Parking in downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City is going to be more expensive beginning Jan. 1 as the city looks to generate more revenue and steer more vehicles toward its lots and multistory garages.
Parking meters will go up by 25 cents an hour while hours of operation will be extended from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Daily and monthly rates also will go up at city-operated garages and surface lots, according to a news release sent out Friday. Now, metered parking begins at 8 or 9 a.m., depending on the location, and ends at 6 p.m. Sundays had been free.
The increased revenue will help pay for upkeep and updated technology, city officials said.
“We have a lot of deferred maintenance on our structures. We need to update our meters to a newer technology and to offer a better service to our customers overall — and that takes money,” said Scott Lee, the city’s parking director.
The upcoming change is part of a multiyear plan to increase hourly parking prices by about 25 cents annually, Lee said.
But, “we won’t reach Denver rates,” he added. “I never want to be compared to Denver as far as rates.”
Rates for the city’s roughly 2,600 parking meters in downtown and Old Colorado City haven’t been increased in 14 years.
Meters closest to the city center will charge $1.25 per hour, and meters further out from the downtown core will have an hourly rate of $1.
The city’s three downtown parking garages will charge the following daily rates Monday through Friday: 50 cents for 30 minutes or less; $1 for an hour; and $1 or less for each additional hour with a $9 daily maximum.
The garages are at Cascade Avenue and Bijou Street, Colorado and Nevada avenues and Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue.
The price of a monthly parking permit for those garages will increase from $60 to $70 a month, though groups of 75 or more may be eligible for discounts.
Garage parking during special events will also increase from $3 to $5.
Monthly parking at the city’s Old Colorado City surface lot, at Cucharras Street and 26th Street, will cost $35 instead of the current $10.
The goal is to encourage people who are parking for a relatively short time to use the meters and steer those who are staying for a longer to the more affordable garages, Lee said.
“We don’t want people circling the block looking for a parking spot,” he said.
Downtown business owners have been pushing to extend meter hours to increase turnover in spots close to shops and restaurants, said Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs. Because the meters stop charging at 6 p.m., employees and hotel guests will often occupy spots all night.
“This (change in hours) now allows customers and restaurant patrons — a couple each evening — to have access to that on-street parking. That’s what meters are designed to do, is create that churn,” Edmonson said. “With all the hundreds of new residents, hundreds of new patrons, and more to come downtown, we think this is a smart and moderate approach that is part of a growing city.”
The Gazette reported this summer that the city was weighing the changes. The city’s parking enterprise sought input from the Downtown Partnership and input from other “key stakeholders,” and the mayor approved the new rates on Friday, city spokeswoman Jamie Fabos said in an email.
“There was initially some people questioning it,” Lee said. “Once you explain the logic and the rationale behind why we need to do this, most people are on board with it.”
City parking revenues totaled nearly $5 million last year, and the new rates are expected to bring in about $1 million or so more next year, Lee said.
That money will help pay for parking structure needs identified during a recent assessment, including elevator replacements, lighting and signage upgrades and maintenance that will prevent water from seeping through the concrete and rusting underlying rebar.
“All that just adds up to a large amount of money,” Lee said.
The city is also considering implementing new meter technology that would allow for better data collection and upgrading parking garage gates to make getting in and out easier and faster.
Some new meters will be installed early next year that will allow customers to extend parking time at a progressive cost and add time to their meters remotely using a smartphone app, according to the city news release.
Even with the changes, Colorado Springs rates will still remain relatively low in comparison to many other cities, Lee said.
The city still won’t make the list of the top 40 cities with the highest hourly rates and will rank 39th in daily garage parking prices, city officials have determined, using 2018 data from the global parking information website Parkopedia.