Tom Clyde: Drought and paid parking

Tom Clyde, columnist for Park Record.

There is a spring that comes out of the side of the mountain and flows into my main irrigation channel below. It is intermittent and begins to flow around the first of May, within 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 also variable, a real gush in some years and a drip in others. This year, the spring began to flow as expected, with water appearing in the hay farm ditches on April 28. On May 2, it had dried up. We are going to have a difficult summer.

I came across a chart of snow totals at ski resorts for the year. It was prepared by KSL weather reporters in Salt Lake. I knew it was a dark season, but I didn’t realize how bad it really was. Park City normally receives 360 inches of snow, according to KSL. Last winter they were only 194 inches, a shortfall of 166 inches or about 13 feet (I guess that’s at Jupiter’s snow peg, but the report didn’t say so). Deer Valley normally reports 300 inches and measured 220 inches last winter, 6 feet lower than average. No wonder the rocks weren’t covered.

If the drought persists, 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 slim, but it looks like a charge of around $25 a day, with discounts for full cars. They try to park skiers rather than cars, so a full car is rewarded. Parking on the Canyons side will remain free for the time being, which should further aggravate queues at the gondola and orange bubble lifts. No one is happy about it, but it seems inevitable.

The parking problem is not the visitors. They use the bus or pack the whole family in a rental car. The parking problem is us. I’m skiing with a group of friends who all arrive one by one. We are coming from different directions, and while I suppose we could add an hour to the drive to get people together from Heber to Summit Park and all the 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 the length of stay. So there are two cars coming from the same house, which has a bus stop around the corner.

On busy days, we combined fewer cars by meeting in a central location and carpooling the last few miles. It only works because there is no legit carpool lot. Parking pricing should improve the efficiency of parking lots by getting more people into each car. This will also make the station’s parking problem the parking problem of everyone else. Fresh Market will have to put attendants in their lot, and that cost is on top of the price of groceries (and the attendant who can’t afford to live here will be commuting 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. You can’t park in the neighborhoods. You can’t park on the street in Deer Valley. The skating rink parking lot is supposed to be for skaters only and the dog park parking lot is for dogs only. Companies think their car parks 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 helpful to start telling people where they can park. Anyone who has trained a puppy knows that if you tell him not to chew your shoes, he will chew your shoes. If you give him something he can chew on, he’ll leave your shoes alone. People are not that different.

For locals who ski a lot, parking will be more expensive than skiing. At 25 days, the parking fee is equal to the price of the Epic Locals Pass. At 80 days per year, $25/day equals $2,000; the Epic Locals pass is $626. It’s just a coincidence, but the cost of 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 residents dropping PCMR and moving to Deer Valley overwhelms their parking and they start charging. The cost will change behaviors in ways we won’t know until it happens.

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