Steamboat Springs Police Department community service officer Scott Shaffer issues a parking citation on Mount Werner Road last month. After hearing the results of the latest downtown parking study, several Steamboat Springs City Council members are calling for an increase in parking enforcement.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs Police Department community service officer Scott Shaffer issues a parking citation on Mount Werner Road last month. After hearing the results of the latest downtown parking study, several Steamboat Springs City Council members are calling for an increase in parking enforcement.

Steamboat Springs City Council members suggest more parking enforcement is needed


— After digesting the preliminary results of another downtown parking study, several Steamboat Springs City Council members are suggesting the city should increase its level of parking enforcement.

The council also wants to find a way to get long-term parkers to utilize some satellite parking lots.

Reader poll

Scot Martin was hired by the city as a parking consultant, and he gave some suggestions at a forum about what Steamboat could do about the parking problem. Which of those ideas do you think would help?

  • Making spaces smaller to allow for more cars to park 6%
  • Using single-space meters in select areas 20%
  • Using license plate technology to aid in parking enforcement 36%
  • All of the suggestions 39%

212 total votes.

"I think we need to get after enforcement and not punish the people who are doing the right thing," City Council member Sonja Macys said. "The enforcement piece is critical. ... We can address that very easily in the next budget cycle without any study at all."

A parking consultant from Denver using license plate reading technology found that on Friday, July 11, there were 141 vehicles parked for too long in short-term spaces downtown from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Council member Kenny Reisman asked how many of those vehicles were receiving parking tickets.

"I know there's a staffing issue involved in that but maybe there's also a directional issue that needs to come from us in terms of what are we trying to accomplish," Reisman said as he suggested enforcement could be ramped up and improved.

Steamboat currently has one employee dedicated to downtown parking enforcement, and that employee also has to cover the mountain area and all other parking in the city limits.

Scot Martin, the consultant working to make recommendations for how to improve parking, said the level of enforcement here is on the low end of communities he has surveyed.

"It's probably pretty difficult for (the parking enforcement officer) to keep up given the size of the downtown area and the number of short term spaces there," Martin said.

Enforcement currently entails chalking tires and other visual methods, and it usually rotates in certain areas on certain days.

Like Macys and Reisman, council member Walter Magill also supported looking into ways to increase parking enforcement instead of any other significant changes to the downtown parking system.

"I like the idea of the license plate reader," Magill said, referring to a newer technology being considered by the consultant that could be implemented to boost parking enforcement. The technology "would help the employees understand and the people parking downtown understand that you do have to move."

Magill said moving to parking meters downtown would "punish the people who are following the rules."

The parking study still is underway in downtown Steamboat, but council members had a lot of feedback to give during the status report from Martin on Tuesday night.

Martin, a senior planner at Desman Associates, gave a presentation on a recent parking public opinion survey and shared a range of statistics from his own observations of downtown parking.

There were some statistics in Martin's report that caught the eye of council members.

"The biggest thing that jumped out at me was the 1,200 private spots (out of 2,800 total spaces) we have downtown," council President Bart Kounovsky said. "If those go away, we are in a huge congestion bottleneck immediately."

An example of private spaces include the ones found in the large lot next to Wells Fargo that are used by the public.

Kounovsky said the city needs to focus on getting employees out of the short-term spaces and into the outer lots.

Council member Tony Connell shared those views.

Martin will spend the coming weeks determining the demand for parking from downtown employees and also looking at what may be needed to accommodate future parking demand in Steamboat.

He said Wednesday that he's working to get a series of recommendations to the council within the next two weeks.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10


Scott Wedel 2 years, 8 months ago

Except no one questioned how the study measured violations and how many of those violations would have resulted in tickets by enforcement. Technically, parking in the same spot for 2 hours and 10 minutes is a violation in a two hour parking spot, but enforcement gives more leeway than that. Before city council leaps off and decides that more enforcement is needed they should first pin down what the study counted as violations and then talk to enforcement in order to determine whether the issue is a lack of enforcement personnel. If parking enforcement was working that Saturday morning then problem could be enforcement is too lenient or too inept. Or maybe enforcement is where it should be and study counted minor technical violations that enforcement ignores. Remember, a town that aggressively hands out tickets gets a reputation as a place to avoid.

And most of the 1,200 private parking spots cannot go away because those were required as part of the building on the rest of the parcel. Yes, YVEA's parking lot can go away, but not much else in the limited area of the parking study.

The stupidity of talking about a parking garage can be seen from the study which showed the downtown core on a very busy Saturday with a farmer's market is when downtown core parking is full. So then what happened on that Saturday morning? People parked outside of the studied area on the streets between Oak and Pine, they parked at ice rink or Howelson. It was not the end of the world of people driving for hours looking for a parking spot. Parking on the streets between Oak and Pine is still less than two blocks walk to Lincoln.

The joke of the parking discussion is that the visionary effort of a prior city council to build an overflow parking lot at Stockbridge is still so rarely needed that there still isn't demand for a Stockbridge/downtown shuttle service.


dave mcirvin 2 years, 8 months ago

only my $0.02-License plate scanning/ticketing in downtown?
OK. (besides, likely already an ongoing NSA endeavour-joke, kinda).

ticketing the out of towners on Mt. Werner road?
not as good (IMO, biting the hand...).

consider more parking @ or nearby Rotary Park and/or signage outlining alternative spaces? Yes.


Scott Wedel 2 years, 8 months ago


The reason given for a license plate reader should raise privacy concerns.

Big cities use license plate readers to find cars that are chronic parking violators and should be towed and impounded.

SB is talking about license plate readers to determine the parking habits of legally parked cars

I think there is no interest in more parking at Rotary Park because there is no one saying there is any lack of remote parking. The parking study limited the area of concern to 5th to 10th between Oak and Yampa. So the availability of parking at 4th and Pine doesn't indicate that parking isn't that bad.

The numbers don't suggest there is a genuine parking problem. If anything, they suggest that there are weekends which are already too busy to cope with Farmer's Market closing a street, removing available parking and having vendors and their employees also compete for short term downtown parking.

Thus, if parking is truly an important problem then there is no way that Farmer's Market should be allowed to be held downtown. The reasons to keep holding it downtown are also reasons why parking isn't really a problem.


Lee Cox 2 years, 8 months ago

I received a parking ticket at Howelsen, where there was NO indication that parking there was illegal (no sign, no painted stripes), and you don't want to give parking tickets to those who park right NEXT TO the No Parking signs on Mt Werner? Go figure ...


rhys jones 2 years, 8 months ago

Sorry to poach this forum, but this is too good not to share:

Tourist to wife, overheard on bus:

"Yeah, they used to have steamboats here in the old days."

I didn't bother to correct him.


Scott Wedel 2 years, 8 months ago

Did the steamboats have big metal springs to bounce over rocks and other obstructions in the river?


Fred Duckels 2 years, 8 months ago

I think that I have found the answer to our parking woes after looking at Lincoln Ave. jammed to the hilt on Friday afternoon. Lincoln itself is the perfect parking lot.


Scott Wedel 2 years, 8 months ago

It would appear that traffic projects that reduce Lincoln to one lane should be done at night when it can be done without putting downtown into near gridlock. That sort of traffic should be expected to reduce the number of customers visiting downtown.


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