Permits may be partial answer to parking

ALAMOSA — Parking permits for residents could be a solution to congestion on streets near Adams State University.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks and Alamosa Chief Duane Oakes presented the suggestion to residents near the university during public meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Brooks stressed that the city was not trying to force this solution on anyone and wanted input from the residents.

In addition to the two public meetings, the city will be sending surveys to residents living on the streets closest to Adams State.

The goal of a parking permit program would be to prevent students and ASU visitors from monopolizing the street parking in residential neighborhoods near the university, Brooks explained.

She said residents had approached the city with concerns related to parking near the Adams State campus. The city heard complaints of blocked driveways and confrontational motorists when asked to move their cars.

Chief Oakes said police respond to numerous parking complaints especially on Monterey and El Rio.

Staff checked out how other communities with this problem were dealing with it and found parking permits as a possible solution. Staff has not worked out all the details, however, Brooks said, because if residents are not interested in the idea, the city will not pursue it.

She explained that if the residents did want this solution, the city would require residents in designated blocks near Adams State to obtain parking permits, depending on the number of drivers in the household, plus guest permits for those who might be visiting the resident. Those blocks would be signed and the curbs painted to indicate that parking would be allowed by permit only.

Permits would then be issued to residents, who would have to prove they lived in the homes in those areas, with acceptable proof including utility bills. They would have to pay for the parking permits just to cover the cost of producing them, Brooks explained. The fee would probably be about $3 per permit.

“Hopefully it would be a one-time inconvenience,” Brooks said.

The permits would likely be ones that residents could hang from their mirrors in the front of the car, like handicap placards, so they would be clearly visible for police officers patrolling the neighborhoods.

The city would then issue permits for the drivers in each residence plus a few extra for guests that might visit that home.

Brooks explained that the permits would not be for a designated space, such as the spots in front of the resident’s house, but they would be valid for street parking in the neighborhoods designated as permit-only parking. No streets were specified for the potential parking permits, but residents were specifically invited to the public meetings from Monterey Avenue, Sierra Avenue, El Camino Drive, El Rio Drive and Edgemont Boulevard.

Those parking in areas that were permit only would do so at the risk of being towed.

Some of the questions, comments and concerns shared Tuesday night included:

• What about yard service or other services called in by the homeowner? Chief Oakes said those types of businesses would be obviously there for a short period of time to provide a service.

• If the neighborhoods closest to the university were permit only, would that push parking problems farther out? Brooks said that could be a possibility, but the city could extend the permit parking area if residents were still having problems. Brooks and Oakes added, however, that at some point it would not be convenient for students and others to park that far away from the university.

• Requiring parking permits could be a real hassle for residents. What about when family or friends drop by? Residents would have to run out and hang a permit in their car or ask their neighbors to borrow their permits, if a large party was planned.

• Could a resident be forced to get a parking permit if the majority of the homeowners on the street wanted to go that route? “There is that chance,” Brooks said. She said the city is not trying to force this solution on anyone, and she wants residents to let the city know if they are interested in this or not.

• Perhaps the parking permits could be enforced from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. so residents would not have to worry about extra parking for guests on evenings or weekends.

• Are there any restrictions at Adams State on who can have cars? Although some colleges do not let freshmen have cars, ASU does not have any restrictions like that, ASU Police Chief Andrew McPhearson explained. That would be more of a problem here, he and Brooks said, because Alamosa does not have a mass transit system for students without their own vehicles.

As part of their tuition and fees, ASU students receive parking permits, but sometimes it is more convenient for them to park on the street closest to their dorms rather than the designated parking lots on campus. Oakes said the streets are public parking, so students and anyone else can park on any of the streets if they wish at this point.

Ken Marquez, ASU’s vice president for student services, said staff and faculty have to pay for parking decals, but they are free to students as part of their fees. He said Adams State would try to encourage students to park in lots that are designated for them and for which they can obtain free decals.

Marquez added that the university has added parking spaces to better accommodate students, faculty and guests.

The McDaniel parking lot used to have 35 spaces and now has 131, for example, he said. Spaces were also added to the library lot and parking lots at the northern end of the campus, and the university has an agreement with the LDS church to use its parking lot as well. ASU professor and Alamosa City Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley, who represents the ward where the university is located, said students and faculty in the School of Business regularly use the LDS lot. She is one of them, she said.

Marquez said ASU has 1,400 parking spaces on campus to serve 1,500 students, 400 employees and an unknown number of guests, “so there is not enough parking. There never will be.”

It is not known how many students have cars, and some students have not taken advantage of their parking permits.

Marquez said residential parking permits might push students back into the parking lots they should be using on campus.

“I am not opposed to permit parking,” he said. “We want to be good partners with the city.”

He added that the university wants to be a good neighbor to the residential areas near the campus as well.

Brooks thanked the university staff for trying to work out solutions.

Chiefs Oakes and McPhearson told residents to call their department if they spotted illegal parking, such as a vehicle parked in one location longer than 48 hours or parked too close to a fire hydrant or other illegal parking behaviors.

Contact Oakes at 719-589-2548 or [email protected].