CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper is considering changes to parking regulations in Casper. Higher fees for recreational vehicles (RV) parking permits and lower fees for private handicap parking spaces are among the changes being contemplated.
Community Development Director Liz Becher told the Casper City Council during their Tuesday, Feb. 23 work session that a team of city staff have been working on possible changes to the city’s parking regulations as the city moves toward a new software system called Intergov that will help streamline permitting and licensing in Casper.
She said that the last time the city’s parking manual was updated was in 2010. Becher said the goal is to make parking rules and permitting “simpler for our citizens.”
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Becher said that city staff want to reduce the fee for private handicapped parking spaces from $300 per year to $50 per year since the $300 fee may be a hardship for some members of the disabled community in Casper.
At the same time, staff is proposing raising the RV parking permit fee from $25 to $500 per year. Becher said that private companies tend to charge $500-$800 per year to allow people to park RVs in their lots for a year.
Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters said the thinking behind the fee changes was to decrease the fees for permits that someone needs (private handicap parking spaces) and increase the fee to a more appropriate level for people who don’t need a permit but want one for the convenience it offers (RV permits).
“That’s why we’ve proposed a very much reduced fee structure for those who need it,” he said. “For those that want…..we wanted to get that up to the more appropriate level.”
Council member Kyle Gamroth asked how many of each type of permits the city has issued.
Becher said that the city brings in about $4,000 “in combined parking permit revenue each year.” Only about 10-15 RV permits are issued each year.
The permits allow people to park RVs (or horse trailers, etc.) on the street from spring to the first snow in the fall. RVs are prohibited to be parked on city streets in the winter.
RVs can be parking without a permit on city streets for up to five days without a permit. Council member Khrystyn Lutz noted that people could avoid needing to get a permit by moving the vehicle every five days.
Becher acknowledged that this is a loophole and may be a reason the number of permits issued are low.
Gamroth asked how the city enforces such parking rules. McPheeters said this is primarily complaint driven and that the police department tends to get involved only after citizens raise concern about a particular vehicle being parked too frequently in the same space or causing safety issues.
Council member Bruce Knell said that he opposed raising the permit fee for RV parking permits since owners are “already paying more” for license plates and fuel.
He said that if the private handicap parking permits are a hardship for people, the city should consider eliminating the fees entirely: “Why charge them at all?”
Public Services Director Andrew Beamer said the proposed $50 annual fee (plus $25 first time application fee) wouldn’t cover the cost the city incurs for producing and installing signage for the spots, though the fees would help offset that cost.
Staff also proposed changes to the permit application process for RV parking permits. Under current rules, owners seeking a permit need to get signatures from their neighbors indicating they are okay with the vehicle being parked on the street as part of the application process.
McPheeters said that in some cases, neighbors may feel pressured to provide their signatures even if they don’t want the vehicle parked on the street.
“They are put on the spot and they don’t want to be that neighbor [who says no],” McPheeters said.
Instead, staff proposed changing the rules to ask police department staff to go to the neighbors of someone seeking an RV parking permit to collect signatures.
McPheeters said an additional reason for this proposal was to avoid having people go knock on doors “and not know who is going to be answering the door.”
Mayor Steve Freel said he wasn’t keen on the idea of putting police department resources toward going around and collecting these signatures. Instead, he proposed a process in which neighbors could voice their objections to a permit being issued.
Becher suggested that the city could inform neighbors (via the mail) when someone living next to them applies for a permit and give them the opportunity to object to the permit being issued.
The council also discussed possible changes to rules about parking on parkways (the often grassy space between a roadway and a sidewalk). Under Casper’s current rules, parking on parkways is prohibited, but Becher said the city has not been enforcing these rules since 2017 at the direction of the city council.
During Tuesday’s discussion, council indicated that they would like to look at allowing people to park on certain parkways (for example on 12th and 13th Street) if they take on the cost themselves of paving the parkway.
The parkways are owned by the city but are the responsibility of property owners to maintain.
A number of other possible changes to parking regulations are detailed in the council’s work packet. On Tuesday, the council asked that staff prepare a specific proposal that includes rules for parking on the parkway.
Staff will prepare the proposal for further consideration at a future work session.