Breckenridge grapples with overnight parking
summit daily news
Police and the town council are re-examining overnight parking options in downtown Breckenridge, with the consideration that banning parking between the hours of 2-6 a.m. might disagree with messages against drinking and driving.
The issue was brought up at recent council meetings by Councilman Mark Burke, a co-owner of Burke and Riley’s Irish Pub who noted that his patrons are sometimes ticketed or even towed when they leave their vehicles downtown overnight to avoid drinking and driving.
During the winter months, cars parked overnight can get in the way of plowing operations during snowstorms, commander Shannon Haynes of the Breckenridge Police Department said. Cars left after 2 a.m. are generally ticketed, but are towed if necessary for snowplows to clear the streets.
In the 2010/2011 winter season 11 cars were towed to make way for snow removal between 2-6 a.m.
Heynes said it was unlikely there would be changes to existing parking policies in the near future.
“We ask all of our citizens to take responsibility for themselves,” Haynes said.
A Breckenridge Police Advisory Committee recently considered the issue and a subsequent report to the town council stated that, “the committee feels it is far more important to make sure our streets and lots are able to be cleared of snow effectively than run the risk of a few cars being towed over the course of a winter because a few individuals failed to plan accordingly.”
The committee said there were enough alternative options for drivers who have been drinking to avoid parking vehicles illegally overnight.
Owners of bars and restaurants downtown are provided with “patron passes,” special permits that allow customers to leave their cars without penalty if they have had too much to drink. There is also an exchange lot where cars can be parked overnight without penalty and the “no tow” option of calling in to dispatch to request that authorities not tow vehicles left after hours.
But law-enforcement officials may not honor the patron pass or the “no tow” option if a car is blocking snowplow work. Cars with patron passes have occasionally been ticketed, but Haynes said vehicle owners could come in and show the pass to have the ticket revoked.
The committee stated in the report that members felt the responsibility to find transportation alternatives for intoxicated customers fell to the owners of liquor establishments, but supported the idea of increased education on the issue for bar staffers with the understanding that they will help educate customers.
“What we would like to do is ask our bars to educate people on what those options are and encourage them to use alternate (transportation) if they find themselves in a bind,” Haynes said.
Committee members also noted that there are alternatives to driving, including the Breckenridge and Summit County free bus systems as well as taxi services available to customers who plan ahead.
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