Deer Valley, City Hall suddenly thrust into parking dispute
March 15, 2019
City Hall and Deer Valley Resort were suddenly thrust into a dispute this week about parking outside Snow Park Lodge as vehicles continued to overflow onto Deer Valley Drive during what has been an especially busy, snowy ski season.
A Deer Valley executive engaged Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday night in an unscheduled appearance at the Marsac Building that, though not tense, illustrated the stress that large crowds of skiers put on the community.
The dispute centers on skiers parking on the section of Deer Valley Drive that rings the Snow Park Lodge lots, the primary parking lots for the resort. There are approximately 1,250 spots in the lots. The planning and zoning documents that govern development at Deer Valley allow overflow parking from the Snow Park lots onto Deer Valley Drive on 10 percent of the days the resort is open for skiing during a season, or approximately 12 or 13 days.
The resort exceeded the allowance, triggering City Hall on Tuesday to inform Deer Valley it cannot allow the overflow parking on Deer Valley Drive. The resort said it received a formal letter from City Hall outlining the prohibition.
Matt Dias, the assistant Park City manager, on Friday said City Hall starting that day no longer permitted overflow parking on Deer Valley Drive outside of Snow Park Lodge. He acknowledged to the mayor and City Council on Thursday it would be a "sudden change" for Deer Valley skiers.
Steve Issowits, the director of real estate and resort planning at Deer Valley, appeared on behalf of the resort on Thursday evening, outlining the situation from the Deer Valley perspective. Issowits told the elected officials it is difficult for an operation the size of Deer Valley to make such a shift so abruptly. He said Deer Valley must address skier parking as well as work on agreements for shuttle service.
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Issowits said there have been 27 days during the current ski season that required overflow parking onto Deer Valley Drive. In an interview, he said 12 of the 27 days were on days that the road into Big Cottonwood Canyon, Little Cottonwood Canyon or both were closed due to weather or avalanche-control work, influencing skiers who would have otherwise headed to the resorts in the Cottonwoods to instead drive to Deer Valley. Another seven of the days were during the World Freestyle Championships or during the setup for the competitions while two days were during the Sundance Film Festival, he said, adding the other six days were especially busy days for Deer Valley.
"It's directly attributable to the snow. We're having a great year with a great economy," Issowits said. "And people are having fun. We certainly don't want to discourage any of that."
During the final weeks of the ski season, he said, City Hall will post signs with electronic messages directing skiers to parking at Treasure Mountain Junior High on the weekends. The skiers would be shuttled to the resort from the school.
It appears, though, Deer Valley and City Hall will review the issue in a broader fashion before the start of the next ski season. The resort will apparently need to engage the Park City Planning Commission since the restrictions on parking are within the Deer Valley planning and zoning documents that originally date to decades ago.
Issowits told the elected officials there is a possibility the resort will consider building more parking at Snow Park, something that is envisioned in the documents.
The issue arose during what has been an especially busy ski season for Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. Issowits told the elected officials lift-ticket sales at Deer Valley are up approximately 11.5 percent from the previous ski season. The strong resort business has coincided with a winter of heavy snow as well as the debut of the Ikon Pass, which offers holders access to resorts across North America and abroad. Deer Valley is included.
The weather has caused numerous parking issues across Park City as snow piles on the sides of the road narrowed the available space for parking.