In March, Avon began planning and implementing a parking management program, which would include paid parking during the upcoming ski season.
While work began under the direction of the city council, the continuation of the parking program did not meet with unanimous approval. And at the July 26 meeting, the differing opinions of council members resurfaced, which will cause the city to review the implementation of the plan in the near future.
Avon has begun discussions on a possible parking plan in November 2021 to address low skier parking turnover in some areas, overuse of Leisure Center parking, lack of parking at Nottingham Park and to the lack of overnight and oversized parking in town.
From the start, board members were divided on how best to handle these identified challenges. Some council members were against any form of paid parking; some supported paid parking in some high-traffic downtown areas; and most agreed that something needed to be done to better enforce city parking restrictions and zones.
Council’s directive – given by a slim majority of council members – at the March 22 meeting was for city staff to pursue a parking management plan, which included paid parking on the ski shuttle route of the city as well as hiring a parking management company and an in-house parking supervisor to manage the program.
According to a report in the file of the municipal council of July 26 – a report that kicked off the board’s discussion at the meeting on the issue – the city has already hired a company and a supervisor for the program. The package also outlines that the city is purchasing a parking management software subscription and a car-mounted license plate reader for the implementation.
Risetek Global, it reads, has been hired to “provide turnkey support, such as providing a 24/7 customer service hotline, parking fee collection and offence, and parking permits/validations”.
The program itself has several key components, according to the report. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Free parking for the first three hours from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. in all the town squares;
- Paid parking (at a cost of $2 per hour) after the first three hours along the shuttle route for skiers when Beaver Creek Mountain is open;
- No overnight parking except on the site of the old town hall;
- $40 parking permit at Old City Hall;
- Leisure center parking reserved for guests, with validation available for guests for three hours and $50 fee for violators; and
- A three-hour year-round limit at the Avon Library and Avon City Hall.
The report also includes a renewed plan for enforcing new and existing rules as well as establishing fees for violations.
The program is expected to officially start in October 2022 with a rollout and grace period beginning in September, and paid parking starting November 23, 2022.
However, on July 26, challenges raised initially by Council Member Scott Prince – then supported and reiterated to varying degrees by Members RJ Andrade, Lindsay Hardy and Chico Thuon – may cause the city to review the program and its rollout.
“I’m strongly against this program,” Prince said, adding that he believed the program would impact the “wrong base”, not really solving the city’s parking problems, and would not reach the aim to have more seat rotation in premium locations. .
“People who go to park there are willing to pay, while local workers are not. I really see it as a tax and an impact on our local workers,” he said.
Additionally, Prince expressed concerns about the economics of the program and its ability to cover the costs of running the program. And overall, addressing his comments specifically to the Vail Daily, Prince said he wanted it on record that he had been “fiercely opposed” to the program from the start of talks.
Andrade, echoing some of Prince’s concerns, called it a “horrible idea” to charge people to park anywhere, adding that he didn’t think the city had a parking problem. .
“Each business in our commercial core has its own parking lot and all of that is going to do now in addition to charging residents to park, as a business like me, is now going to have to watch my own lot because people are always going to be looking for a place to park,” he said.
In defense of the program, Eva Wilson, Avon Mobility Manager, said it’s not just about paid parking, it’s also about management.
“Really, the impetus for managed parking isn’t just paid parking, it’s managed parking. We really have a reputation that our parking is not managed; people park everywhere,” Wilson said, adding that “nothing has really changed from the historic three-hour free parking for everyone,” except that the city would now seasonally charge for some “premium spots.”
Council member Amy Phillips added her support for the idea, saying the program allows “revenues and enforcement to flow out of the police department and into the hands of mobility and transportation, which have already the staff who go in this direction and go to be able to take care of the parking lot.
Along the same lines, Council Member Tamra Underwood said the city needs to start managing parking now, even though the plan wasn’t perfect and the program was going in a different direction down the road.
“We have to start somewhere; we are a real city and we have to manage parking in our city,” she said. “It’s a beginning.”
With four council members expressing concerns about at least some aspects of the parking program, City Manager Eric Heil said staff would bring it back to council at one of its August meetings for further discussion.
“It doesn’t have to be implemented immediately, (but) personally I think we’ll get there eventually,” Heil said.