More parking thoughts…

No Barbieland sequel from me this week although some of the discussion at Monday’s Crested Butte town council meeting made me go Oppenheimer since it blew my mind (kidding). Boom! 

While the Crested Butte march to reduce the number of parking spaces in town continues and I have little doubt the march will not stop anytime soon, credit to the council for not rushing in all at once to ban cars from the town and for really taking a breath and taking a step back from where they were a couple weeks ago. 

It’s a good decision to continue the free two-hour grace period for people parking on Sopris and Maroon Avenues near the Elk Avenue business district. A few years ago, council had listened to people complaining about problems with the one-hour time limit, issued a solution with a longer grace period, and then this month were thinking about going back to the problem equation. They didn’t. Allowing people to park near the core business center of town without the threat of getting a ticket 60 minutes after shutting the car door is a reasonable decision. That family of four from Tulsa can comfortably order the crème brûlée for dessert after their 5:30 dinner. I know I’ve parked in those areas and not having to worry about seeing a yellow ticket on the windshield after dinner is a relief.

The council did essentially take a good chunk of parking spaces out of play Monday night and while I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, it seems their decision to make it harder for people to park longer than two hours near Mountain Express bus stops along Sixth Street during ski season could actually result in more people not riding a bus than more people hopping on a bus. Boom?

I hear the goal to discourage non-CB residents from parking on town streets when they want to catch the dog bus to roll between Crested Butte and the ski area. Staff data indicates “parking management” is an effective tool to change people’s behavior. No doubt. Council approved the staff idea to put a two-hour time limit on parking in the neighborhoods around the Teocalli Avenue bus stop and the Four-Way. About 148 new spaces will now fall under that restriction and essentially takes them out of the park-and-ride pool. The main Visitor’s Center parking lot is also used for snow storage so that fluctuates in terms of spaces. Ideally, town officials want people going for a couple ski laps to catch the RTA bus somewhere south of CB.

For the scofflaws that still drive into CB, they hope to see them use the Visitor’s Center parking lot that has no time limit (at the moment), the school parking lot (which has been used for overflow parking on huge ski days in the past), or the CBMR lots on the mountain. As Mt. CB resident Laura Puckett Daniels mentioned to the council Monday, big decisions can have both intended and unintended consequences. 

Town reps don’t like the idea of being the overflow parking lot for CBMR. To me that is bad framing. Council and staff should perhaps look at the positive environmental impact and the reduction of end of the day congestion on Gothic Road they are mitigating by offering people an alternative to not drive up and down the two-lane road. That’s a win.

As one of the out-of-towners that parks-and-rides to get on the Mountain Express primarily in the winter, it just seems pushing cars away from a bus stop pushes people away from using the bus. While I will park in other places or deal with the longer walk, others won’t. Given the steady convenience and layout configuration of the Mountain Express buses, I doubt most other park-and-riders will do the RTA shuffle. The RTA is less a ski shuttle and more an employee transit vehicle. It works really well in that regard.

So while I could be wrong (again), I see some people moving to park in other CB neighborhoods — giving town a reason to further expand parking limits next year — or driving up to the ski area (until the town asks CBMR to charge a big fee to discourage parking up there). More carbon, more congestion, more tweaked people, more hassle for working people trying to cobble together a life in the valley. I appreciate the council saying they would monitor the situation closely next winter and be prepared to reconsider the decision if issues come up. 

And actually, my mind wasn’t all that blown by the parking discussion. Aside from some statistics used to shore up the staff argument, it was not surprising, and I appreciate the transparency involved in their discussion—but I wanted to get in a cheap Oppenheimer movie reference after last week. In the ideal world, cars would not be the tools we use here at the end of the road, but they are. I will continue to disagree on this issue with my friends on council and in town hall. 

Here’s a mind blower idea…it might get to the point where the most efficient ski day move is to pack up the CB South family in the Suburban, drive to the Mt. CB town hall or Snodgrass and ping FirstTracks for the free ride to the base area. Unintended consequence? Boom! 

—Mark Reaman

Check Also

CB’s latest parking direction — Barbieland or Kendom?

Travel is good for so many reasons. It broadens the mind, changes perspective, exposes one …