Steamboat Springs City Council members suggest more parking enforcement is needed | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council members suggest more parking enforcement is needed

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.

— 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.

“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.

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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 scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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