By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Drivers would be allowed to park overnight in downtown Denver at city meters for a total of $9 over a 12-hour period, according to a proposal unveiled to a City Council committee yesterday.
The overnight downtown parking proposal was developed in response to concerns from residents and businesses about guests and customers not having access to late night parking in popular downtown hot spots.
In addition to adding flexibility, the proposal might also discourage drivers from operating their vehicles while drunk, say supporters of the proposal. Some intoxicated drivers choose to drive rather than leave their cars downtown overnight because they are trying to avoid the $25 parking ticket associated with violating meter restrictions.
“Our current policy encourages people to drive drunk,” Councilwoman Carla Madison said yesterday during a meeting of the Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “If they’re parked on the street, they can’t leave their car on the street, they have to get in their car, and the best case scenario is they drive to a lot to leave it overnight. This way, if somebody’s been drinking and shouldn’t be driving, they can just pay the meter, leave their car there and come back and get it.”
Drivers would be permitted to leave their cars overnight in downtown Denver for 12 hours from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Meter rates would be as follows:
• 50 cents per hour 6 a.m.-8 a.m.;
• $1 per hour 8 a.m.-10 p.m. with a two-hour limit ending at 8 p.m.;
• $1 per hour 10 p.m.-2 a.m.;
• 50 cents per hour 2 a.m.-6 a.m.; and
• No charge on Sunday, with a two-hour limit from midnight-10 p.m., but no limit from 10 p.m.- 8 a.m.
The city’s recent installation of so-called Smart Meters across downtown Denver is allowing the city to move forward with the proposal. Smart Meters would flash if the parking spot is permitted for overnight parking, and drivers would be able to use credit/debit cards to authorize the transaction, rather than feeding the meter $9 in change.
The area would include the Central Business District, including Interstate 25 east to Lincoln, and 20th Street to Colfax Avenue.
The program would start in early 2011 if it is approved.
Questions were raised over whether the new program would impact snow removal or street cleaning operations.
But because the program would only authorize alternate sides of the street for overnight parking, Public Works does not believe the new program would impact operations.
The downtown community appears to be responding well to the proposal. A spokeswoman for the Downtown Denver Partnership called the proposal an “amenity” that would “only enhance downtown.”
“Overnight parking is always an amenity in an urban center,” said Sarah Neumann, spokeswoman for the Downtown Denver Partnership. “It’s just another amenity to promote downtown.”
For the proposal to take effect, the City Council must eliminate the current maximum five-hour duration limitation for parked vehicles. It is likely that the City Council will approve the proposal by taking the legislative action.