City council candidates think downtown parking an issue
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council candidates on Wednesday tackled one of the city’s most controversial issues: downtown parking.
At a forum focused on issues important to downtown retailers, many of the candidates identified parking as the biggest challenge downtown businesses currently face.
Several candidates suggested they would want to make changes to the parking system early in their council careers.
“It’s time to get off the dime and get going,” District 1 candidate Patrick Slowey said.
Candidates expressed interest in a parking structure or more parking capacity, but differed on how to fund such enhancements.
About half the candidates expressed an openness to the possibility of a lift ticket tax to fund local parking improvements and transit, while the others seemed leery of a lift ticket tax and feared it could make the tickets less appealing.
Candidate Robin Crossan said it “shouldn’t be one entity we ask to help fix one problem that affects everyone.”
Several candidates said public private partnerships will be key to solving the parking issue.
Other ideas floated included a shuttle to Howelsen Hill or other lots near the downtown area.
After years of studies, but no great changes, downtown parking has resurfaced as an issue in the past two years.
Some in the city see parking as a major issue, while others say they don’t see a problem.
But with a third of the city’s 2,800 downtown spaces privately owned, a majority of current city council members and the candidates believe the issue needs to be addressed before parking becomes even more limited.
After the city commissioned a parking study, the current council came within one vote or ordering parking meters for one of the few downtown corridors on the Western Slope that remains free of them.
None of the current crop of candidates advocated for parking meters as a first course of action, but some said the idea should be on the table.
Instead of meters, the city has, in recent months, taken other, less drastic steps to open up more parking spaces downtown.
These include new way-finding signage to lots off Lincoln Avenue and the restriping of existing spaces to increase capacity.
The city also partnered with the developer who is repurposing the former Yampa Valley Electric Association headquarters on Yampa Street to temporarily use a large, private parking lot for public parking.
Acting City Manager Anne Small said Friday the city is not currently planning any other major parking changes, but potential changes could be discussed if the council decides to make downtown parking a workshop topic in the coming months.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10
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