Steamboat City Council to vote on whether to remove parking spots from Yampa Street

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council will decide June 17 whether to remove several parking spaces from Yampa Street to make it more pedestrian friendly.

Council member Kenny Reisman proposed the idea and said removing parking on the riverfront side of Yampa from Sixth to Ninth streets would make the street a safer, more appealing gateway to downtown.

He said it wouldn't be a parking solution, but it would be a "community safety and culture shift."

"It's a change, and I think it's one that will dramatically improve the experience of anyone who lives here or visits here without spending barely a nickel to make it happen," Reisman said.

Reisman estimated his proposal would eliminate about 33 spaces from Yampa and would make it safer for bikers, pedestrians and free concert goers to travel through the area.

His idea came as the council held a lengthy discussion about the future of downtown parking.

Council members offered different views on the prospect of paid parking downtown and also debated the merits of another parking study the city is about to initiate at a cost of $54,000.

"I don't see what we're going to get with this study," Reisman said. "As a council and with community input, we can lead and make a decision ourselves."

Other council members also questioned the study that is being funded from the city's parking in lieu fund.

"I don't think we need another study either," council member Sonja Macys said. "We need courage to actually do something."

Council members then started throwing out a number of parking ideas ranging from promoting cycling and bus ridership to utilizing revenue from paid parking to build a new parking structure downtown.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark said the study could bring clarity to a discussion about parking that currently lacks any consensus from council.

"There are so many ideas here. You have to understand how perplexing it is to staff because there are many options and so many ideas," Hinsvark said. "We have a lot of people with a lot of ideas, and they're great ideas. But we have no real expertise in town. I want to bring you a comprehensive solution."

She added that the point of the study was to bring in an expert to help the community, the council and the city come up with the best parking solution.

To improve parking in the short term, the city is adding more reverse angle parking spaces to Yampa Street, changing parallel spaces on Seventh Street to diagonal spaces and adding new directional signage to steer visitors to free parking lots off of Lincoln Avenue.

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

Comments

Alvin Wolff 4 months ago

$54,000 for a parking study? Are you crazy? Get a high school kid to ask 200 pedestrians what should be done for a buck a person. You'll get the same results for $200 and save $53,800. This is not rocket science people. Use common sense and you'll figure it out.

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Thomss Steele 4 months ago

$53k for a study are you people insane?!?!? Why don't we just shut down all the businesses on Yampa. Then we can plant some trees and grass. We could all sit around and wonder about the splendor that is us! Pat each other on the back and marvel at our amazing accomplishmens. What a bunch of dopes!

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Zac Brennan 4 months ago

Fourth & Yampa, formerly a residential neighborhood before it was "improved" by developers would now make a readily accessible park/parking lot. Go for it realtors! Put your money where your mouth is!

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Fred Duckels 4 months ago

A new study serves as a CYA certificate to protect everyone from responsibility. For years we have been steadily shedding parking spaces in order to gently force the folks onto the busses. Then maybe they won't needed tinted windows to hide the lack of riders. The big risk here is that maybe that is not what the customers want.We do not have a monopoly here. This progressive experiment is a catch all for the whole nation, maybe we should do our own thinking.

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Pat West 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Did the council read this story http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/2014/jun/02/while-some-steamboat-springs-call-downtown-parking/

When asked parking was not a problem, guests "didn't even blink" about parking around the corner, or an unnamed business owner says their employees cars were the problem, or where many studies have been done but no action has taken place.

Spend the $54,000 on sidewalks for Oak, or some other project rather than another bag of hot air from an expert.

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john bailey 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Pat , I guess they don't even read the local scandal sheet to see whats up in their own city.... how bout giving that 54K to the county to help fix RCR 14 ?....

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

I am still trying to figure out how parked cars are dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists.

How many pedestrians and cyclists are hurt each year by parked cars on Yampa St?

