Expansion of paid parking makes Aspen more exclusive
As if Aspen was not exclusive enough, along comes a plan to make it even more so.On Oct. 9, the Aspen City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal that would eliminate two-hour parking in the residential zones on the outskirts of the downtown core. The proposal calls for installing 70 to 75 pay stations in the neighborhood – at a cost of nearly $1 million.Some city officials reason this is a good idea because it would stop those who use the residential parking from doing the so-called two-hour shuffle – when motorists move their vehicles every 120 minutes to avoid getting a ticket. Officials also believe the expanding paid-parking zone would discourage commuters from driving to Aspen, and entice them to use public transportation.Maybe so, but we still believe that eliminating free parking in residential zones is a misguided idea, for several reasons.First, Aspen is expensive and exclusive enough as it is. The commuters who drive to and from Aspen everyday are the folks who make this town tick. Many of them take the bus already, while some of them do drive. It’s easy for Aspen residents to sit on their high horses and expect all commuters to take mass transit, but that mindset is naive and fueled by false expectations. Whether it be for family, professional or other concerns, there are times when commuters must drive to work.There are other reasons we feel this is not a good idea. We have serious reservations about the city considering to spend tens of thousands of dollars toward parking enforcement. And in a city that is so concerned about its aesthetics, we question the idea of putting those ugly parking meters in front of Victorian homes in the West End. In the end though, this expanded paid-parking zone looks like another step in the direction of a town where it is getting increasingly difficult to sleep, shop, and if this goes through, park. What’s next, the Maroon Creek toll bridge?We encourage citizens to attend the Oct. 9 meeting at the City Hall chambers and let our officials know that the city has enough paid parking as it is. We urge them to remind our officials that many commuters work here so they can live downvalley. Until we solve our housing crisis, spending upward of $1 million to expand our paid-parking zone looks like a Band-Aid that won’t fix a thing.
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The Wheeler Opera House will remain dark into 2021, with current COVID-19 public health orders in place. Meanwhile, the masonry work on the exterior of the building will continue into July.