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For the week of May 17 through May 23, 2000

Council backs paid parking

"This is a really big deal, and I want to educate the public on it."

- Ketchum Councilwoman Chris Potters

Express Staff Writer

Paid parking—including meters—in Ketchum’s downtown will become a reality under preliminary plans endorsed by the Ketchum City Council on Monday night.

At the conclusion of a joint Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission and city council discussion, Councilwoman Chris Potters said, "This is a really big deal, and I want to educate the public on it."

She’s in favor of paid parking.

Though a vote was not taken, the council and P&Z were unanimous in their support of the paid parking concept. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the draft Ketchum Comprehensive Plan will deal with parking.

"All parking in the [downtown] should be paid for in one way or another," Commissioner Rod Sievers told the council.

In a nutshell, Sievers’ comment is what will be put in the draft plan.

Ketchum planning administrator Lisa Horowitz said in an interview after the meeting that the city will solicit public comment on that section of the comp plan once it’s rewritten.

Until paid parking can be implemented—which could be quite a long time, P&Z officials indicated—increased parking fines or decreased parking time periods could help send the message that the city means business and also help get the ball rolling, Councilman David Hutchinson said.

The P&Z and council didn’t jump right into the decision.

Two months ago, the city’s traffic consultant, Darrell Wilburn, told the city council that better management of existing parking by implementing paid parking, rather than creating new parking, is the answer to parking problems.

The city’s downtown parking availability is adequate, but seven years down the road something will have to be done to increase availability, Wilburn said. Higher turnover of cars, dictated by meters, is a good option, he said.

In a report he offered for the city council’s review, Wilburn said the average stay for someone parking in Ketchum’s downtown is one hour. About 25 percent of those parking in the downtown stay longer than an hour, he reported.

Wilburn said those who park longer than one hour are taking up a lot of the available parking spaces in town.

He studied an eight-block area of the downtown.

"Parking meters are very effective for enforcement," he said. "Metering is a tool and you need to use it as your parking demand rises."


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