Trying again with parking |

Trying again with parking

Don Rogers

Correctly, we think, the merchants see locals passing up opportunities to come to Vail to do business with the elimination of the “Free after 3” and especially with the end of the 90-minute free parking, replaced by a measely half-hour. In a place where people won’t spend a quarter for a newspaper, even a dollar for parking that used to be free will have an effect.

Unfortunately, Vail is doing a whale of a job in several ways of telling locals to just stay downvalley. Vail has already done this with the largely second-home owner crowd fighting the Middle Creek affordable housing complex with a lot of arguments that add up to hooey, and little things like eliminating free first beers and hotdogs at Friday night block parties.

The mad hunt to increase revenue from parking – to the tune of an estimated extra $380,000 while spending $360,000 on new parking meters and gates to help “achieve” this – only digs a deeper hole for the town.

There must be a better way than this, and kudos to the Town Council for agreeing to reconvene the parking task force.

One better way to deal with employees exploiting the previous system in the structures is to set up free parking in a satellite location with a shuttle just for in-town workers. Why charge people working jobs that pay so modestly? It can’t be that much of a burden to set up complimentary parking, which in turn would free up more paid spaces in the structures.

Free after 3, if we understand this correctly, was timed so that paid parking for the skiers would change at an appropriate time for visitors coming to Vail for the stores and restaurants. Waiting until 5 goes beyond the skiers, and will have an effect on motorists who park free elsewhere. But our bigger concern is for the formerly free 90 minutes, which gives you time to shop or eat during the day without the extra charge, to 30 minutes. That gives you time for very little, and will give vistors one more reason to stay downvalley.

Vail’s new parking scheme aims to gain some additional change in revenue, once those meters and gates are paid for, but it will likely lose a lot more, and not just in goodwill with the rest of the Vail Valley community. Tempting in harder times, to be sure, but grabbing for extra cash flow may well have just the opposite effect.

Fairness counts

As for those infamous 58 phone messages for the council on the very day that they met at noon, a lesson in Lobbying 101:

Give your targets some time to respond. A day or two of lead time would have come across more like genuine input and a bit less like a political gambit. Want fairness? Be fair. D.R.

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