BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Happy Holidays from your neighborhood parking enforcement officer!
We figured since you felt like shopping downtown, you’d feel jolly enough to fill Cheyenne coffers with several dollars in parking citations. You know, it’s going to a good cause, like our new extended cab pick-ups — the ones that take up three parking spots — while we write up some Christmas cheer. ¡Feliz Navidad!
Downtown parking has always been a joke. From Cheyenne patrons bitching, unwilling to walk two blocks to a business
to the downright corruption in "look the other way" handshake deals at the Cheyenne Country Club.
|Parking in downtown Cheyenne can be problematic.|
Hell, a year ago I voted "yes" after much debate with the Cheyenne Police Department about bringing technology into the parking garage. When I asked the City Council if there had been any improvement in downtown parking after the implementation of tech, the answer from the only council member who wrote me back was, “Doubt it.”
Since I don’t work or own a business downtown, I asked the following questions to those who do, inquiring: "In one sentence how would you describe downtown parking and how it could be improved?" Here are a few responses.
— “Like Napoleon’s March on Moscow. Move it out of police, get a new director, don’t drive F 150s. Get the expensive software you paid for working prior to implementation.”
— “Downtown parking is a scam that negativity affects local employees and businesses owners. Possibly timed parking meters would be much less biased and less likely to do the bidding of crooked officials whom seem to spend our money. Or better yet, free parking and then the problem would dissolve itself. There is very limited parking downtown in most cities. Most people don’t park long. Let them.”
— “Downtown parking is over regulated, and paid parking lots are underutilized. More privatization of parking lots, and deregulation of the city's parking lot requirements on private businesses (ie curb, gutter, and landscaping requirements) would make it more possible for private businesses to accommodate their customers with parking spaces.”
— “Downtown parking is scary and inconvenient. It could be remedied partly by a paid parking garage with security. The city could use the trolley system to take people to and from the downtown area to the garage, if they put it in the West Edge. This will be desperately needed if the Lincoln Theater miss venue ever opens. They also need to provide security for the current parking garage. Vertical parking in Mary’s hole downtown would be nice, but, yes, I know it belongs to the building next door. There should also be more designated state and city employee parking downtown, so that they aren’t taking the street parking spots away from everyone else.We need to go back to street parking meters, where you can park for free for 30 minutes and then an hourly rate to an all-day flat rate. The modern ones take a debit card to pay. Large trucks shouldn’t be able to park in the angled parking spots downtown. They stick out into the street and obstruct traffic.”
— “Parking challenges occur at only at a few places and times (Depot Plaza during events/concerts, 17th Street area during lunch, around certain blocks where employees park on the street and move their cars all day).The parking garage could help much of this problem if people would be willing to walk 2-3 blocks and if short-term garage parking was free or inexpensive and easy to pay.”
— “Employees who work downtown should either be allowed free parking passes to park in the parking garage or be exempt from parking tickets.”
— “Not that I have noticed. I do not believe they are fully working as I can never get it to work.There have been more parking tickets issued, which is hindering people from coming to downtown locations. And in front of my building/business there is construction on both ends of the street (new courthouse on corner and CTC), so the parking is taken up by the construction workers.”
— “Shitty and it definitely needs modified. It's entirely impossible, especially if you are working down there, to park. There's no parking place in the garage without being charged, and the parking Nazi is on that stuff like crack. I ended up with three different parking tickets and she even knew that I was working building this restaurant. She didn't give a crap. Her job was to be the Nazi, and even if you were two minutes late, there was no leeway."
— “It’s only a minor issue as I think people in Cheyenne don’t want to have to walk a block or more to get to their destination, whereas in bigger cities that’s just something that is done daily, commuting. But where could we put more parking? I think there are a few smaller lots that could be enlarged vertically, perhaps despite being an eyesore.”
— “I work off Lincolnway, and the new parking garage technology is a joke. A few of my coworkers have received multiple tickets as the system doesn’t work properly. I received a ticket in the recent months for parking in the same block in one day, never mind having moved my car for an entire hour. The woman patrolling downtown is ice cold, is constantly handing out tickets and won’t even say hello.”
— “As you can see, it’s a hot mess. When your barber/beautician/tattoo artist/waitress /attorney has to leave, you to go move their car to avoid a citation, something isn't working. Or the fact you were going to leave a good tip, but now you got a ticket, so you skimp. Or you got an Uber home from a night bender only to come get your car the next day and have several hundred piled up. Is this really cheaper than a DUI? I even heard the Chamber of Commerce changed their meeting locations in the Depot because of citations on their guests. So much for a business-friendly downtown environment.”
I’ve received so many complaints from patrons and owners about the parking garage. My own car was robbed in there. Granted I didn’t lock my doors, so I deserve no sympathy. But it just goes to show that no one is monitoring it.
People are worried about their vehicles being vandalized or broken into. The cop shop is a block away. I asked the police chief, “Why can’t your guys spin through every time they go to HDQ?” Silly Richard, there is no supporting data that the parking garage is unsafe.
Public perception of the place is sketchy at best, and do I really want to have more criminal incidents just to get data? Seems like a weird request.
Since a previous council and mayor left a huge bond issue for all future councils to deal with for nearly 25 years, what should I expect when it comes to data? Rumor has it that Visit Cheyenne, who paid $54,000 annually to city parking garage, cancelled its contract after the city continued to charge tourists for parking, essentially double dipping.
My recommendation is to create a business zone that has a 20-year, no parking fee rule. Therefore, the locals can enjoy the same privilege as tourists.
If the parking enforcement officers want to distribute notices that say, “Howdy Do Partner! Do you realize we hang people in Cheyenne who overstay their parking time? Move that wagon or pay a hefty fine." Let ’em.
Hell, I'll even concede to letting Cheyenne Frontier Days attach a copy of next summer's night show line-up with these warnings if it generates enough money to pay a rookie cop to drive through the parking garage twice a day.
Maybe a little downtown morale boost will keep the parking enforcement officers off Instagram feeds, and the Laramie County Commissioners won't have to make radio station news fodder when they fight with the mayor, overpaying in unrolled pennies.
Richard Johnson is a former City Council member from Cheyenne’s east side.