Downtown parking has become a contentious issue in Casper. An ongoing dispute between mobile food vendors and downtown merchants has been at the forefront; but the issue has been simmering since last June, when the Casper City Council authorized a parking study by the Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
And most of us are ready to see the issues resolved once and for all.
The long-awaited results of the study, which was conducted over the last five months, have given the Council pause on making a final decision about food trucks.
But they no longer have the luxury of waiting for the results to make a decision on the matter.
Because the $80,000 study is finished, and the results are in. And they aren’t really surprising.
Casper’s core has plenty of parking.
The study found that the 8,100 spots downtown (including the Old Yellowstone District and the neighborhood surrounding City Hall) are sufficient in relation to the city’s population. The problem, according to the results of the study, is that they aren’t being properly managed.
Parking management falls under police jurisdiction, and about 60 percent of parking fines are never collected. Which, according to councilmen Chris Walsh and Michael Huber, is because the cost of chasing the fines outweighs the cost of the fines themselves.
So if residents don’t think parking regulations will be properly enforced and they stay in a two-hour spot for three hours, or they park in a private lot before the public hours, they’re essentially taking parking away from other residents.
And that’s not great; but it isn’t the great parking crunch that some in the community have complained of.
One piece of parking regulation that we think should be addressed is the issue of overnight parking outside of bars and restaurants downtown. When someone returns the following morning to retrieve their vehicle, a parking fine might be awaiting them on their windshield.
And that seems counterproductive.
Because if a bar patron chooses to take a ride home after drinking a bit too much wine with dinner or spending an evening out with friends, they shouldn’t be penalized with a parking ticket for making the right choice not to drink and drive.
But whatever the city chooses to do to address issues of parking management, the question of parking capacity should finally be put to bed, along with all of the other issues that followed it.