No more all-day free parking in Aspen |

No more all-day free parking in Aspen

Aspen Times fileParking meters in Aspen's residential neighborhoods are now functional, and the days of parking for free for more than two hours in any residential zone are over.

ASPEN ” The days of unlimited free parking in Aspen are over.

Starting Monday, Feb. 2, motorists are only allowed to park for two hours in residential zones within three blocks off downtown Aspen in every direction.

Fifteen parking meters were installed a few months ago and are now functional to purchase $7 day passes for those who want to park all day. If not, vehicles must be moved within two hours in the residential zones ” if the driver doesn’t want a parking ticket.

However, the rule won’t apply after 6 p.m., when parking patrol officers are off duty.

The Aspen City Council passed an ordinance in 2008 that puts a two-hour limit on free parking in neighborhoods. The council also signed off on a license plate recognition (LPR) system that uses an optical scanner.

The system will enable parking officers to better enforce the two-hour free rule. The rule stipulates drivers are forbidden from parking in the same residential zone for more than 120 minutes in a 24-hour period.

Each time the system reads a license plate, it is matched with a database of parked vehicles for the day and alerts the parking officer to a match if the vehicle is in violation of the two-hour limit.

The LPR system also eliminates the need for parking officers to chalk tires and the ability of a vehicle’s owner to spin their wheels or rub the chalk off their tires. Until now, parking officers have used the chalk markings to keep track of how long a vehicle has been in one spot.

City transportation officials estimate that thousands of motorists have engaged in the so-called two-hour shuffle.

The largest segment of the abusers, however, is construction vehicles. The new regulation is aimed at preventing construction workers from parking in free zones all day long.

“One of the main things this targets is construction cars,” Mayor Mick Ireland said. “We are aware of people who gather everyone’s keys and move the cars around.”

Day passes also can be purchased at City Market and the parking office on Main Street, next to the courthouse. residents who live in the two-hour zones can obtain a residential parking pass from the parking department that allows them to park for free on the street all day.

With the changes, officials conservatively estimate a 25 percent increase in day pass sales, which will generate $550,000 annually. Increased parking ticket revenue also is anticipated.

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