Mallory Baker

Mallory Baker of Walker Consultants presents feedback from participants at last week’s virtual community meeting about parking.

Walker Consultants, a parking and transportation design firm that has worked with the city since March, is debriefing after last week’s community meeting about parking in Leadville.

The firm, which operates out of the Front Range, put out a community survey regarding parking earlier this spring that received over 500 responses. That data, along with other statistics about parking congestion, was synthesized to produce a downtown parking assessment that was released at the end of March.

Last week’s meeting was meant to hone in on specific topics outlined in the parking assessment, particularly those related to Leadville’s private parking signs.

About 30 virtual participants answered questions and provided feedback that will inform Walker Consultants’ next assessment, which will be presented to City Council on May 11.

“The issue of parking in congested areas can be such an emotional topic,” said Mallory Baker, a project manager for Walker Consultants. “We want to help create a program that prioritizes residents, but doesn’t hinder tourists’ ability to visit the area.”

One of the topics addressed at last week’s meeting was the city’s private parking program, which has been in place for decades.

In July 2020, City Council, citing legal advice, issued a moratorium on the private parking program, meaning no new permits could be issued. Until then, homeowners near downtown could pay for private parking spots in front of their residences for an annual $100 fee.

In 2020, the city identified eight properties with city-installed private parking signs without any installation record. The municipality also identified 15 properties with personally-installed private parking signs. Currently, there are about 80 registered “no parking” signs in Leadville.

“Private parking programs are very popular,” said Baker, who added that the main distinction with Leadville’s — and the reason it is under legal review — is because private parking programs are usually tied to a vehicle, not a parking space.

At last week’s meeting, some community members said signs were not the best way to enforce a residential parking program, and that the city should consider other tactics once the moratorium ends in June.

Others said that parking enforcement was an issue in Leadville. The public wants cohesive rules about parking and a unified body to enforce those rules, Baker said.

Another key topic was snow removal. Baker noted that one reason residents in Leadville feel a sense of ownership over parking spots is because they often have to shovel them out. Residents said increased communication from the City of Leadville on when snow removal will take place would help the issue.

Baker said specific lots are dedicated for parking during snow removal in towns like Steamboat Springs, and that the city will explore such an option. The consultant also noted that the City of Leadville is looking into acquiring more land along the downtown corridor for parking, as well as maybe partnering with other businesses to share parking lots.

“It’s important that we don’t just copy and paste from another community’s parking solutions,” said Baker. “We want to make sure the solution fits with Leadville’s needs.”

Walker Consultants will offer its final recommendations to City Council in June after nearly four months of surveying the public about parking solutions in downtown Leadville. City Council will then decide which suggestions should be implemented in Leadville.

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