Aspen officials may walk back parking restrictions in popular neighborhood

Cars parked near the Hunter Creek Apartments in Aspen covered by snow in February 2017.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

The Aspen Parking Department’s 90-day test of removing the ability to park long term in the dense Hunter Creek neighborhood may be short-lived.

When the rules were temporarily changed Oct. 1 so that people could only park on Lone Pine Road for four hours instead of 24, it drew the ire of some residents in the area.

That’s because the Parking Department did not issue residential parking passes like is customary in other neighborhood zones. The area is home to hundreds of locals, who live in the Common Ground, Lone Pine and Hunter Creek complexes.

Mick Ireland, who lives at Common Ground, said it’s a problem for households that have more than one car now that they can’t park on the street and there aren’t enough spaces in their complexes.

He said he suggested to Mitch Osur, the city’s parking director, that residents should be allowed to park on the street and be able to register their vehicles so enforcement officers can differentiate them from tourists or commuters.

Area resident Catherine Lutz also noted that residents who use Lone Pine for their second vehicles have to move their cars out during the day whether they plan to drive or not, which is a waste of emissions.

Osur confirmed that patterns indicate that during the morning hours, the street is 50 percent full. In the afternoon, it’s empty and then completely full after 4 p.m.

“It’s one extreme to the other and I’m not sure where the middle is,” he said. “The reality is that there are more cars than spaces.”

The street accommodates 33 spaces, and over the past year it has become crowded with commuters and skiers using it for day parking.

Now with the four-hour rule, there is virtually no one parked on the street, Lutz said.

“It just seems kind of stupid when it’s empty in the offseason,” she said, adding that the real problem will be during the holidays when town is busy, and residents in the neighborhood will be working a lot and leaving their cars at home.

“It just seems like you are punishing the residents who don’t have a place to park,” she said.

Osur said there is no question that they should get a residential permit but since the time limit change is part of a 90-day test, it didn’t make sense to go through that effort until a permanent solution is found.

Aspen City Council has asked Osur to come back in February with an enforcement plan for the area. That neighborhood may end up becoming another enforced residential zone where people are required to pay $8 a day and residents get a permit to park.

In the meantime, however, Osur said he has heard loud and clear from residents in the Hunter Creek area that the recent change isn’t working.

“The Parking Department has listened and we are making modifications that will be introduced soon,” he said.