Vail Daily column: Is Vail being oversold?
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a Vail Homeowners Association Visioning Vail report. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
By some measures, the selling of Vail has been a huge success. People seem to be flooding into Vail in ever-larger numbers and boosting ticket sales, filling tourism beds, restaurants and bar seats. While that is unquestionably good for bottom lines, it has other consequences and raises safety and quality of life questions. Both the town and Vail Mountain have become crowded. Traffic congestion has increased, parking issues have multiplied; there is a shortage of affordable housing and on-mountain safety seems to have deteriorated. There are solutions to these problems, but they seem out of reach. Is it time for change and a new vision? The Vail Homeowners Association believes that the answer should be an emphatic “yes.”
Parking problems increase: If Frontage Road parking is a measure of the success of Vail Resorts and the town of Vail marketing programs, then by the record of this season so far, the selling of Vail has been a huge success. Already there have been 20 days of Frontage Road parking because the town’s public parking structures were full, and a total of 6632 cars have parked on the Frontage Roads. With still nearly six weeks to go in the season the town is on pace to have a record year of winter parking on the frontage roads, not that that is a record one would necessarily want. One day in particular stands out. On Jan. 17, there were almost 1,000 cars (969 to be exact) on the frontage roads. Questions continue to resound on when the first serious injury will occur.
Historically, frontage road parking was limited to 15 days during the ski season, but in 2014 the town quietly agreed with Colorado Department of Transportation to increase that limit to 30 days. That lease expires next year on May 1, 2017. What will replace it is anyone’s guess at this time. Coincidentally, there is no permission for the town to allow frontage road parking during the summer months but that has not deterred the town from doing so. It remains to be seen what the parking issues will be this coming summer as Vail Resorts brings on line the full panoply of its new on-mountain summer amusement rides.
Examining the data from this year to date, aside from Jan. 17, on every other day of on-street parking, a 600-car garage would have eliminated any on-street parking. Whether the town officials will recognize this as an urgent need to be met remains to be seen or that it uses its leverage to ban parking on the frontage roads, increase parking rates and improve down valley park and ride bus service to Vail.
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