Our view: Roping in more parking


We support City Council President Walter Magill’s proposal to create an estimated 100 new remote parking spots by paving the dirt parking at Romick Rodeo Arena. But even though we admire Magill’s consistent efforts through the years to address our downtown parking problem, we don’t buy the logic that 100 new spaces at the rodeo grounds would put off the need to impose paid parking on the downtown commercial district.

At issue

Making the most of our parking opportunities

Our view

Paid parking in Steamboat Springs is inevitable

Editorial board: February through May 2017

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Jim Patterson, evening editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Steve Ivancie, community representative
  • Paul Stettner, community representative
  • Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

We see paid parking as an inevitability and expect traffic congestion to ease within weeks of installing such as system.

We also believe that, instead of beautifying the current entrance to the rodeo grounds, as the council president has suggested, the city should move the entrance to a new location that won’t cause cars headed for events at Howelsen Hill to back up at the railroad crossing. If city officials don’t believe that’s a problem, they can ask their own community service officers and the Howelsen Hill maintenance staff.

Breckenridge became the latest Colorado mountain town to institute paid parking in its historic downtown in December 2016, and part of that town's motivation was to reduce the number of vehicles that clogged side streets while they circled in search of an open parking spot. Another desire was to have 15 percent of the on-street spaces in the historic town available at any given time. A town official told the Summit Daily on Feb. 16 that goal had been nearly realized, with exceptions at certain times of the day on certain days of the week.

Even with fleets of condominium shuttle vans taking much of the parking pressure off Old Town Steamboat, we’ve all experienced the need to drive alleyways and hover while people carrying shopping bags approach their parked vehicles so we can swoop in.

We think new paved parking at the rodeo arena, which is used a relative handful of days each year, is an ideal place for employees of downtown businesses to park so their customers can park closer.

Magill rationalized that paving the dirt portion of the rodeo parking lot would be cheaper than building a parking structure, and that’s certainly true; we haven’t forgotten what parking consultant Scott Martin concluded in 2014: Building a 100-space parking lot at the site of the current Eighth Street surface parking lot would cost $2 million. The parking site would loom behind the historic buildings on Lincoln Avenue while throwing shadows on Oak Street. We’ll take paid parking over an ugly parking structure that would be a blight on downtown.

We aren’t oblivious to the fact that many local residents and second homeowners loathe paid parking. But we’ve all been to other mountain towns, from Jackson, Wyoming, to Aspen to Telluride to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and experienced how well they work. Nobody fumbles in their pockets to feed meters anymore. Instead, they go to a kiosk to purchase parking with their debit cards and their mobile devices.

The 100 parking spots Magill’s plan would provide will be offset as soon as the former Yampa Valley Electric Association parking lot on 10th Street is redeveloped. And where will we be then? The answer is, we’ll be desperately in need of a high-tech paid parking system that will ensure parking spots turn over regularly, allowing guests and locals alike to enjoy some of Steamboat’s best downtown restaurants and shopping opportunities. Those activities will, in turn, fund city operations with sales tax revenues.

Paid parking doesn’t discourage people from shopping in busy downtown districts; it makes it easier to frequent independent retailers’ shops. Paid parking works.

Let’s get on with it.


Cresean Sterne 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Well someone didn't read the Breckenridge article.. Pd parking is a horrible idea and will make parking in the residential areas of this little town absolutely miserable for those who live on the side street such Oak and so on.. This has  been brought up repeatedly and now Breckenridge is feeling serious draw back on their now parking problem which did not exist on any side street until parking meeters were installed. Can we finally put this pd parking mumbo jumbo to rest and get on with other more important issues that steamboat truly has... IMO, (parking is not one of them) unless there is a major event down town. Isn't that what our great bus ,shuttle system and core trail are here for. If it does come down to installing some sort of parking relief, a parking garage is the best alternative IMO... Its kind of funny how we have 2 parking garages at ski time square yet it is an issue to have one downtown.. As far as I know there are no parking issues at the ski area unless the knolls lot is being used for an event and even then, one only has to wait a few minutes on a shuttle... If you didn't read the Breck article, it is in the march 4th issue under news from our neighbors.. I did a search so I could attach it but couldn't locate it under the search archives for some reason???


Jayson Belyea 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I just love how Magill (and even that other guy that comments on every single article) want to take credit for the rodeo parking idea, when it is an idea that has been tossed around for years and years and years. We discussed it when I was a member of the parking committee, a decade ago. However, like pretty much every idea that has been thrown out there, it was poo-poo'd. Lack of accessibility being the biggest complaint. Even though it's not really that far, there is only a couple of ways to get there, which may make it quite a haul from your intended destination, downtown. And though paid parking may deter downtown employees from parking on the downtown streets, it will most assuredly prompt them to park on the neighborhood streets, as is the concern of local residents. The reality is, the best option is to build a garage in the downtown core, centrally located and inexpensive to use. However, how this could/would be paid for is another story, as it would likely cost as much as an entire year's operating budget for the city, if not considerably more, to build (most assuredly more, as it's inevitable construction is put off year after year). If you build it, they will come.


Scott Wedel 1 month, 2 weeks ago

A downtown parking garage is millions of dollars. It is about $30,000 per parking spot and that includes the existing first floor parking spots. So the cost is closer to $60,000 per new parking space. Add up the costs and it is not inexpensive parking.

The typical consequence of imposing downtown paid parking is a lot of people parking in the adjacent residential neighborhood. No government should be so inept to be surprised by that. Thus, downtown paid parking usually resulting in permit parking in the adjacent residential neighborhoods. Which means that usually the tipping point for downtown paid parking is when the residential neighborhoods are already so overrun with people going downtown parking in their neighborhood that they want permit parking.

The downtown parking issue seems to be a matter of definitions in terms of people wanting parking within 50 or 100 feet of their destination. Well, that is just not realistic in a successful downtown.

The rodeo parking lot is close to stores/restaurants compared to what is likely to be found in other downtown areas and shopping malls.

The current downtown parking plan is flawed in that it is 2 hours in that spot so then employees just move to another 2 hour spot. Other cities have districts which are limited to 2 hours per day so then employees are prevented from parking in short term parking.

I would also suggest that downtown district consider working together to use the rodeo parking lot as a valet parking lot in peak periods. That would be a benefit liked by customers as it would allow front door service and valet parking can squeeze in a lot more cars into a lot.


j mcginnis 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I am aware that parking has been under discussion for years. However, I would, in all seriousness, like a better explanation of what "our downtown parking problem" is. There are times when I need to walk a few minutes to my destination after finding a space, but I always find a space. The only time it has been a real burden is during Winter Carnival, which is one weekend a year. If paid parking is put into place downtown, then I would guess resident parking permits would eventually become required so people and their guests could park near their own homes. If retail employees need a space for extended periods, then the involved parties should sit down and try to find a solution. I think there are other options to consider before building a parking garage.


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