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Fewer parking permits for renters in Denver, CO

| November 19, 2013

Exploding population growth and a fixed, on-street parking supply are causing headaches for apartment dwellers and policymakers alike in Denver, Colorado. Two weeks ago the city attempted to pass new rules regarding its parking regulations, but controversy halted the planned proceedings when renters got wind of the proposed changes.

Under the new rules, the number of residential parking permits will be capped for those in buildings with nine or more rental units. Currently, more than 20,000 such permits have been issued, allowing their holders to park beyond the two-hour limit on the blocks where they live. Like many residential parking permits issued by cities nationwide, the permits “do not guarantee a parking spot,” Matt Wager, director of traffic operations, told the media last week.

Denver parking lot

A Denver parking lot, as seen from the air. Via Heath Alseike.

Emily Williams, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW), emphasized that the city won’t be “taking your permit away. It’s just giving us more tools to manage parking.”

Sugar3 building

Denver’s Sugar3 building. From Paul Swanson.

With a population growth rate that has consistently outpaced the national average in every decade since the 1930s, Denver has struggled in recent years to meet parking demand in the city, especially in densely populated neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill. At the same time, technological advances now allow enforcers to more quickly discover when motorists are not parked in the blocks designated for their permits, resulting in more tickets.

Barry Zimmer, a resident of Capitol Hill, told the press last week that he’s “looking to move and 90 percent of that is because of parking. If I get a spot on the street, then I don’t want to move my car. I want to stay there a few days. I go out less, take cabs. It’s all just because of parking.”

To senior parking manager Cindy Patton, it’s clear that the permits’ efficacy has diminished. “If you want them to be effective, we need to issue less of them because the number of spaces on the streets is not changing,” she said at the public meeting that the city held last week about the issue.

While that may be the case, one attendee asked Patton, “Why are people in some kinds of building being given less opportunity to hunt [for spaces] than people in smaller buildings?”

“I just don’t think they like renters,” Nancy Burke said about city parking officials. The vice president of government affairs for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver has written to the DPW about the matter in the past, citing the roughly 15,000 citizens in more than 8,500 apartment units that would be affected by the proposed regulations.

Also proposed are possible fees: up to $40 each year for residential permits and up to $200 for new permits. If approved, the fees would not go into effect until after 2014. Today permit holders must renew their permits annually; in the past, renewals were required every three years. The change was passed last December, when the city council also approved a bill that allowed the city to develop new parking permits for special circumstances or zones.

Category: Parking, Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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