Some grumble over Breckenridge parking tickets
Summit Daily News
BRECKENRIDGE – Visitors often come to Breckenridge planning to spend money. They shop, ski and go out for meals.
One of the few things they don’t expect to drop extra cash on, however, is a parking ticket.
But some visitors say that’s what ended up happening, after they fell prey to what they call obscured or unnoticeable parking signs or overzealous parking officials. It wasn’t the memory they wanted to take away from their ski vacation.
“It left me with a real sour taste leaving Breckenridge, which is kind of sad” said Betty Pera, a woman from Kansas City who got a $100 citation after parking in a handicapped space for about 20 minutes. “It was my own fault, but I do think they were a little … fastidious.”
Breckenridge business owners know it’s not an uncommon occurrence.
Justin Stone, the manager of Sunlogic Sunglass Headquarters, said he regularly sees people parking in a marked handicapped space near the entrance to the shop.
“People park there all the time and get tickets all the time,” Stone said. “It’s just apparently not clear enough.”
Breckenridge Police issued approximately 9,000 tickets in 2010 yielding over $215,000 in revenue. But of the tickets issued, an estimated 1,500 were overturned through an appeal process, Police Chief Rick Holman said, and the revenue from the tickets that were upheld is not significant in the context of the overall town budget.
“If we were just trying to make money, there’s certainly a lot of (other) things the town could do,” Holman said. “There has to be some level of enforcement to get people to comply with the rules. We try to be extremely fair in our appeal process, and we try to be compassionate if they have extenuating circumstances.”
The three-hour parking limits throughout much of town are in place and enforced in an effort to discourage skiers and town employees from parking in spots intended for downtown patrons.
Holman said the majority of the tickets issued are written on vehicles violating three-hour parking limits, a $20 citation if paid within 10 days. Parking in a handicapped space is a $100 ticket.
One woman who wrote to the Summit Daily News after receiving a ticket said the experience would keep her from returning to Breckenridge, but other visitors say a citation wouldn’t necessarily ruin their vacation.
“It would depend on the situation, where I was parked, how long I was parked” said Brian Ban Hauen, a visitor from Kansas City. “I mean, you know if you’ve been there for three hours.”
Some visitors say the signs in town are not clear enough and, in the winter, snow can cover warnings on the street. That’s particularly true in handicapped spots, which typically have a painted icon on the pavement to underscore the message. Those aren’t visible when snow covers the street.
But Breckenridge Town Council members say they’ve avoided posting more obvious signs in an effort to preserve the character and look of the Main Street area.
“The sign issue is a tough one,” Breckenridge Town Councilman Peter Joyce said. “It has come up before… We’re trying not to pollute our downtown.”
Already a difficult town to navigate by car on busy days, downtown Breckenridge is subdivided with a patchwork of no-parking zones, handicapped parking and time-limited parking lanes. There are larger parking lots available, but they are located on the outskirts of town.
Still, town council members say, throughout much of town, the parking is free.
“The majority of council still believe that free parking is an amenity to offer our community,” Joyce said. “Not a lot of ski communities still have free parking.”
Breckenridge parking tickets can be paid online at http://www.townofbreckenridge.com under the “I want to…” tab.
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