Uber space added to arts fest canvas
Park City has set aside space on the Park City Kimball Arts Festival canvas for Uber.
The Park City Council on Thursday approved a change to the overall festival operations to allow the transportation company to use the top level of the south section of the China Bridge garage as a staging area.
The vote – 4-1 with Nann Worel dissenting – was held the day before the opening of the festival and as preparations were already well underway along Main Street for the Friday evening start.
Uber, which is a festival sponsor, will be allowed to use up to 40 parking spots as part of the agreement. The Kimball Art Center, the organizer of the festival, had previously secured the location as part of the event’s footprint for artist parking of oversized vehicles. Uber will occupy half of the level while the oversized parking will be directed to the other half.
The City Council as part of the approval added a prohibition that bars Uber drivers from using a taxi-staging area in the vicinity of the intersection of Main Street and Hillside Avenue.
In dissenting, Worel said was worried setting aside space in the garage for Uber would be giving preferential treatment to the firm over local transportation companies. Others on the City Council appeared to have similar concerns, but the worries about the impact on the transportation companies did not outweigh their desire to set aside the space for Uber.
Alfred Knotts, the transportation planning manager for City Hall, said the Uber presence will complement the bus system and said the transportation industry is evolving. Dave March, the marketing and events director for the Kimball Art Center, told the elected officials the sponsorship deal with Uber covers one year and said the transportation company will supplement the local taxis.
Luci Sosnowski, a Park City cab driver, testified on Thursday, telling the City Council taxi firms operate under different regulations than Uber. She said licensing is tighter and taxis need a higher level of insurance. She said taxi drivers typically earn good money during festivals.
“It’s a kick in the teeth to locals,” Sosnowski said, adding that Uber drivers do not know their way around Park City.
Tim Henney, a City Councilor, acknowledged there is a perception Uber is receiving special treatment.
It appears the elected officials will hold a broader discussion later about Uber and the impact on local transportation companies. The City Councilors requested the topic be addressed later, but it was not clear when that talk will occur. It seems it could be held in coming months, possibly prior to the Sundance Film Festival in January. Numerous taxi drivers have long converged on Park City for Sundance, elbowing the year-round drivers for passengers during the jammed event.
City Councilor Andy Beerman said the later discussion could also address whether Park City should create taxi stands. Beerman alluded to a highly controversial helicopter service Uber offered in the Park City area during part of Sundance in January.
“I just want to make sure there are no plans for a helipad,” Beerman said.
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How on earth will the Park City Council candidates address the traffic situation? What will they pledge to accomplish regarding housing? And how well do they understand the impact of the consolidation and corporatization of the ski industry? The fall campaign could answer those questions.