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Jim Kelley 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Sudden door opening---- usually the biggest safety issue with bike lanes adjacent to parallel parked cars. Usually the stuff of video bloopers and Tosh.O Pedestrians?? --Maybe texting and walking into a parked car?

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Cresean Sterne 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Maybe Stmbts council and Mnt Views council should join forces to create their own silly town.

"He said it wouldn't be a parking solution, but it would be a "community safety and culture shift."

Of course this will not be a parking solution, it will only create more of one. Once again this sounds like a sneeky way to start the pd parking process. The city has run amuck by creating problems that really dont exist. ...JMO...

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Well, prior to the last city council election, Scott Ford enters the race and is prepared to take on Kenny Reisman and kick him out of office. But Reisman sees that there is no competition for the at large seat and doesn't file to retain his seat, but files for the at large seat and manages to stay on the city council.

I think this points out a problem with the selection process for SB city council. That each election has 3 districts and 1 at large with the district winners getting 4 years and the at large getting 2 years. Thus, in every election there is a critical tactical decision by candidates on whether to file for their district or the at large seat. And so in the last election there was one district with a bunch of candidates fighting for one seat while the at large seat for which they were eligible went unopposed with a weak candidate.

The way this should be fixed is that every candidate runs for their district seat. And the ballot puts everyone running for a district seat as a candidate for the at large seat. The winner of the at large seat is then the highest vote getter that didn't win a district seat.

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rhys jones 3 months, 4 weeks ago

What difference does it makes who's on City Council? Deb Hinsvark runs this show. She throws our money at her pet projects, Council rubber-stamping everything.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

It obviously makes some difference who is one the City Council because it wasn't Scott Ford whom suggested getting rid of parking on Yampa St. It was the incumbent that should have faced Scott Ford, but filed for the at large seat instead.

Hinsvark has to navigate within what the city council will approve. City Council rarely stands up to public opinion so Hinsvark gets shot down with police station at RVP and so on.

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Scott Ford 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Although we are not a perfect City Council I think we have the potential to be a very good one. The seven of us are very different from each other and this diversity is where our potential exist. We do not even come close to agreeing with each other on many topics or approaches. However, I have a great deal of respect for each of my fellow City Council members. Seven months into my 4-year term on City Council that respect continues to grow.

Kudos to Kenny for wanting to propose a different vision for Yampa Street. I appreciate Kenny’s perspective and what he envisions as the potential of Yampa Street. There are many aspects of that vision I share with him. I think the debate amongst the 7 of us involves on this topic and a host of others is focus, approach and urgency. And most importantly the unintended consequences of any action we may direct to be implemented.

(Although I am a member of City Council my views are my own and may or may not be shared by my fellow council members.)

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Scott Ford 3 months, 4 weeks ago

This Parking issue gives me a headache!

I have yet to figure out what problem we are desperately trying to fix let alone its magnitude. For some the problem is the revitalization of downtown commercial. For some it is traffic congestion. For others it’s trying to change employee and business owner parking habits/behaviors. Yet some want to replicate what are the perceived success of communities such as Aspen or Boulder. Some want to implement paid parking as a means to finance a multi-story parking structure.

I think there is a great risk of implementing solutions in search of a problem.

I am game. Tell me what parking problem you think downtown Steamboat Springs has that desperately needs fixing now.

(Although I am a member of City Council my views are my own and may or may not be shared by my fellow council members.)

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Michael Bird 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Imagine that you are bound to a wheelchair. Now imagine you want to visit Yampa St. and/or participate in restaurants and activities. Now imagine trying to find a level and safe parking spot along Yampa and then being able to travel on a sidewalk on the riverfront side. This is a huge parking problem.that hasn't been addressed for decades. Same goes for Oak St. Now you know two major problems that need fixing now. And now means this summer.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Tell me what parking problem you think downtown Steamboat Springs has that desperately needs fixing now.

None.

In fact, there is no problem of any sort in downtown Steamboat Springs that desperately needs fixing now.

