We’ve put up with a lot in the last 12+ months, thanks to the pandemic. We’ve faithfully worn our masks to the grocery store, post office and other places, scraping the ice off our eyeglasses due to condensation once the weather turned cold. We’ve Zoomed our little hearts out attending public meetings and connecting with friends and relatives. We’ve maintained six feet of distance. We’ve turned up for our COVID-19 vaccinations despite, in some cases, the side effects. (OK, some of us haven’t done any of these things, but that’s another column for another time.)

And now we face yet another loss that doesn’t directly relate to COVID. I speak instead of parking spaces. Yes, parking spaces. You see, the private parking signs that have long gladdened the hearts of many Leadville city dwellers are once again up for discussion. I’m particularly focused on myself and others who do not have garages or driveways and live on a single lot on the first block off Harrison Avenue. Many of us have, for a number of years, paid the city $100 each year to reserve a parking space in front of our homes. (Please note I’m being completely transparent here. This is a very self-serving column.)

Over the years, I have heard comments that the city does not have the right to sell parking spaces in the public right-of-way and should cease doing so. Fears of possible lawsuits are sometimes mentioned, though in past years, I’ve never heard of lawsuits being filed for this purpose, and the city couldn’t come up with any examples, either.

Following a little research, it appears that the signs go back to at least 1994. They were instituted, according to the municipal code, because “certain property owners in the city are unable to find parking spaces in front of their residences because of extreme traffic congestion and overflow from the commercial areas in the city.” It also states that property owners with a business license and a sales tax license also can purchase an exclusive parking privilege in front of their property. This generally applies to rentals.

When I bought my house, I didn’t initially obtain an “exclusive parking privilege” because I wanted to see how it went (and save the $100). The problem that developed with finding parking mostly came from rental units, both short and long-term, that often had more than one vehicle. Anyhow, I gave in and got a private parking sign. A number of the rental units did the same.

Now parking is up for discussion and study once again. Not just private parking, but all parking.

On April 14, I attended the Leadville Parking Assessment Advisory Meeting. It became a little clearer what was being possibly envisioned for the city when it came to parking, and also touched on snow removal, something that impacts the parking situation. According to a recent online survey, some 63 percent of those surveyed believe parking should be on a first come, first served basis. In other words, ditch the private parking program. I don’t know how many of those people actually live in Leadville. Not sure how many are faced with having to park in the street due to a lack of driveway or garage. Generally speaking, online surveys tend to capture a younger demographic, but I don’t know about this one. It’s true that the older one gets, the more attractive convenient parking becomes.

One alternative that seemed to have some favor was the idea of having residential parking permits. Other cities have adopted this concept. With the permits, people can park anywhere they wish in a designated area. The permits would likely go with the vehicle, so one vehicle per house would have the parking privileges. Signs would designate the areas of residential parking.

For example, in the City of Denver, residential parking permits are valid only on the block in which the resident resides. If this goes into effect on my block, it will mean that when I return home from wherever I’ve been, I will be able to park in front of some random house on my block, but not necessarily right in front of my home unless that spot is vacant. So I am struggling with how this is different — or better — than what we have now. (I learned on April 14 that not all the first blocks off Harrison have a huge parking issue, just a few. Including mine.)

In any case, no decisions have been made yet. There was a limited number of people invited to the April 14 meeting, but another meeting is planned for April 28, and everyone can log into that one and have their say. It’s scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. Go to http://l.ead.me/leadvilleworkshop0328.

Contact Martinek at marcia@leadvilleherald.com.

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