Commissioners approve higher parking rates at Aspen airport
New parking fees will be charged at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport starting next month to discourage scofflaws who are eating up spaces when they aren’t flying.
The Pitkin County commissioners approved a staff proposal for the new rates Wednesday. The new fees will go into effect Sept. 11 when there is a necessary second vote of approval.
In Lot A, closest to the terminal, the new rate will be free for the first 30 minutes, $2 for the next 30 minutes and $6 per hour for every hour between 2 and 12. There will be a maximum charge of $40. After the 12-hour time limit, the rate will convert to the daily rate of $12.
Motorists using Lots B and C will get a discount for walking slightly further. The first 30 minutes will be free and the next 30 minutes will be $1 and the next hour will be $1. Every hour from 2 to 12 hours will be $6 per hour with a maximum of $40. After 12 hours, the daily rate of $6 will kick in.
“I can support this. I think it’s fair,” County Commissioner Patti Clapper said.
The first hour is currently free at the short- and long-term lots. The short-term lot charges $2 per hour with a $12 daily maximum. The long-term lot charges $1 per hour with a daily maximum of $6.
At those rates, everyone from commuters to Aspen to backpackers in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness are flocking to the airport parking, county officials said.
“Creating a price structure to deter non-flying parkers will help increase parking spots for the flying public,” said a memo to the commissioners from Airport Director John Kinney. Critics have previously complained that it comes at the expense of people legitimately using the airport.
Kinney told the commissioners there is a shortage of parking this summer at the airport for a variety of reasons. A big factor is increased activity. In June, there were 45 additional commercial flights compared with June 2018. That resulted in an increase of 8.5% in passengers.
In addition, the airport finally had to implement an elimination of curbside parking dictated by the Transportation Security Administration.
“We were able to skirt it for how long?” Commissioner Greg Poschman asked.
“About 10 years,” Kinney replied.
Motorists picking up passengers often used that curbside parking. Since it’s been eliminated, they are using other parking areas. As an alternative, the county will add a cellphone waiting area with 50 parking spaces for people waiting to pick up an arriving airline passenger.
The county will publicize the increased rates over the next three weeks before implementing them Sept. 11.
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Recreation and travel in Glenwood Canyon will be much more hazardous due to the potential rockfall and debris flows originating from destabilized ground, rock and weakened trees burned by the Grizzly Creek Fire last summer.