Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Colorado Springs cracks down on UCCS student parking in neighborhood

By Debbie Kelley Updated: August 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Jerry and Margie Schaefer will reap the fruits of their labor on Monday.

That's when the city of Colorado Springs intends to enact stricter parking regulations in the Cragmor neighborhood south of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

"If this works as planned, it should help quite a lot," said Margie Schaefer.

The Schaefers, who have lived about a block and a half from the campus for 34 years, say in the past few years, there have been times they couldn't get out of their driveway.

"The street was bumper-to-bumper, starting at 6 in the morning and going 'til 10 at night," Schaefer said Wednesday. "The kids wouldn't pay attention, and there were a number of near misses. I'd have to sit for awhile to get up the nerve to drive. It was scary."

In response to a long-time feud between the university and the residents, the city is erecting "No Parking" signs on 22 streets near the campus.

Only neighborhood residents and their guests with permits displayed on their windshields will be allowed to park on the street 8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, starting on Labor Day.

The city will issue two parking permits per household to 256 property owners, said city transportation planner Tim Roberts. Parking in front of another 250 houses will be monitored and may join the permit system in the future, he said.

Violators will be fined up to $85 per incident, Roberts said. Colorado Springs police and the UCCS police department will patrol the area and residents are encouraged to report illegally parked vehicles.

"There have been many years of angst with the residents, visitors and daily services such as the postal service," Roberts said. "The students I have spoken to understand it, and a vast majority of the residents support it."

Homeowners such as the Schaefers have complained that university students were turning the quiet, 1950s-era neighborhood into a jungle. Not only have students clogged curbside parking, but they've also blocked driveways, cut through yards, skateboarded in the streets and engaged in other discourteous and dangerous activities.

The city had been addressing the issue on a case-by-case basis, Roberts said. For example, last fall, the city erected "No Parking" signs along the Schaefers' street, Panorama Road. But that means no one can park in front of the homes in the daytime - not even the people who live there.

After hosting 14 meetings with property owners, the city came up with a broader and more comprehensive plan - the permit parking system. It's the first time the city has tried such a program, Roberts said, and he thinks it will work.

The problem is not a lack of campus parking, said Jim Spice, UCCS' executive director of parking and transportation.

"We've never run out of parking in the school's history, and we'll always have plenty," he said.

It's a matter of convenience.

"It's convenient for the students to park right across the street and walk to the campus," Roberts said, "but it's an inconvenience for the neighbors."

Spice said UCCS has 3,784 parking spaces on university-owned property. Of those, 1,019 are on the main campus. The remaining spaces are in lots located within a mile to the west.

University users must pay for the closer parking, but parking at the Four Diamond Sports Complex, 5025 N Nevada Ave., is free, as are shuttle buses that transport students and staff to the main campus.

"They may not like that it's not right at the front door or that they're not in walking distance, but it's free," Spice said.

His department has added shuttles buses this school year, bringing the total to 11. Each holds 32 passengers and runs every five to 10 minutes during peak school hours and every 10 to 20 minutes during off-times, Spice said. Hours of operation have been extended to 6:40 a.m. to 10:35 p.m.

In the past four years, the fleet has nearly tripled in size and has doubled in ridership, he said. Last school year, the shuttles transported 400,000 passengers.

With this week's announcement that the Cragmor neighborhood soon will be off limits, the parking lots at Four Diamond have been near capacity. Should they fill up, Spice said overflow parking will be available at the Freedom Financial Expo Center at 3650 N. Nevada Ave., which the university also owns. Shuttles will run from that location as well.

UCCS also is building a 1,227-stall parking garage that's scheduled to open in March 2014.

Spice said that will help alleviate some 350 students and staff on a waiting list to park in spaces at the main campus.

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