Deer Valley broaches paid parking, and Wasatch Front skiers seen as ‘more price sensitive’

Few details released about the traffic-fighting measure under discussion as part of development talks

The Snow Park lots at Deer Valley Resort on Wednesday afternoon were declared full in the hours before the Park City Planning Commission continued talks about a major development proposal on the land where the lots are located. Deer Valley wants to introduce paid parking as an element of the project.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Deer Valley Resort as part of the development of the parking lots outside Snow Park Lodge intends to introduce a paid-parking system as a traffic-fighting measure.

The concept holds that a charge for parking could influence skiers to use alternate modes of transportation to reach the resort, resulting in less traffic headed to and from the base area.

Although Deer Valley’s development team acknowledged in a submittal to City Hall that any new costs for parking might not impact some of the skiers at Deer Valley, it also says the charges could influence the decisions of those from the Wasatch Front.

In an especially notable section of a transportation plan drafted on behalf of Deer Valley, a consultant called Fehr & Peers effectively concedes there are differences in the financial wherewithal between the various segments of skiers at the resort. It says “a fundamental aspect of Snow Park Village’s proposed parking system is to charge for parking, a direct incentive to those traveling to Deer Valley to more efficiently utilize vehicle capacity, specifically for day skiers.”

“While many Deer Valley patrons are likely less price sensitive to additional charges such as paid parking, available data suggests that a substantial portion of day traffic originates from points along the Wasatch Front, from where patrons are expected to be more price sensitive to parking fees,” the report says, noting the people from the Wasatch Front would be more likely to choose another mode of transportation to get to and from the resort under a paid-parking scenario.

The consultant in a separate memorandum that was also submitted to the municipal government broached a similar topic while addressing the price structure of an eventual paid-parking system.

“Recognizing that … much of the typical clientele of Deer Valley are less price-sensitive than many potential parkers, pricing may be adjusted following initial implementation to ensure that the preferred reductions in peak parking demand are achieved,” the memorandum says.

The assertion by the consultant that some Deer Valley skiers are not as sensitive to prices while others, such as those from the Wasatch Front, have price sensitivity seems to reinforce the longstanding notion of the resort’s exclusivity. Deer Valley’s overall prices, the limits on lift-ticket sales and a snowboarding ban have each played into that notion over the years.

Deer Valley is in the early stages of talks with the Park City Planning Commission about major development on the land where the Snow Park Lodge parking lots are located. There are decades-old development rights attached to the land, but another approval is required from the panel prior to the work commencing. The development would remake Snow Park with what would be a new base area offering a hotel, other lodging options, commercial spaces, dining and entertainment.

One of the key aspects of the development proposal is the construction of garages to account for the parking spots that would be lost as the project is built. Paid parking would be introduced with the garages. The consultant’s memorandum says a paid-parking system would involve a variable-pricing model that would depend on the time of the year and the demand.

Paid parking is seen as discouraging some drivers from using their personal vehicles to reach a destination like a mountain resort. Other options like the bus system then act to reduce traffic. The traffic that the Snow Park development is projected to generate, as well as any traffic-fighting measures, will be key issues as the talks between Deer Valley and the Planning Commission advance. Traffic is normally one of the chief concerns regarding large development proposals in Park City like the one at Snow Park.

Details about the concept of the introduction of a paid-parking system at Deer Valley alongside the development are not known. The dollar figures under consideration, likely of most interest to Deer Valley skiers, are among the details that were not outlined in the information submitted to City Hall. The memorandum, though, says the pricing “is an important tool to encourage all visitors to travel by modes other than driving alone.”

The discussions about Deer Valley are underway at the same time as the Planning Commission is engaged in difficult talks about a major development proposal at the Park City Mountain Resort base area. The project proposed for the land where the PCMR parking lots are located, similar to the Deer Valley concept, involves the construction of large garages to account for parking lost as the land is built upon. The developer, a Provo firm called PEG Companies, has outlined a paid-parking concept as part of the project.

If they proceed with the plans for paid parking, the two projects would alter the decades of history of free parking at the two resorts. Either one would be the most notable introduction of paid parking inside Park City since City Hall in the late 1990s launched the system in the Main Street core.

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