Tom Clyde: Drought and paid parking |

Tom Clyde: Drought and paid parking

Drought and paid parking

Tom Clyde

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.

There’s a spring that comes out of the side of the mountain and flows into my main irrigation canal below it. It’s intermittent, and begins flowing about May first, give or take a few days. Some years it will flow until the end of July, other years it dries up in June. The amount of water it produces is similarly variable, a real gusher some years and a dribble in others. This year, the spring started flowing right on schedule, with water showing up in the ditches on the hay farm on April 28. By May 2, it had dried up. We’re in for a tough summer.

I came across a chart of snow totals at the ski resorts for the year. It was prepared by the weather reporters at KSL in Salt Lake. I knew it was a grim season, but hadn’t realized how bad it really was. Park City normally gets 360 inches of snow, according to KSL. Last winter they had only 194 inches, or a shortfall of 166 inches or roughly 13 feet (I’m assuming that is at the Jupiter snow stake, but the reporting didn’t say). Deer Valley normally reports 300 inches, and measured 220 inches last winter, or 6 feet below average. No wonder the rocks weren’t covered.

If the drought continues, parking at the ski areas may be the least of our problems. People are still grumbling about the paid parking system at PCMR for next year. Details are thin, but it sounds like a charge of about $25 per day, with discounts for full cars. They are trying to park skiers rather than cars, so a full car gets rewarded. Parking at the Canyons side will remain free for now, which ought to make the lines at the gondola and orange bubble lifts even worse. Nobody is happy about it, but it seems inevitable.

The parking problem isn’t the visitors. They use the bus, or pack the whole family into a rental car. The parking problem is us. I ski with a group of friends who all arrive one to a car. We come from different directions, and while I suppose we could add an hour to the trip driving around to gather people up from Heber to Summit Park and all points in between, it doesn’t work. I know several couples who end up driving two cars to the resort because they can’t agree on how long to stay. So there are two cars coming from the same house, which has a bus stop on the corner.

On crowded days, we have combined into fewer cars by meeting at a central location and carpooling for the last couple of miles. That only sort of works because there isn’t a legitimate carpool lot. Charging for parking should improve the efficiency of the parking lots by getting more people in each car. It will also make the resort’s parking problem everybody else’s parking problem. Fresh Market will have to put attendants in their lot, and that cost gets added to the price of groceries (and the attendant who can’t afford to live here will commute from somewhere in a car that will need a place to park).

The whole system seems to be based on telling us where we can’t park. We can’t park in the neighborhoods. We can’t park on the street at Deer Valley. The parking at the skating rink is supposed to be for skaters, and the parking at the dog park is for dogs. Businesses think their parking lots are for their customers. Main Street thinks Swede Alley is for them. We’ve become experts at telling people where they can’t park. It would be useful to start telling people where they can park. Anybody who has trained a puppy knows that if you tell him not to chew on your shoes, he will chew on your shoes. If you give him something he can chew on, he will leave your shoes alone. People aren’t so different.

For locals who ski a lot, parking will be more expensive than skiing. At 25 days, the parking fees equal the price of the Epic Locals Pass. At 80 days a year, $25/day is $2,000; the Epic Locals pass is $626. It’s just a coincidence, but the cost of the Epic Locals and a full season of paid parking at PCMR is the same price as a season pass at Deer Valley. At least until the number of locals who abandon PCMR and move to Deer Valley overwhelms their parking, and they begin to charge. The cost will change behaviors in ways we won’t know until it happens.


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