Rob Douglas: Reisman to restaurateurs: ‘Clean up’


Across Steamboat Springs this week, doctors have been treating neck injuries suffered by readers of the Steamboat Today. Having read on Tuesday that the Steamboat Springs City Council would meet that evening to start discussions on “improving” downtown parking, readers suffered whiplash when they read on Wednesday that the council will vote on June 17 whether to remove upwards of 33 parking spots from Yampa Street — as proposed by council member Kenny Reisman.

Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at

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While it’s tempting to question whether some council members are employing Common Core to convince themselves that subtraction results in addition when it comes to parking, the reality is that a faction of the council believes they need to summon the “courage” to “kick-start” “change.”

But let’s save for another day the discussion of why some other council members believe it’s their job to kick-start change — hint: it’s about a lack of tax dollars to fund Steamboat’s unquenchable thirst for capital projects — and instead examine what’s driving Reisman’s desire to immediately strip a portion of parking from Yampa Street.

Based on his pronouncement at Tuesday’s meeting, it’s not just “public safety” that’s motivating Reisman. Evidently, some Yampa Street restaurateurs don’t meet Reisman’s lofty standards and he wants them publicly shamed.

For context, the next five paragraphs contain almost the entirety of Reisman’s presentation about Yampa Street parking at Tuesday’s meeting:

“Here’s how I’d like to kick-start a change is that we eliminate parking from Sixth Street to Ninth Street on Yampa on the south side of the street. So we’re talking the river side of the street. And we have a meeting on this in two weeks here in council to vote on this so people can engage in conversation in the next two weeks. And we make this happen.

“Here’s what happens if you do that. We lose about 33 parking spots in all likelihood. Somewhere between 33 to 40 parking spots depending on the footage that we use. What you also then get is, you get anyone coming from Howelsen over the bridge on 10th Street can then connect through that parking lot which is now, you have the Backdoor (Sports) parking lot, on to the south side of the street and have space, because there’s no parking to roam freely — this is bikes, and families, and older people, and younger people, and everyone — to walk that south side of the street down to Sixth where they then can connect to the city sidewalk that borders the parking spots by the river. You then have linked it completely back over to Howelsen and the bike path. So what you’ve created is a completely safe experience for everyone in this community regardless of age to get engaged in downtown.”

After discussing exceptions for deliveries, Reisman continued.

“It’s a change. And I think it’s one that will dramatically improve the experience of everyone in this community who lives here or visits without spending barely a nickel in doing it.

“And then what you’ll find is, you’ll wander down cause there’ll be no cars parked down there on that side, and you’ll stumble onto E3 (the new steakhouse where Cottonwood Grill was located) and you’ll finally be able to notice the beautiful gardens that they’ve created and the sidewalk they’ve put in. And then you’ll see other restaurants who might not have done that and you’ll start to have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, can you clean up a little bit cause we don’t like the experience now that we can see it.’ And I think it’s a great way to kick-start it.”

Got that?

As an elected official, Reisman believes the city should use its regulatory authority over public parking as a means of “kick-starting” public ridicule of privately owned businesses that don’t meet his subjective aesthetics — even though those businesses are in compliance with the law.

Reisman’s ham-fisted ploy is so wrongheaded it calls into question what other ulterior designs he has for Yampa Street and what steps he’s willing to advocate as a means of picking winners and losers among business owners.

One thing is certain. If you’re not one of the businesses that satisfies Reisman’s vision, you better get involved before he decides to kick-start you.

To reach Rob Douglas, email or follow him on Twitter @RobDouglas3


John St Pierre 2 years, 10 months ago

parking at Howlsen???? guess he has not been there during softball season/triple crown..... what parking ???? not to mention there is no lighting on the bike or bridge path....

Last night for example from 6 to 10 the parking lot was filled ... so where would the bar/restaurants goers park then????? What happens when Rodeo starts????

What a complete disconnect... here's better question... why wasnt E-3 or any of the restaurants required to provide parking for their employees or customers???like most towns and cities have...... for that matter look at Casey's Pond.... does anyone really think that it was an accident or oversight that there is no place to park???? every rule it seems is selectively enforced nowadays.... maybe we should charging a fee for every space not provided....

Its a business decision to where to locate your operation... part of that is the consideration of how your customers will get to you... you know that old concept= Location, Location, Location.... so why is the city even dealing with this ????? Let the free market work it out!!!!


Tim Keenan 2 years, 10 months ago

I for one am glad there are still a few places where those of us who don't make six figures can go to eat and drink outside of happy hour. However, that number is diminishing. I suspect there are some who would rather that number go to 0. Me, I think we could use a few more such places, even if they don't have impeccable landscaping.


Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

I think Rob misses the goal of those that want to remove parking. Their overall vision is of a pedestrian only Yampa St. They think that the cars and parking make it unfriendly for pedestrians and biking so then remove cars and parking so that pedestrians and bicyclists flock to the area.

And so if there are no cars or parked cars to block views and everything is wonderful with pedestrians and bicyclists then everyone will also make it beautiful as well.

It is a whole series of assumptions, but it is their vision of how to improve things for the rest of us.


Fred Duckels 2 years, 10 months ago

A parking garage may be the ultimate solution but we probably need a 20 year grace period to experiment.


Bill Dalzell 2 years, 10 months ago

So let me get this straight. You are worried about Reisman, because he publicly shamed someone, so you decide to try and publicly shame him? Isn't that a bit childish. I agree with Scott, you are missing the point, as to the main goal. Also Rob, why do you always choose to attack the person, rather than the idea? Jon Quinn, Kevin Nearney, Kenny Reisman, etc. To me you are a big bully with a pen, no different than a big bully with a stick in a playground.


mark hartless 2 years, 10 months ago

Reisman is using (or proposing to use) the brute force of government, not just a fountain pen. Big difference, Bill.


Thomss Steele 2 years, 10 months ago

How did Reisman become a city counsil member? More importantly how do we remove him?


Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

He was smart enough to see that no one else was running for the at large seat so he applied for that seat. Meanwhile, I think it was District 1 that had a bunch of candidates fighting for the same seat. Lesson for future candidates is to be prepared to run for your district seat and the at large seat and wait until the last second to pick the one that looks like an easier or uncontested seat.

It would be hard to recall him because that would require signatures representing I think 5% of the entire city of SB. There is no reason to recall him because he is just one of 7 members so any bad ideas can be rejected.

Now, if there are 3 others on the city council that support the idea then it might be worth recalling that group. But then, city council has shown to be thin reeds that take no action if there are any hints of contrary political winds.


Zac Brennan 2 years, 10 months ago

In the winter that 'no parking' on Yampa would be impractical. No one would want to walk a couple blocks to the restaurants.


John St Pierre 2 years, 10 months ago

Not to mention crossing the bridge from the parking lot across the river....

wonder what kind of free "tab's" some people are getting to push this no parking concept......


Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

I think parking is less of an issue in the winter since tourists are more dependent upon condo shuttles and taxis.


Jon Quinn 2 years, 10 months ago

How did Kenny Reisman get the job? He ran for the seat in 2009 and defeated the candidate he ran against. Kenny is in his fifth year of service on City Council. Perhaps he decided that another 2-year commitment was more appropriate for him and his family than another 4-year term?

Rob is expert at pulling a couple of sentences from countless hours of dialogue and Monday morning quarterbacking them into the local column. That's his job and he is good at it. I know that this community is deeper than that nonsense though. I'd encourage the rest of the Monday morning quarterbacks on this forum to walk a mile in a man's shoes before judging him.


Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

Jon, Nice job of skipping the facts on the 2013 election. You must be a politician.

Kenny Reisman said he was running for reelection which would have been to retain the District II seat.

It was smart of him to run for the at large seat, but you'd have to be naive to think that his decision wasn't affected by having Scott Ford, a formidable candidate, already filing for District II. Scott Ford with his criticism of the process of trying to sell the public services building and finding a new police station was going to be tough to beat.

Reisman was smarter than most of the candidates in District I whom filed for the congested seat and left the at large seat unopposed. That said, Reisman would have had a decent chance to beat the other District I candidates if they had run for the at large seat.

Though, the idea of eliminating 33 parking spots on Yampa is so goofy that it is asking to be second guessed and even mocked.


kevin fisher 2 years, 10 months ago

Criticizing the messenger in this instance is misspent effort, as I believe Kenny's position is shared by many in our community. Indeed, I am sure numerous constituents have taken time from his grocery shopping over the years to express these very sentiments.

However, I am interested in seeing some hard data on just how "unsafe" Yampa Street, in its current state, is for pedestrians, et al. If this oft-repeated "public safety" rationale for revamping that stretch of road is founded, then by all means, let's discuss.....but, I have a sneaking suspicion that those horrible, horrible pedestrian pads that extend off every corner downtown account for many more close-calls from turning pickups (not many of those in this town, eh?) than do parked cars on Yampa.

If I am correct, then the real questions are: What is the majority community vision for the street and what do we need to do, if anything, to realize it in a way that is congruent with that vision while eliminating ancillary impacts to both the local businesses and downtown parking inventory?


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