Real Time Resource Shows Available Parking In Estes Park

In 2018, the Town Board adopted the Downtown Parking Management Plan (DPMP: www.estes.org/parkingmanagement) to more actively manage the Town's limited public parking areas. DPMP was designed as a phased approach that would introduce parking management in a data-driven and transparent way. It had four goals:

  1. Promote turnover (length of parking stay) and manage occupancy (how full a parking lot feels and actually is) to provide increased availability for locals and visitors;
  2. Encourage use of parking facilities on the edge of downtown (parking structure and Events Complex) for longer-term stays;
  3. Improve multi-modal transportation options; and
  4. Identify cost-effective ways to expand the parking supply.

Prior to the DPMP, numerous parking and/or transportation studies were completed by the Town (stretching back to the early 2000s), many of which indicated that Estes Park was ready for paid parking.

What has been done to understand the parking experiences of residents, businesses and guests?

Town staff has implemented DPMP Phase I, which included introduction of time-limited parking (30-min, 1-hr and 3-hr) in some areas of downtown, dedicated Parking Ambassadors, implementation of technology to help collect data and better manage existing parking resources, improved communication through use of the Dynamic Messaging Signs on U.S. 34 and U.S. 36, improved web resources and a new parking app (Estes Parking).

How has the community been engaged and informed about the paid parking discussion?

Town staff conducted a Downtown Parking Listening Tour in July, August and September 2019. This process was broadly promoted by the Town and Visit Estes Park. Nearly 400 individuals provided feedback at meetings, as part of "on the street" surveys, through public comment at the Transportation Advisory Board monthly meeting, via comment form at the front desk of the Estes Valley Library and through the Town's online feedback form. Staff also visited dozens of downtown businesses and logged phone call and email feedback as part of the public engagement process.

What is proposed?

On October 8, Town staff shared the results of DPMP Phase I with the Town Board at a Study Session. The video is available via www.estes.org/videos. The data showed that while overall occupancy has decreased about 5%, during peak times of day during the summer (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), most downtown lots are extremely full or full. Bottom line, the threshold to move from DPMP Phase I to Phase II (Seasonal Paid Parking) in the majority of downtown lots had been achieved. As such, staff provided the Town Board with options to consider for 2020:

Option 1: DPMP "Pause" / do not make any major changes in 2020

Option 2: Implement DPMP Phase II (seasonal paid parking)

As the decision rests with the Town Board, the Board could always direct Town staff to identify other options.

If the Town proceeds with seasonal paid parking, what could that look like in 2020? (possible scenario)

  • Introduction of seasonal paid parking for around 700 spaces, which is approximately 30% of the overall parking supply. The remaining 70% of the Town's public parking would remain free.
  • The areas that have been identified by staff for paid parking include: Town Hall lot, Bond Park, E. Riverside, Riverside, Post Office, Tregent and a portion of Weist. See the Town's parking map at www.estes.org/parking reference.
  • Parking would likely be paid June 1 - September 30, 2020. The rest of the year, parking would be free.
  • On Oct. 22, staff will present five pricing scenarios for the Board to consider, at a Study Session.

If they choose to proceed, the Trustees would set the parking rates for 2020 in a Fee Resolution that would likely be presented at a Regular Town Board Meeting in November.

  • Pricing likely starts at $1.50 or $2.00 per hour for all scenarios. This is in line with pricing from peer communities across Colorado and the Front Range, who are currently charging for parking. A list of what other communities are charging and their rates can be found in the Town Board Packet for Oct. 22 (www.estes.org/boardsandmeetings).
  • With each pricing scenario, staff are recommending that the Board consider providing some amount of free daily parking for residents and/or visitors, ranging from 15-minutes free to 1-hour free each day.
  • The goal would be to operate the parking system as an enterprise fund, similar to a utility, whereby revenues would cover program costs and then could be used to fund other community initiatives like increased transit service, bike share, etc.
  • A robust parking permit system would accompany implementation of seasonal paid parking. This would include enhancing the existing residential permits and adding a new employee permit.
  • Employees would not be required to have a permit if they choose to park in any of the 70% of parking spaces that would remain free and open, however employees will not be required to park anywhere specific.
  • Employers would not be required to purchase permits for their employees.
  • Permit prices have not been set, however the permits will not be "market priced". A permit pricing structure would be presented to the downtown employee and business community for feedback and input prior to implementation. The point of parking permits for Estes Park is not to make money but to manage behavior.
  • Specific technology has not yet been identified to implement paid parking; however, it is likely that the Town would consider kiosks (versus individual meters) with an option to pay by app, phone and/or text message.
  • It is anticipated that implementing seasonal paid parking would cost approximately $450,000 in new funds for 2020. Depending on the pricing scenario selected by the Board, the program could support itself and begin to generate modest net revenue by 2021. Again, the point of seasonal paid parking for Estes Park is not to make money but to manage behavior.

How can I provide input?

The Town continues to encourage your input on this important issue. Watch the Town Board study session Oct. 22 and make comment during the public comment period at the regular 7 p.m. meeting. Meeting materials are posted at www.estes.org/boardsandmeetings. Meetings are streamed and recorded at www.estes.org/videos. Written comments to the Town Board may also be provided by emailing townclerk@estes.org. It is anticipated that the Board will provide staff with direction on Oct. 22 on next steps for the seasonal paid parking discussion. If Trustees are in favor of moving forward with implementation, staff will bring an Ordinance authorizing seasonal paid parking in 2020 and an accompanying Fee Resolution (to set specific dates, times, hours, rates, locations, etc.) to the Board's Regular Meeting and Public Hearing, likely Nov. 12. If the Board indicates that it is not in favor of moving the process forward, staff will proceed with a 2020 work plan that does not include seasonal paid parking.

Who can I contact with questions?

For more information on the DPMP and the Town's parking management program, please contact Parking and Transit Manager Vanessa Solesbee at vsolesbee@estes.org or 970-577-3957.

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