When I do a search on parking problems Boulder Colorado, I get all sorts of articles on how people are parking in residential neighborhoods to find longer term parking and avoid paid short term parking. A Steamboat solution like Boulder's can be expected to result in home owners on Pine Street and other parts of downtown complaining about not being able to park near their homes any more.

I think there is a general issue of employees and owners using what is supposed to be short term customer parking. I would ask downtown businesses and employees for their ideas on how to get them to not use parking intended for customers. That is such a counter productive practice that the main issue should be how to stop the cheaters that are taking customer parking from all the other businesses.

This is an issue where things can be improved, it is not a critical issue.

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Martha D Young 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Eliminating 33 parking spaces on Yampa St. and spending $54K on a parking study? As others have said, we have the means to address this "problem" without eliminating parking spaces and spending $54K.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

If Scott Ford's description of the city council's varied interests is valid then there is no reason to believe a new parking study will be treated any differently than previous parking studies.

There isn't a consensus of City Council members of the goal that needs a consultant to say the best ways to achieve that goal. The City Council is described by Scott Ford as having different goals Removing parking thinking that it will have benefits such as revitalization is in direct opposition with increasing parking by converting some sections to diagonal parking. There is no reason to hope that a study would lead the City Council to unify on some goals so it could then proceed.

Unless there are some on the City Council saying they will agree to this or that proposal if a study has it will likely have the predicted impact then all that a study can do is restate the various possibilities that all lack the City Council consensus to approve any of them.

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Mark Ruckman 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Scott Ford, the only parking problem I have downtown is that I don't always get the parking spot I want right in front of the business I want to visit.

Sometimes I have to walk a little ways :)

Overall compared to most cities, there is no parking problem in SB. Even if you have to walk, it is a couple of minutes to your destination.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 3 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't see that current conditions for parking are a problem for locals or tourists. A little bit of walking can be a good thing. Regards future needs I am struggling to come up with a scenario that would include a permanent increase in demand for downtown parking. Given that there is a perception that during busy tourist seasons parking can be in short supply, it seems that doing anything to reduce the number of parking spots would be a bit short sighted. I have wondered about encouraging folks to park in the Meadows lot and hop on the city bus, but I would guess most would find that inconvenient. Regardless, there appears to be no need to spend any money on another "survey".

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Just looked around and it seems that typically the driving force behind fixing parking problems is when residential neighborhoods consider themselves impacted by people parking on their streets.

When that occurs then they'll do something like issue neighborhood parking permits for the residents. Since that removes a bunch of parking that was being used for downtown, college or whatever, then they have to redo parking rules and access for what needs all that parking.

So, until the residential downtown neighborhoods come to the City demanding that the City stops other people from parking on their streets then there isn't really a parking problem.

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jerry carlton 3 months, 4 weeks ago

In my 50 years of observing the U.S. culture a "culture shift" is usually a bad thing. I did not pay much attention to American culture my first 20 years. Just remember that if you live long enough, you will get elderly. Remember these words 40 years from now if the country and world still exists.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Well, I am old enough to remember when the Oakland Police Dept refused to allow my aunt, a policewoman able to serve undercover, to take the test to become a police sergeant. With legal help from the National Association of Women, a court ruled that the dept had to allow her to take the written test. After she passed the written test the police dept then refused to allow her to take the physical test, claiming she could get injured. That was being litigated when she had an accident with her horse and broke her ankle. Then the department required that she immediately take the physical test.

It is crazy to think that was the way things were during my life and it took a great deal of effort by individuals to change things so that today things like a female police sergeant and higher ranks is normal.

I think the great majority of culture shifts have allowed more people to have "normal" lives. That a capable Black, Mexican, Asian, Italian, Irish man, Slavic, Catholic, Jew, woman, gay and so on have all been discriminated against in the history of the USA.

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mark hartless 3 months, 4 weeks ago

We are as bankrupt culturally as we are financially.

If you can't see it then you're probably one of the zombies with the thousand yard stare, living your wretched life inside your bong and cell phone...

