Less parking could mean cheaper Vail housing | VailDaily.com

Less parking could mean cheaper Vail housing

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Just how much parking do Vail, Colorado seasonal employees need?

It’s a question the town of Vail is asking as it considers requiring less parking for future employee housing developments and allowing developers to provide for transportation needs in other ways, such as building bike paths or contributing to the bus system.

Right now, parking requirements are the same for employee housing and single-family homes and is based on square footage, said George Ruther, Vail’s community development director.

Employee housing projects usually end up having 1.5 to 3 parking spaces per apartment. However, employees who live in “dormitory style” housing such as Middle Creek Village and Timber Ridge in Vail, often own fewer cars than a typical family, Ruther said.

Town officials said they think separate requirements are needed for employee housing projects, so that land can be better used for housing.

“It’s an issue of how much land is dedicated to parking cars versus housing people,” Ruther said. “We can be better utilizing our resources.”

Less parking might also help keep employee housing affordable.

“(Parking) adds a lot of cost,” said Mike Coughlin, the developer for Vail’s Middle Creek. “Underground parking, especially, is very expensive and it gets passed onto the renter.”

Middle Creek has about 245 mostly underground spots for 142 apartments.

The town hopes to come up with modified, more specific requirements, Ruther said.

The council said they want to expand the options for developers who want to meet transportation needs in alternative ways.

For example, instead of simply building parking spaces, developers could add paths or build the homes within walking distance of the bus line.

Vail Town Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said she wants to see what other communities are doing in similar situations. For example, one developer in Palo Alto, Calif., bought three vehicles and managed a car share program for residents, she said.

However, some council members were concerned that lowering the requirements might result in a parking shortage.

Vail Town Councilman Farrell Hitt said he wants to see a study done to determine what the actual need for parking is in employee housing complexes.

“I’d like to see the realities of that here in town,” he said.

Councilman Andy Daly said that the lower number of international visa workers in town this year might affect the need for parking, too.

“Most (international workers) don’t have access to a car or don’t drive. That has historically reduced the need for parking in employee housing,” he said.

Domestic workers are more likely to have a car, he said.

The Planning and Environmental Commission will make recommendations on the new requirements in the next few weeks. The matter will come before the Town Council again on Dec. 16.

Staff writer Melanie Wong can be reached at (970) 748-2928 or at mwong@vaildaily.com.

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