Uber, controversial Sundance cast member, will not occupy public lot
Flagpole location expected to operate as paid parking during the festival
January 3, 2017
Uber, the on-demand transportation company that was a controversial cast member of the Sundance Film Festival in 2016, will not return to a City Hall-controlled parking lot it occupied last year.
Sundance organizers and Park City leaders reached an agreement in 2016 allowing Uber to operate a lounge at the flagpole lot along lower Swede Alley. The location was set aside for Uber drivers as they waited to pick up passengers. There was also a temporary hospitality tent erected at the location. The Uber setup in the flagpole lot appeared to draw drivers throughout the festival, and there seemed to be a small number of people waiting for rides at a few points in 2016. It was the first year Uber had official ties to the film festival, allowing Sundance to negotiate with Park City on its behalf.
A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting in November about Sundance plans indicated there was "no designated use for sponsor activation" in the flagpole lot. It said staffers would return to the elected officials in December if the lot would be used for a special purpose. A report to the City Council in December, though, outlined that the lot would be used for parking rather than a special use like the Uber setup in 2016. Uber is not a Sundance sponsor in 2017.
The report in December describes that the flagpole lot will be turned into a paid location during Sundance. It is normally free to park there. City Hall, though, during Sundance charges for parking in some locations that are usually free in an effort to discourage drivers from entering the jammed Main Street core. The December report says the parking charge in the flagpole lot will be $25 from Jan. 19 until Jan. 24, during the especially busy first days of the festival. The price will drop to $10 starting on Jan. 25 and ending Jan. 28. There will be free parking starting again on Jan. 29, the final day of Sundance. A driver must pay again if they leave and want to return to the lot.
The Uber setup during the festival in 2016 caused a stir early on as there were questions about City Hall setting aside public space for a transportation company that competes with locally based taxi and shuttle services. Park City leaders, though, saw the Uber presence there as something that would assist with the overall operations of the festival. The agreement was set at $17,500 in fees and a damage deposit and gave Uber the exclusive use of the lot, encompassing 52 spaces. The $17,500 was based on the estimated revenue City Hall would lose by removing the parking spaces from the inventory during Sundance.
Uber said in a statement on Monday the company intends to offer normal operations during the festival. There will also be a driver lounge and what the company described as "multiple, non-exclusive pickup locations" off Main Street. The locations had not been finalized by Monday.
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Although unrelated directly to the Uber location in the flagpole lot, the transportation company caused controversy during Sundance in 2016 by operating an on-demand helicopter service during the outset of the festival. The helicopters infuriated people living close to the Snyderville Basin landing zone, and the County Courthouse fought the service in district court before the flights were ended. Uber said on Monday it does not plan to offer a helicopter service during Sundance this year. The County Courthouse since last January enacted a prohibition against helicopter landings in the Snyderville Basin with exceptions for medical helicopters and others needed for the public benefit.
City Hall in the December report, meanwhile, outlined some of the details of the overall parking plan during Sundance. Parking has long been extremely tight during Sundance, particularly over the opening weekend, and Park City each year alters some of the operations in the Main Street core. Some of the highlights for Sundance 2017, which runs Jan. 19-29, include:
- the lot at Richardson Flat along the S.R. 248 entryway will be available for carpool parking, allowing someone to leave a vehicle there and then ride into Park City with someone else. Buses will not serve the lot.
- the Sandridge parking lots off Marsac Avenue will remain free. Availability will be on a first come, first serve basis.
- City Hall will prohibit parking along Main Street between the intersections with Swede Alley and 9th Street. Parking will also be prohibited on Heber Avenue and on the west side of Park Avenue between the Heber Avenue and 9th Street intersections
- parking will be available in the China Bridge garages at the same prices as the flagpole lotThe municipal government also says shuttles and taxis will be prohibited from parking on Main Street and there is not a location for them to park while waiting for customers. Parking-enforcement officers will watch the restricted areas "to keep traffic moving and prevent double parking," the report says.