PARKING/City frees up downtown parking for visitors
As a popular ski resort and home of the annual Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, is well-acquainted with hosting visitors. The city also has enjoyed residential growth in recent years and, as a result, it has been forced to make some accommodations, particularly for parking.
Until 1998, parking on Main Street and adjacent streets was free. Because of that, many retail business owners and employees parked close to their shops and restaurants all day without paying any fees. However, city officials realized that downtown workers were using nearly all available spaces, inhibiting visitors from finding convenient, short-term parking.
Officials voted to enhance parking and install paid parking downtown, imposing a three-hour parking limit on Main Street and a nine-hour limit on adjacent streets. That move prevents downtown workers from monopolizing parking spaces and gives visitors more parking options.
To manage the paid parking, Park City obtained “pay and display” machines from San Jose, Calif.-based Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals. The units allow downtown drivers to pay for parking at centralized locations using coins, bills or credit cards. There are 32 machines placed throughout the downtown area.
Officials selected the machines because the alternative — meters — was not feasible. The city would have needed approximately 500 double-sided meters to collect for parking in the 1,000 spaces downtown. Meter installation would have been costly and would have affected the aesthetic quality of the area, says Brian Andersen, parking operations manager for the city.
Parking downtown costs $1 per hour. Users pay at the machine for blocks of parking time and receive tickets that they place on the dashboards of their vehicles. If parkers do not pay, or if they go over the time limit, they receive tickets from local law enforcement officers.
So far, the city has been lenient on first-time offenders because of the sudden change to paid parking, Andersen notes. “Going from zero paid parking to paid parking was difficult to do,” he explains. “There was a lot of opposition from business owners and residents.”
To accommodate the difficulties encountered by the sudden change, city officials met with residents and publicized the change through public service announcements and the media. Since the initial backlash two years ago, complaints have decreased, Andersen says.
The city is continuing to work on downtown parking to maximize available space, manage businesses’ needs and better accommodate visitors, who, in 2002, will include Olympic patrons. (Nearby Salt Lake City is the host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and Park City will be hosting several events.) The city also is investigating the possibility of constructing a multi-floor garage and reworking an existing four-story parking structure.