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CSU commuter parking still influential in RP3 expansion

The evolution of the City’s Residential Parking Permit Program (RP3) remains closely tied to the parking patterns of Colorado State University commuters, according to updates from the public meeting Thursday night. 

After a brief presentation from Seth Lorson, city transit planner, on RP3’s future, community members were able to express their thoughts and concerns to city officials about the program’s progression. 

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RP3 began in 2013 in response to the routine spillover parking from activity centers, namely downtown and CSU, according to Lorson.

“People aren’t willing to pay for parking on campus so they park in the neighborhoods around there, and the neighborhoods really did not like that at all,” Lorson said. “So we created (RP3).”

Now, only cars registered by neighborhood residents with permits can park in the zoned streets during weekdays. Cars without permits have two-hour free parking.

There are currently 10 RP3 zones, six CSU Stadium zones specifically for game days and three more standard zones on the way.

People in the neighborhoods must initiate the zoning process by getting at least 10 residents to sign a petition to do so. If the neighborhood meets the criteria of a 70 percent occupancy on their street, a majority of at least 50 percent of the residents must vote for zoning before it can be implemented.

The City is fast-tracking zoning for areas adjacent to those already applying for zoning, so if a block next to another is applying to be zoned, the block who did not initiate the zoning can also vote on if they wish to have an RP3 program.

According to Lorson, fast-tracking adjacent neighborhoods into RP3 is intended to save those blocks time from when the parking spillover gets pushed to them. It is a visible phenomenon that nonresidential drivers looking for free parking simply move to the next neighborhood over after their initial area gets two-hour parking limitations.

“When you create these restrictions, people just go beyond them, and they find the free parking. They just find it,” Lorson said. “And, they will walk that extra distance. A lot of people are bringing their bikes or are pulling the skateboards out.”

Several community members expressed concerns with the logic of the program.

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“My main concern isn’t about the people who are parking or even sharing the parking,” said John Lorenzen, community member. “My issue is this program isn’t comprehensive enough and that we do it piece-by-piece. My neighbors have now forced their problem on me.”

Lorenzen said that after implementing RP3, residents in the zoned neighborhood adjacent to his began parking their cars on his non-zoned street, sometimes not moving their cars for days.

RP3 residents can only register one car for free. The second parking permit costs $15, $40 for a third, $100 for a fourth and $200 for a fifth permit. The price covers administrative costs of a large permit program and discourages people from buying too many permits, according to Timothy Wilder, city service development manager.

But, it can result in non-zoned neighborhoods getting the extra cars of zone residents who do not want to pay for additional residential permits and the spillover from CSU.

“The (spillover parking) problem has grown for sure,” Wilder said. “(RP3) is a crude tool for a bigger problem.”

Community members Tricia and Clay Davies said that sharing parking with students was not a problem until RP3 was implemented.

“Our street, Magnolia, was never, ever close to 85 percent occupied before this went into effect,” Clay Davies said of their currently non-zoned neighborhood. “(Parking) wasn’t a problem, but it became a problem because of (RP3).”

The Davies, who have several kids at CSU, said the price of on-campus permits was simply too high for many students who cannot afford to live near campus, leaving them with no choice but to park in neighborhoods.

Tricia Davies said she did not care who parked on her street, and the current refusal to share the parking was only creating more problems. 

“(Sharing parking is) all workable as long as everybody wants to work,” she said. “I just don’t understand where all the hoopla is coming from about everyone being so concerned about their street and being so congested.”

According to Lorson, residents can be very protective of the area in front of their house, and the initial RP3 neighborhoods had very narrow streets which made overparking a safety concern. Several residents in RP3 zones expressed satisfaction with the program’s results and hoped it would not go away. 

Lorson said similar residential parking permit programs worked in university towns all over the country but acknowledged that RP3 did not manage the problem at a fundamental level. 

Clay Davies pointed out that the City’s plan, permitting areas around CSU at a wider radius until drivers give up, made the University’s parking problem everyone else’s problem too.

“It just seems like we’re not solving the issue,” Lorenzen said. “We’re just forcing it on someone else for them to complain. And, my issue is: is that the right thing to do to your neighbors?”

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.

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