Free parking may get the brakes |

Free parking may get the brakes

Carolyn Sackariason

The days of free two-hour parking in Aspen could be numbered.Beginning this spring, paid parking could expand into nearly every residential area, eliminating the option for motorists to move their vehicles every 120 minutes to escape getting a parking ticket – also known as the “two-hour shuffle.” Tim Ware, director of City Hall’s transportation and parking department, said the plan is to install 70 to 75 new pay stations over the winter at cost of about $950,000. Once they are installed, Ware said the revenue generated would be about $340,000 a year. The proposal is paid parking will be instituted in residential areas three blocks off of the commercial core in every direction, as well as the blocks off of Durant Avenue along the base of Aspen Mountain.”It doesn’t affect anyone who isn’t cheating,” Ware said. “Moving across the street is over. … No more rubbing the chalk off. … People need a little nudge to do the right thing.”This isn’t the first time the proposal has been discussed. The initial proposal was rejected by a previous City Council. Prior public meetings concerning the changes were sparsely attended by citizens, Ware said.A public hearing is scheduled Sept. 10 on the proposed ordinance, with a final review and possible approval by the City Council on Sept. 24. A second ordinance would mandate that any street that does not have pay stations could not have a vehicle there for more than two hours in a 12-hour period.Pay rates also will increase effective Dec. 1. The residential day pass, which currently costs $5, will increase to $7. Pay stations will cost $2 for the first hour, $2 for the second hour, $3 for the third hour and $4 for the fourth hour.Ware told the City Council on Tuesday that its concerns of construction vehicles taking up valuable parking spaces should be addressed by the changes. The council had been considering different alternatives to regulate construction vehicle parking but in the end, it decided to see what effects expanded paid parking will have.”If we let this run its course, it will have a huge effect,” Ware said, adding he estimates 600 motorists move their vehicles throughout the day. Exemptions will still be granted to residents of the neighborhoods and those with carpooling and lodging permits.”It gives us a tool to eliminate the two-hour shuffle,” Ware said. “If you don’t belong, you’ll get a ticket.”This will affect everyone – residents, retailers, construction vehicles.”The City Council appeared supportive of the measure.City officials said if construction workers are forced to pay $7 a day to feed the meters it just might encourage them to use mass transit, or carpool into town.The City Council considered designating a “no construction” zone around a development and any construction vehicle within that zone would be issued a ticket. Another option was to limit the number of parking spaces allotted to a specific development site based on its size and the amount of parking that is available around the project. The third alternative was to require a specific amount of construction workers from each site to carpool unless they were granted a special parking permit.But Ware pointed out that he has a problem whenever the city designates parking spaces to a particular group and city staff said those options would be difficult to enforce.Carolyn Sackariason can be reached at