Vail Daily column: The ‘summer only’ approach to Vail’s parking problem
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. 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.vail homeowners.com.
The “summer only” approach: In November, the town of Vail reconstituted its Parking Task Force. This could have been an opportunity to address Vail’s needs in a comprehensive manner, but the Task Force’s charge was limited to only operational issues; long-range considerations were off the table.
Construction of additional public structured parking was not contemplated in the Task Force’s study plan; even though, in the winter of 2016-17, there was parking on the frontage road for 20 days and during the summer for 22 days. Overflow summer parking has now eclipsed winter on-road parking, and the summer numbers do not include days when the town of Vail accommodated construction workers on the frontage roads. The total was 40 percent in excess of the allowable 30-day limit.
As it has turned out, the focus of the Parking Task Force was even narrower; it only addressed summer parking and transportation concerns and then in only a limited, study-the-issue way.
And, after studying the summer issues, the Task Force only recommended that more studies were necessary, proposing a user study to be conducted over the summer months to determine if implementing a parking “fee” for the summer months could relieve parking demand and reallocate parking spaces to tourism by incentivizing a higher turnover frequency. Vail Village structure daily usage estimate was 60 percent tourist/20 percent employees and Lionshead Village daily usage estimate was 80 percent employees/20 percent tourist.
In addition, the Parking Task Force proposed requiring construction projects to have an off-site parking and transportation plan and increasing bus service frequency to some lesser-served outlying town of Vail neighborhoods to gauge the effect on the occupancy rate of the parking structures. No mention was made of employee off-site parking and shuttle service, but this was not a surprise from a business-dominated group.
The Vail Homeowners Association believes this type of Band-Aid approach to parking, while hopefully helpful, will not solve the fundamental lack of sufficient parking, and it will do nothing for the winter season overflow, when public safety is most acute with ice and snow on the roads and guests in ski boots. Even for the summer, the council still plans to utilize South Frontage Road for overflow parking. It’s not that alternatives are not available. The Lionshead Village structure could be expanded, a redeveloped municipal site is a potential, and even the Ever Vail location is a possibility. In addition, the $4.3 million commitment from Vail Resorts still remains as a start on financing.
As for now, it remains to be seen whether the Parking Task Force will be authorized to seek broader, long-range solutions to Vail’s parking problem.
What you can do: If these are matters that concern you, then get informed and become involved. Government responds to the public; silence only enables others with different agendas to act in your absence. If you are not already a member, then join the Vail Homeowners Association. Together, we will continue to shine a spotlight on these issues that concern everyone.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.