Aspen City Council green lights 50% parking rate hikes

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
A parking meter in downtown Aspen shows the hourly rates on Monday. Those rates will increase by 50 percent during the summer months in an effort to deter local motorists from parking in the downtown core.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times |

Enjoy Aspen’s parking fares while they last. Aspen City Council on Monday approved an ordinance that means parking prices will increase by 50 percent during the months of June, July and August.

The spike is part of the Parking Department and the City Council’s goals to reduce traffic into town and dissuade locals from parking downtown.

“We have not heard a lot (of complaints), but we’ll hear more when the prices go up,” Mitch Osur, the Parking Department’s director, told the council.

Osur said the jacked-up fees are intended to steer commuters to the Brush Creek intercept lot and take a public bus to town or use the city’s Rio Grande Parking Garage, which costs $5 a day with a 10-punch pass.

“It’s a carrot and stick project,” Mayor Steve Skadron said. “This is the stick, and if it doesn’t work addressing the issues we have in the core, then we’ll reset the prices and find another way.”

Osur has maintained that the fee hike is not a cash-grab for the Parking Department. Instead, the extra funds generated — Osur expects an additional $150,000 in parking revenue this summer from the experiment — will go toward funding other transportation programs. That includes the city’s free on-demand taxi service that the council approved Monday, along with shuttle service, free bike tunes and other perks for locals.

The across-the-board, 50 percent rate hike means motorists will see increases from $2 to $3 for the first hour of parking, $5 for two hours to $7.50, $9 for three hours to $13.50 and $14 for four hours to $21.

In previous pitches to the City Council for the increases, Osur said 70 percent of motorists who park downtown are locals and workers. By doing so, they take spaces from tourists and make getting around downtown more difficult.

Osur told the council he sent a survey to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which showed that more than 60 percent didn’t believe the increased fares will have an effect, and a “small percentage” said they will have a negative impact.

Because the council passed the fare hike in the form of an ordinance, it will have to rescind the ordinance after the experiment, provided they want parking prices to return to their current level, said Aspen City Attorney Jim True.


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