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Access Management and Parking Strategy Implementation: Parking Pricing


The Community Vitality Department will be leading an effort in 2018 to develop guiding principles and policies regarding the appropriate pricing of public parking to meet multiple community goals.  The effort will focus on short-term (i.e., hourly) public parking and the Neighborhood Parking Permit (NPP) residential permit rate, as well as the rate of parking fines.  The review will encompass multiple priorities including management of access to and use of parking spaces in the public right-of-way as community infrastructure and a valuable public asset, integration with the Access Management and Parking Strategy (AMPS) which includes the SUMP parking principles (shared, unbundled, managed and paid), integration with the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) multimodal and retail strategy, public access to community institutions and economic impacts on commercial and retail centers.    

The city of Boulder has a long history of paid parking, starting with installing meters in the downtown in 1946. The short-term rates (both on-street and in the garages) were last raised in 2007 for on street parking to $1.25 per hour and $1.25 per hour for the first four hours and $2.50 per hour after four hours in the downtown garages.  The residential NPP permit rates were raised in 2006 from $12 to $17 per year.  Long-term permit rates in the city’s surface lots and garages were scheduled for biannual increases, but demand and market conditions have necessitated increases annually since 2014.  The increases have ranged from 4-16 percent per year.  NPP commuter permit rates are updated based on demand for the permits in the NPP zones.  The commuter permit price has increased from $60 per quarter in 2002 to $100 in 2017.  The areas primarily affected by paid parking management are the Downtown, University Hill Commercial District and Boulder Junction.  

Status and Next Steps

An extensive community engagement process will be integral to the review and development of recommendations. A special focus will be on education about the role pricing plays in managing parking to create community access. Special efforts will be made to involve business owners within the city’s commercial and retail centers as well as public outreach. Boards and commissions also will play an important role in providing feedback and reviewing recommendations. 

A review of best practices across the country will be a basis for considering the appropriate approach in Boulder. (For example, with advanced technology, cities have used a variety of methods to manage parking supply including demand- or performance-based pricing, pricing by zones, and pricing to ensure a predetermined number of vacancies.) Data from the Chautauqua Access Management Plan (CAMP) pilot will inform the project. The effort will involve other city departments including the Municipal Court, Transportation and the City Manager’s Office.  

Council Action

  • Second Quarter 2018 – Staff will seek City Council input on the proposed project scope, schedule, community engagement plan and goals. Final recommendations are expected within the second quarter of 2018.


Molly Winter, Community Vitality director, [email protected] or 303-413-7317