New Aurora parking program set to bring meters, permits, paid parking to neighborhoods near light rail

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AURORA | Starting in September, Aurora residents living in light-rail close neighborhoods could need parking permits as city officials plan to implement a parking program they say will serve commuters and protect nearby residential parking.

At the Monday, July 11 Aurora City Council study session, council members approved moving forward with a parking permit plan that would institute restricted parking on residential streets surrounding four future light rail stations. Those include lliff Station, Florida Station, 13th Avenue Station and the Colfax Station.

The program would provide each household in a neighborhood parking permit district near a light rail station with two free parking permits. Obtaining a third or more parking permits would cost $10 under the plan.

Commuter parking permits in these areas would cost at minimum $35 per month. The city also plans to install parking meters in some neighborhoods to cost $1 per hour to park if the plan is approved.

Under the plan, the city would charge commuters daily and monthly rates to use the 600-space, two-story parking garage being constructed for the Aurora “R” Line Iliff light rail station.

A design of a proposed no-parking sign planned to signify where permit-restricted parking is in Aurora. (Courtesy City of Aurora)
A design of a proposed no-parking sign planned to signify where permit-restricted parking is in Aurora. (Courtesy City of Aurora)

Those minimum fees, set to begin in 2017, to park in the Iliff garage would be $3 per day and $50 for monthly parking. If the garage proves to be popular and exceeds 90-percent capacity, those rates could be raised as high as $5 per day and $85 per month.

At Aurora’s new Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center Garage, located across from the Anschutz Medical Campus, overnight parking would cost $12 and monthly parking costs would be $75.

The parking plan would also change other parts of Aurora’s enforcement code and be applicable citywide, not just in parking permit districts. Those changes would specifically reduce the time operable vehicles can be parked on a city street without moving from 21 days to five days. The same would apply for any motor home. The plan would reduce inoperable vehicles being allowed to stay from seven days down to only three.

Robert Ferrin, Aurora’s parking program manager, said inoperable cars sitting outside of homes for weeks as well as auto shops operating in public right-of-ways were two major issues the city learned about when conducting research with residents to design the new parking program.

He pointed to Denver, which only allows inoperable cars to stay on city streets for 72 hours as a contrast to Aurora’s relative leniency.

“People in this city know we have a lack of parking enforcement,” Ferrin said. He said residents who have a registered, operable vehicle parked in front of their homes are exempted from the provision.

Some council members took issue with the change.

At-Large Councilwoman Angela Lawson pointed out that she lives in a home that does not have a parking garage. She asked what would happen if she has more than one vehicle but only one parking space available for her to use. Ferrin said if the vehicle is operable, she would have to move it 100 feet every five days.

“If you’re starting to park in front of other people’s home on a block, you’re affecting your neighbors,” he said. “I’d be shocked if we forced this to a ‘T’ other than in the high-demand areas where we have parking challenges.”

The plan would also allow for on-street angle parking, and for on-street parking-protected bicycle facilities. According to city documents, Aurora does not currently allow angled parking.

Aurora residents previously exempted from street sweeping would also be required to remove their vehicles during a street sweep under the plan.

The city would also establish a new parking bureau to hear parking citations. Individuals would receiving a warning and no fine for their first non-safety violation, such as a permit parking or street sweeping violation, and $30 each time after that.

The city currently issues tickets for inoperable and abandoned vehicles, parking in fire lanes and illegally parking in handicap spaces.

Aurora officials are anticipating a large demand for parking with the opening of the 10.5-mile Aurora “R” light rail line set to travel along the I-225 corridor from Nine Mile station and connect with the East Rail line to Denver International Airport.

The parking plan still needs to be approved at a regular city council meeting and is expected to go back to Aurora City Council in late July or August. Ferrin said the city is looking into implementing the parking plan in September or October, before the light rail line opens at the end of this year.