Citizen group to monitor downtown parking in Parker

COPPS volunteers to track two-hour limit violators

Nick Puckett
npuckett@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/21/20

The Parker Police Department will utilize members of its volunteer citizen support group to monitor the two-hour parking limit in downtown Parker, following complaints from downtown business owners …

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Citizen group to monitor downtown parking in Parker

COPPS volunteers to track two-hour limit violators

Posted

The Parker Police Department will utilize members of its volunteer citizen support group to monitor the two-hour parking limit in downtown Parker, following complaints from downtown business owners of cars consistently overstaying. Parker Town Council, town staff and the police department met during a Jan. 13 study session to examine methods to better enforce the ordinance.

Josh Hans, public information officer for the Parker Police Department said Jan. 16 the department decided to use the Citizens Offering Parker Police Support (COPPS) to help monitor parking.

The current ordinance places a two-hour limit on some street parking downtown between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Hans said the department is "moving from a more reactive approach to a proactive approach."

COPPS is a nonprofit organization run by citizens who completed the Citizens Police Academy, a 26-hour course over 13 weeks about how the Parker Police Department operates.

Parker's COPPS will initially be used to monitor the two-hour parking limit. The COPPS will look for cars that have been violating the law and report it to police. The program is similar to Lone Tree's Volunteers in Police Services and Castle Rock's Community Safety Volunteers. The programs are used in different capacities. In Lone Tree, they often help police with large events or assist people in minor traffic collisions.

Town staff presented the issue in three parts: the two-hour limit, snow routes and town-owned public lots. Parker Police haven't decided whether to use COPPS to help enforce the other parking violations yet. Monitoring the two-hour limit is its current priority.

Hans said to properly monitor the two-hour limit would take the equivalent of at least one full-time officer checking vehicles. The department can't afford to have one full-time officer monitoring parking as frequently as would be necessary. 

The town passed a two-hour parking limit to downtown streets in 2017, following the results of a parking study. The study indicated Parker had plenty of capacity. Parker had more of an issue with management.

“Despite the fact we have a substantial inventory or supply of free public parking, much of the demand is focused on the western portion of downtown,” said John Fussa, the town's community development director, “and that does place some pressure on parking, but the issue is more parking management and turnover. The issue at present is not capacity.”

Many officials agreed the parking issue downtown could be boiled down to an issue of convenience, as well.

“To a point, we have plenty of stalls, it's a matter of people wanting to park in front of Fika,” for example, said Councilmember Josh Rivero, who owns Fika Coffee on East Mainstreet and in Idyllwilde. Rivero offerred the comparison that people would rather walk farther in the Walmart parking lot than they would downtown.

Over time, frequent visitors of downtown learned of lax law enforcement for the on-street parking, causing many to ignore the signs and park indefinitely. The town implemented and educated the public on the ordinance — Rivero and Hans said there may be room for more education — but now the issue is how to enforce it and where the money will come from. The COPPS program, full of eager-to-serve citizens, was the next logical step to solve downtown Parker's parking problem.

Fussa said at some point, in the distant future, a parking structure may be necessary downtown. The current capacity, though, is plenty.

“Downtown parking is always a puzzle, whether it's Parker, Castle Rock or Denver,” Fussa said. “As we monitor downtown parking and evaluate it, we're always looking at the relationship of parking supply and demand and where a structure would go if necessary … We're not there yet.”

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