Aspen allows hybrid vehicles to continue to get break on paid parking |

Aspen allows hybrid vehicles to continue to get break on paid parking

After 14 years of parking for free in the city’s residential zones, drivers of hybrid vehicles will have to start paying $4 a day, Aspen City Council decided Tuesday.

The decision was a compromise of sorts, since the “no charge” for hybrids was set to expire Dec. 31.

The city’s Parking Department had suggested a $500 permit for 2019 only. After that, hybrid drivers would have had to pay the full rate of $8 a day, according to city parking director Mitch Osur’s memo to council.

But the majority of council members wanted to accommodate the occasional driver — who council said it wouldn’t be fair for if he or she had to buy a $500 annual permit.

Osur said there are currently 250 hybrid permits and he estimates about 60 percent of them would pay the yearly fee, averaging out to about $2.22 a day if they park five days a week.

However, at council’s direction, beginning in 2019 and going through 2020, hybrid drivers will use a code within the city’s parking system to signify that their vehicle is eligible to park all day in the four enforced residential areas surrounding the downtown core for 50 percent of the full price.

The idea from staff was to phase out hybrids because they are not as efficient as new technology, and incentivize the cleanest fuel-burning vehicles as possible.

“The thinking was they are still better than a gas vehicle, so we’ll give them something,” Osur said.

Mayor Steve Skadron said it was a goal of council’s a few years ago to move toward incentivizing electric vehicles.

The conversation and policies on parking, he added, should be centered around reducing fossil fuels and giving benefits to those who don’t burn them.

Councilman Adam Frisch said vehicle technology is not black and white, and hybrids are still better than car combustion. That is why he said he supports fellow Councilman Bert Myrin’s suggestion of half-priced parking through 2020.

Osur explained that enforcement will be a bit cumbersome because technology in the pay-by-phone system and pay stations doesn’t accommodate council’s specific request.

Noting that the hierarchy of environmentally friendly vehicles begins with electric vehicles and neighborhood electric vehicles, council agreed to allow those to be parked in the downtown core and residential zones for free through 2020.

Council also agreed to let trailers remain in residential zones as long as they have a residential permit, or they are attached to a vehicle. Campers also are allowed in neighborhoods for the time being.

And finally, council agreed to let the Parking Department change street parking on Lone Pine Road from a four-hour time limit to 72 hours until next year when that area will likely become another enforced zone that will require residential permits or the $8 a day fee.