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jerry carlton 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Scott W I agree with what you say above. Now how do you feel about destruction of the American family, a 50% plus divorce rate, millions of unborn children killed in their mothers wombs, the continuing collapse of public education, huge numbers of children born out of wedlock, raised in fatherless homes and ending up in prison, mass murders happening almost weekly, childhood obesity, rampant use of drugs and alcohol, financial bankruptcy of the federal government, the growth of black, Hispanic Asian, and white gangs in every major city in the country and every prison in the country. I could go on longer than my fingers can type. These are the culture shifts that I have observed in the last 50 years. Oh, I forgot the growing gap between the top 1% of the country's rich and the other 99% of the people and the growing corruption in all levels of government, particularly federal.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Jerry,

Most of the problems you describe have been long term issues and are not the result of culture shifts.

Divorce isn't good, but the alternative is worse. Making people live together that want to be divorced or preventing separated couples from remarrying is not good.

Gangs are not a new problem and their power is linked to the level of profitable illegal activity available. Gangs may have shifted from Irish, Italian, etc to other ethnic groups and be quicker to kill each other, but the problem hasn't overall changed that much.

It my thesis that most government, particularly federal, issues are the result of very static Democratic and Republican political parties. When politics are in flux with neither side sure of their voters then people can get together to solve issues.

For instance, when Lyndon Johnson pushed through civil rights legislation then that caused near chaos in the political parties. Democrats had been strong with southern whites because they weren't the Party of Lincoln. So in that fluid situation, Republican Nixon can sign into law the EPA since polluted rivers aren't popular and he can see it being a winning political issue for Republicans.

The realigning political parties gave opportunities to Carter, Reagan and Clinton, all of which pulled voters from groups that had tended to be considered leaning towards the other party.

But right now, it seems that both political parties are happy with their core constituencies and are not willing to reach out to new groups.

This static situation means that nearly every issue has well defined partisan battle lines which makes any progress very difficult.

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Scott Ford 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The reality is that the topic of parking will re-surface in this community from time to time. The challenge is not to overreact. Let me begin with a simple statement – I do not think we have a major parking problem that needs costly solutions. Without questions the situation can be improved. A few targeted “tweaks” is all that is necessary to accomplish this.
We have two separate issues that are being wrapped into the discussions occurring around “Parking”. Issue one; increase the desirability of Yampa Ave to encourage more commerce. I’ll call this issue Shop More Eat More (SMEM) on Yampa Ave. Issue two; lack of parking hurts SMEM throughout all of downtown. These are two very different issues being wrapped into one discussion that from my perspective results in us metaphorically chasing our collective tails in a circle and think we are making any kind of progress. The two issues should and need to be separated.

I am going to speak to issue #2 first. What parking problem are we trying to fix and how hard do we need to work at fixing it? Without questions there are certain times during the year (summer July-mid September) that parking in the afternoons, specifically weekends where parking can on a few occasion be a challenge.
The key “problem” seems to be that employees/owners are parking close to their own establishments or that of their peer businesses and are crowding out potential “customers” or so we assume this is happening. The magnitude of this occurring is unknown. Is it happening 10% of the time or 90% of the time? Are the businesses impacted the most by poor employee/owner parking habits primarily restaurants or a general retail stores? Who knows! From my perspective a low cost approach would be to change signage and “beef-up” enforcement. This is a very simple “tweak”. Most of the parking signs downtown read either (2/3/8) hour that begins at 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Except for the rare special event (4th of July Parade) we do not have a parking issue downtown until the afternoon. From the ad-hoc discussion I have had the biggest problem seems to be with restaurant employees coming on shift at 4:00 pm who are parking in 2 hour slots intended for downtown customers.

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brian crosby 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The problem we have to figure out first... Is it Yampa St. or Yampa Ave.? I vote street.

