Locals to blame for clogging up Aspen? | AspenTimes.com

Locals to blame for clogging up Aspen?

Janet Urquhart

Discouraging locals from parking downtown is the best bet to turn Aspen into a more pedestrian-friendly community, according to one city councilman.Councilman Tim Semrau challenged his council colleagues to price locals out of the core and strip away the two-hour free zone in the residential periphery if they’re serious about reducing the number of motorists driving downtown.”If we had the courage to inconvenience locals, we could make this pedestrian-friendly overnight,” he said.Council members didn’t exactly embrace Semrau’s suggestion during a work session devoted to transportation issues on Monday, but they didn’t dismiss them, either.Mayor Helen Klanderud offered the most skepticism to Semrau’s ideas.”These are people who feel priced out of the community in every which way,” she said. “Why add another layer to it?”You’re not going to do that without a lot of angst and anger.”But local resident David Guthrie urged the city to extend its paid parking program in the core into the evening hours to prevent workers from clogging spaces at night. He blamed locals for much of Aspen’s traffic.Elimination of the free zone adjacent to the core, where locals shuffle their cars every two hours to avoid paying to park or getting a ticket, could also help alleviate clogged streets and encourage bus ridership, said Tim Ware, head of the city’s parking department.Those blocks around the core could be made available only to those who have a guest or residential parking pass, or buy a day pass, he said. Or, the city could implement paid parking in the neighborhood zones closest to the downtown core, suggested Councilwoman Rachel Richards.However, raising parking fees to discourage locals from driving into town could exacerbate the perception that Aspen’s too expensive, Richards added.Along with disincentives to parking downtown, the city needs to provide an alternative, Semrau said. Visitors are probably not likely to leave their cars at Buttermilk, for example, but commuting workers could, he said.”The key is free intercept parking and commuter service that really works,” Semrau said.Council members also debated the need for additional parking garage space in town versus the wisdom of drawing more cars into town in order to get to the parking.”Realistically, I think we need to look at more parking spaces somewhere,” Klanderud said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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