Breckenridge increases parking fines for time-limit violators
October 22, 2014
Forgetting or not caring to move your car in downtown Breckenridge is about to get more expensive.
Workers and skiers who leave their cars in free parking spaces past the posted three-hour time limits will soon see heftier fines for those violations. Repeat offenders, especially, be warned.
Under a recently adopted change, time-limit parking scofflaws will face fines ranging from $30 for a first offense to as high as $200 after four or more offenses in a given 12-month period. Fines will double if tickets aren't paid or contested within 10 days.
The three-hour parking limits throughout town are enforced to discourage skiers and downtown employees from parking in spots intended for those coming to dine, shop and spend money, be they tourists or locals, said Matthew Collver, who supervises parking with the police department.
Downtown businesses depend on those spaces being available for their customers, he said, and parking officials have been going door-to-door letting employees know about the changes, which will take effect Dec. 1.
"Our goal is compliance," he said. "We prefer compliance rather than having to issue citations."
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He said town officials want to discourage employees and skiers from abusing the three-hour limits and motivate them to park in places where their cars are allowed to stay all day.
Fines for all other parking violations will increase from $20 to $30, with the exception of the handicap parking violation which will remain a $100 fine. The fee for not paying or contesting those violations within 10 days also will increase from $20 to $30.
Towing remains in effect for vehicles with three or more unpaid parking tickets that are 20 days old.
A PROBLEM FOR YEARS
Few topics strike a chord in Breckenridge the way parking does. The town has struggled for years with how to handle parking during busy times.
Some skiers want to know where they can sneak into a free parking spot near the lifts almost as bad as where to find the best terrain. For downtown employees, finding legal parking can be a constant hassle during ski season.
Jason Payne, a restaurant manager who has worked in downtown Breckenridge for the last 10 years, said he is frustrated with parking in general and upset that almost all his employees have received fines at some point.
"The town needs to cater a little bit more to the people that live here year-round," he said, and provide more parking for the people who work and live here.
Though he walks to work from a block away, he said, his employees often struggle with finding a spot and walking from the other end of downtown before work. The process can take a half hour, he said.
PERMITS AND PARKING LOTS
Employees who don't walk, bike or ride the bus to get to work should buy $50 permits through the police department that allow them to park in certain lots, Collver said. Roughy 860 people bought the business district employee permits last season.
Skiers have the option of parking in free lots and riding the bus to Breckenridge Ski Resort or paying for parking in the town-owned lots or the resort-owned gondola lots.
Parking costs $3 an hour in the town-owned lots, with a maximum rate of $15 per day in the Sawmill and Wellington lots and $12 per day in the Tiger Dredge and F-Lot.
Parking in the resort-owned gondola lots costs $12 on weekends and holidays (increased in 2012 from $10). The resort charges $5 to park there on weekdays (Monday through Thursday) and encourages people to carpool with a $5 discount for cars with four or more passengers. Parking in the Beaver Run lots cost $15 Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday and on peak days.
Collver said the increased time-violation fines are an update to the fine structure last changed in 2007. The new fines are more in line with what's done in other resort towns like Vail, Aspen, Steamboat and Telluride, some of which don't offer free parking like Breckenridge.
Time-restricted free parking is available in certain lots and on Main, Ridge and French streets. In the lots that charge, fees lift every afternoon. Parking is free after 2 p.m. in resort-owned lots and 3 p.m. in town-owned lots.
FEES UP, FINES DOWN
The changes also are part of the town's new master parking and transit plan, a project in the works that included a recently published parking survey and should be finished in the next few months.
Last year, the town earned about $352,000 from parking fees, a 19 percent increase over the 2012-13 season and the most pay parking seasonal revenue the town has ever seen.
The biggest earning days for the town's paying lots were weekends in February and March and between Christmas and New Years, and Collver said the record-breaking amount could be attributed to skiers numbers up last season because of good snow.
However, even though fee revenue was up, the police issued fewer citations in the 2013-14 season than in 2012-13.
Last year the police issued 5,426 violations (not counting about 1,000 voided and warning tickets). Of those, the most fines were issued for three-hour violations, about 36 percent or 1,928 fines.
Overnight parking was the next biggest source of fines — 1,120 fines or 21 percent — followed by tickets issued for not having a parking coupon.
Money collected from fines and fees goes into the town's general fund, Collver said.
Starting Friday, Nov. 7, overnight parking restrictions for ski season will go into effect until the end of April. Parking will be prohibited on town-owned streets and in town-owned lots between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The police will keep issuing overnight warnings in the core of town for first-time offenders. In the 2013-14 season officers issued 1,240 citations, a slight decline from the previous year's total of 1,120.
Overnight parking is allowed at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on the south side of town and satellite parking lot on the north side for $5 per night, for a maximum of 14 nights. Permits are available on-site at both locations.
The police department also provides "patron passes" to establishments that serve alcohol, and passes can be given to patrons too intoxicated to drive who can pick up their vehicles the next morning without being fined.
For more information about parking, call the Breckenridge Police Department's Community Service and Parking Division at (970) 547-3122 or visit the town's website at townofbreckenridge.com and find the parking page under Departments and Services.
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