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Scott Ford 3 months, 3 weeks ago

(Continued) Change the parking signs to read Noon to Midnight. Change the current 2 hour to 3 hours. Unless it is long-term parking Howelsen and specially designated lots and slots all parking downtown is 3 hour. Do not make exceptions for Sunday and Holidays parking. These exceptions are goofy in a town like ours. These relatively low cost changes will change employee behavior provided we are willing to enforce parking regulations.
For the retail store situation – most folks stroll up and down Lincoln Ave. It is more of the exception than the rule that visitors have a final destination that is only one retail establishment. The way-finding signs that are being installed and the new long-term after business hours & weekends (holidays) contracted parking lots at Wells Fargo and Yampa Valley Electric will be a great addition. This is a low cost alternative worth a try. Locals and visitors will likely quickly learn where to park if they want to park for longer than 3 hours.
Issue #1 – Is it the City’s responsibility to encourage more commerce in a specific geographic location? Just because it can does not necessarily mean it should. Alarm bells go off in my head when I hear terms such as “leader and courageous” to describe actions the city should take. I do not think you want us to be defined by these terms. I think you want us to do our best to be defined as prudent, diligent and boring.

(Although I am a member of City Council my views are my own and may or may not be shared by my fellow council members.)

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

“leader and courageous” easily enough becomes "foolhardy and reckless" depending upon how things work out. Custer showed courage leading a smaller force without cannons to the Little Bighorn.

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rhys jones 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Custer didn't do that on purpose. He left a Gatling gun behind as well, not wanting to be weighed down. He was supposed to hook up with Gen. Crook's forces, who somehow got waylaid or didn't get the message, so that never happened. The 7th Cavalry was outgunned as well as outnembered: The Indians had repeating Winchesters, while the Army had single-shot Sharp's. Same thing happened in 'Nam: The invaders got surrounded by the denizens, who slaughtered them. Those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it. Not that Custer has a damn thing to do with Steamboat parking.

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Aryeh Copa 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Although not mentioned in this article, at council meeting there were some complaints from downtown business owners about downtown business employees taking up parking spaces. These business owners could easily solve that problem by creating incentive to ride the bus or a bike. Offer an extra hour onto payroll for each day an employee rides their bike to work. Some more progressive business' already do things like this. And, spending 54k on a study from an outside group that does not understand our community is absurd, council would most likely ignore the study that will only tell us what we already know. If someone is not aware of "what technology even exists" for parking, then get on line and educate yourself instead of looking uninformed at a council meeting.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Good ideas, but first there has to be consensus that employees do not park in short term parking.

The business owners could make it company policy that employees do not park in short term parking. First step would be for businesses to not give employees a break every two hours to move their cars between short term parking spots.

This parking in short term parking is comparable to employees taking all the close parking spots at a mall. A well run store simply does not let employees to take the prime parking spots.

Once it is clear that employees are not going to be using the close in short term parking then the alternative means of transportation become solutions.

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david gibbs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

If safety is a concern, why are they not talking about making Yampa one way? This could add parking, increase safety and allow for the needed sidewalk.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

If safety is a concern then is there any evidence suggesting it is a valid concern?

From the police blotter, it appears that drunks are the only ongoing issue on Yampa St. If there is any problem to solve on Yampa St then it would appear to be closing some of the bars.

Seems to me that the biggest issue with Yampa St is that city government seems to have visions of wonderfulness that just isn't there yet economically. It is probably plausible to hope that Yampa St is a great pedestrian mall in 50 years. But right now there are still vacant lots and second rate buildings. The businesses would lose far more of their drive up customers than they would gain in walk up customers.

The market commercial rent simply is not high enough by a substantial margin to inspire the sort of construction needed for Yampa St to have the density needed for a pedestrian mall.

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Cresean Sterne 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Also consider the occassional detours off Lincoln through Oak and Yampa. Closing Yampa will only create a lot more traffic congestion on Lincoln through town. (even without the occasional detours it will still add quite a bit of traffic on an already congested Lincoln Ave).

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john bailey 3 months, 3 weeks ago

excellent point Cresean , now about that elevated by-pass......HA

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