Two-hour parking on Elk, permits on Sopris and Maroon
[ By Kendra Walker ]
Parking along Elk and neighboring side streets will look a little different this summer, and that’s not just because town is bringing back the seasonal one-way reconfiguration and outdoor overflow for businesses. In a 5-1 vote, the Crested Butte town council agreed to move forward with a pilot parking management plan with the goal to relieve parking congestion on popular streets and open up spots for residents with limited parking options.
Based off of parking data from studies done earlier this year, town staff has developed a one-year parking management plan with Interstate Parking that will enforce two-hour parking on Elk Avenue and permit parking along Sopris and Maroon for residents and employees.
Elk Avenue two-hour parking will be enforced between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the summer and winter seasons. Two 10-minute parking spaces will be available across from the post office. Neighborhood permits will be distributed to residents and employees for parking along Sopris and Maroon. Every residence with insufficient off-street parking will receive free parking permits, one free visitor permit and short-term rental permits, if necessary.
Approximately 100 additional permits will be available for businesses located within the Elk Avenue corridor to acquire. Each business will receive one free parking permit, with the remaining surplus permits distributed based on size and use of business and if the business has paid a fee in lieu.
Anyone without permits will still be able to park for less than two hours along Elk or in the town’s long-term parking lots. Community development director Troy Russ also noted that employees will still be asked to park in long-term parking as there will not be enough parking permits for Sopris and Maroon to accommodate all Elk Avenue employees. For special events and festivals where Elk Avenue is closed off, staff said they will work with Interstate for additional satellite parking areas, such as the community school parking lot.
The summer program will begin June 22, with enforcement beginning July 5 and running through October 15. The winter program will run from December 17 to April 3, 2022.
The cost of the program is $80,000 with an anticipated $35,000 in revenue based on fines. Interstate will manage and enforce the parking. Town staff and the council will review the permit program after one year to re-evaluate how it’s going and then will consider developing a permit fee structure.
Mayor Jim Schmidt and councilmember Will Dujardin expressed reservations with Sopris and Maroon only being available to permitted residents and employees, noting that plenty of locals who live in CB South or Mt. Crested Butte tend to avoid Elk altogether and rely on those side streets.
“I think those side streets still function as overflow and I would hope we would make those zones part of the two-hour parking as well,” said Dujardin. “I know our town is going to hit capacity and people are going to try to hit the side streets as they turn around to find another parking spot. Some of these baby steps I think are really good, but we have to respect those side streets for what they are and include them in the two-hour flow…Not having the option to park there unless you have an employee or neighborhood permit is overstepping the ask.”
“My goal is to do the enforcement on Elk Avenue,” said Schmidt. “I don’t think we should give permits to the businesses, I don’t think they need them…I just think that the employee permits on Sopris and Maroon are too much.”
“We’re going to have higher turnover and more spaces on Elk than there are today,” said Russ. “We really need the permit program to complement the two-hour enforcement to make it work.”
Councilmember Mona Merrill noted watching a similar program implemented in Breckenridge. “I’m not a parking management professional, and initially I would think the same as Jim and Will… but I get how the whole system has to be fluid to work. I did watch it evolve in Breckenridge and I was actually kind of surprised at how well it worked. I wouldn’t mind trying it but making sure we could make tweaks to it along the way.”
“There will be a lot of feedback between Interstate and staff… and we can adjust pretty easily,” said Russ. “There will be a learning curve in the first month or two.”
“I think it’s a well thought-out pilot program,” said councilmember Jason MacMillan. “Perhaps that will encourage people to use the long-term parking.”
“We don’t have a parking issue, we have parking management issue,” said councilmember Chris Haver. “When we don’t have a parking plan everybody’s kind of parked everywhere pushing everyone off Elk.”
Citizen Kent Cowherd encouraged the council to adopt the plan. “We are a bicycle and pedestrian town. What’s the big deal in making it a little hard for cars? I think we should recognize the studies and the data and adopt the plan as presented.”
“There’s going to be a lot of space on Elk Avenue,” said Gareth Lloyd of Interstate. “The vast majority of two-hour parkers are going to have a place to park. Based on the data and what we’ve observed we think this is a great first step.”
The council voted 5-1 to amend the budget to accommodate the required $80,000 from the General Fund to implement the plan, with mayor Schmidt voting against it. “I hope it works,” he said. Residential and employee permit application and distribution will take place from May 18 to June 21.