Rant and Rave: Downtown Parking and Recycling

April 27 2012, 2:26 PM

Rant: Parking downtown is getting ridiculous.

I'm lucky to live just nine blocks from the 5280 office, meaning I walk to work almost every day. But on mornings when I need my car for an interview or an appointment, I have to deal with finding parking, which is becoming an impossible task thanks to the Union Station construction and overnight parking restrictions.

When the redevelopment (read: demolition project) began at Denver’s photogenic train depot, 390 parking spots were eliminated. Since downtown seems more fixated on 15-spot surface parking lots than multi-level parking garages there’s little room to absorb these gas-guzzlers.

If you do find a spot, don’t even think about staying overnight. Last year, the city began phasing in paid overnight parking. Recently, I've noticed that rule applies to two-hour parking zones where you used to be able to park from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Now, if you want to take a cab home after imbibing too much post-Rockies game, you’ve first got to move your car to an open lot (please don’t do this) or face a ticket in the morning. In 2003, then-mayor John Hickenlooper pushed for lower parking meter fees, saying: “Parking meters were not designed to be a revenue generator; they are a tool to manage a scare resource.” Nearly a decade later, things have changed.

So much so, that if you give up circling downtown’s one-ways while looking for an open parking meter and opt for a parking garage, you can expect to pay a lot more for the privilege. Many garages and lots have raised rates—particularly around our offices—and some don’t offer hourly rates (forget about running a quick errand). The LoDo parking garage at 18th and Wazee streets now charges $10 per day (up from $8), and even the small surface lot on the northwest corner of 16th and Wazee streets went from $12 per day to $15 per day (oh, and it's $10 for 30 minutes).

Many urban dwellers will say that is the cost of living in a city. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it. All those parking fees add up, especially when meters are now being sequestered for valet parking (see photo) from 5 p.m. on. All of which means that I'll take walking over parking (most) days.

Rave: Denver Recycles expands its recycling program.

I'm an avid recycler, and for years I've been throwing juice boxes and soup containers into my recycling. Turns out, I wasn't supposed to. But now I can get back in the habit.

In line with a national movement, Mayor Michael Hancock announced on Monday that food and beverage cartons are now approved to be recycled as part of Denver Recycles (sign up for the program here). Newly approved-to-be-recycled food and drink cartons include milk, juice, cream, egg whites and egg substitutes, soup, tofu, and ice cream. So head to the grocery store, eat up, and then throw your containers into that purple bin so paper mills can use them to make new paper towels, tissue, and building materials.