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For the week of May 23 through May 29, 2001


Just when it seemed the valley had become safe from another public hearing on parking, Ketchum decided to dredge it up again.

No one showed up for a hearing two weeks ago. It’s no wonder after the four years of aggravation and hundreds of hours of public participation it took to rewrite the city’s development plan.

But the job of planners is to plan, so on they go.

Ketchum’s planners propose that the city require bigger buildings to provide a lot more parking on site than they do today, and that smaller buildings provide less.

That sounds good and simple¾ in theory only.

Densities were already reduced 25 to 30 percent in the just-rewritten plan.

In practice, buildings could shrink again if more on-site parking is required, Unless of course, developers do what the planners recommend—build underground parking or pay $20,000 per space fees to the city in lieu of building parking.

Underground parking is a great idea, but little will fit on the standard downtown lot, which makes it very expensive.

Charging fees in-lieu of parking sounds good, too. Except for one niggling fact: The city tried a similar plan before, but it failed to produce new parking.

But so what? What everyone wants is smaller buildings, right?

Not necessarily.

Smaller commercial buildings inside the city will mount pressure on the county to strip-zone areas outside the city. They will also drive up business costs as space becomes scarce.

That said, the city does have some parking problems it needs to address. For example, the new multi-use half-block Colonnade building was allowed to reserve all of its parking for residents and none for business owners or employees. (Developers provided more business parking in a second phase.)

The second hearing on parking revisions is next Wednesday, May 30, at noon before the Planning and Zoning Commission at City Hall.

It’s time to pay attention to parking—again.



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