Aspen parking fees to remain steady |

Aspen parking fees to remain steady

M. John FayheeSpecial to The Aspen Times

A Community Development Department staff recommendation that Aspen’s parking rates rise during peak seasons died a whimpering death Monday night.As part of the city’s ongoing dialogue to try to stem the flow of cars into town, the idea of raising parking fees during high season seemed like a good idea – except that, in the end, there were too many arguments against it.The community development staff’s recommendation was to raise peak-season rates for hours 1 through 4 from the current $1, $2, $2 and $3 per hour to $1.50, $2, $3 and $4, respectively. Staff suggested retaining the existing rates, which were last increased in 2002, during the offseasons.The rate-increase rationale, according to assistant city manager Randy Ready, was that fewer people would park in the city core. Simultaneously, Ready argued, the city’s coffers would increase to the tune of $125,000 a year.Mayor Helen Klanderud was concerned about how difficult it would be to reprogram in-car parking meters from one season to the next.”I’m just concerned that there would be too much confusion,” Klanderud said. “We already have parking enforcement on Saturdays during peak season, and no enforcement during offseason. I just don’t see increasing the rates during the busy time of year as having a significant effect on traffic in town.”Still, there was as much discussion about reducing traffic during offseason as there was about reducing it during peak times.Councilman Torre even dangled the idea of closing certain in-town streets on an experimental basis during slower times of the year to reduce the numbers of available parking spaces and thus, theoretically, providing less impetus for people to drive to town.But Councilwoman Rachel Richards countered that just closing a street to traffic does not a pedestrian-friendly venue make.”Besides, a lot of people having been waiting all winter to be able to drive to town and find a parking place,” Richards argued. “I don’t think we should necessarily be making it harder for them during the offseason.”Klanderud added that there might be some serious negative reaction from local business owners if streets were closed.Klanderud said she believes it’s worth exploring the idea of continuing the Galena and Crosstown shuttles during the offseason as a means of encouraging people to leave their cars at home.

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