Hybrid vehicle drivers may get parking break in Aspen after all | AspenTimes.com

Hybrid vehicle drivers may get parking break in Aspen after all

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Drivers of hybrid gas-electric vehicles will be able to park all day in Aspen’s residential zones without worrying about a parking ticket if the City Council follows through with its latest plan to promote the vehicles.

Council members voted 4-1 Monday to give drivers of the environmentally friendlier vehicles the break, though final approval of the measure is scheduled Aug. 25. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will also take place then.

Earlier this year, the council rejected a parking enticement to encourage use of hybrid vehicles, but the spring election brought two new members to the council who would like to treat hybrids differently when it comes to parking enforcement.

The ordinance would allow drivers of cars that meet the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Standards to park in the residential zone and the city’s high-occupancy vehicle zone with impunity.

They would not, however, get to park for free downtown.

Consideration of another incentive for hybrid ownership, a $100 rebate on annual registration fees, was continued to Aug. 25, so the council can consider both measures together.

“I think it’s important to show we are doing all we can to encourage energy conservation,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards, supporting the parking break.

But Mayor Helen Klanderud criticized the parking concessions as a “sounds good, looks good” public relations move that actually encourages people to drive, albeit in more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“My problem with giving free parking to hybrid vehicles – it encourages vehicle traffic, it rewards vehicle traffic,” she said. “I also think it’s a disservice to residential neighborhoods.”

An individual who parks a hybrid vehicle every day would save some $1,200 a year on the cost of the daily parking passes that allow vehicles to be parked in the city’s residential zones for more than two hours at a stretch, according to Tim Ware, head of the city’s parking department.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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