show was in progress, surely no more than the kind encountered at an average high school football game.
On Wednesday night, the couple said they would wait to learn what happens next before commenting further.
“It’s sad that it’s come to this,” Karen Loggins said. “Hopefully, we’ll hear more about it.”
Aho said he hopes to generate some public debate about the lights. He has directed staff to draw up ordinance amendments to put limits on the display.
"What is reasonable for us to regulate?" Aho said. "You can't say we should do nothing, because it is a safety issue. Should we limit the hours or days they can run? Possibly. Should we limit the number of lights they can use? I don't know, but I don't want us to get into a situation where we're counting the number of lights they display."