Denver's Trying to Un-Clusterf*ck Parking Downtown

Us on a Friday.
Us on a Friday.
No one wants downtown Denver to become one big parking lot, but we'd welcome anything that would make finding a treasured empty space easier — because on a Friday night, it's hard to imagine that there are 43,000 off-street parking spaces downtown.

Now the city has teamed up with Parkmobile, an app that lets smartphone users pay for off-street parking spaces and then receive notifications when their time is close to expiring. Just download the app, and when you find a spot at any of the seven downtown-area parking lots (see end of story) managed by the Department of Public Works, pay for the space over your phone and receive expiration alerts. Meter maids will be notified of payments, which means no tickets!

This isn't the first time Denver has ventured into "smart" parking technology. In 2012, the city tested sensors to zero out meters when spaces were vacated early. "We never ended up using them that way," writes Public Works spokeswoman Heather Burke in an e-mail to Westword. "The sensors were only purchased for a pilot, so we could try to measure how long someone was staying in a parking space, but we ended up deciding to not continue with that system."

But the city isn't ruling out a sensor system entirely. "We didn’t keep that sensor system, and are looking at getting a new one," Burke continues. "But the idea will be to use the sensor system to measure parking utilization/availability (not zero out meters)."

Parkmobile offers a parking-spot-reservation option in select cities, including Kansas City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, that could one day be implemented in Denver, says company spokeswoman Kirstin Robison. Another option for frustrated Denver parkers is ParkiFi, an app that shows users nearby empty spaces.

The future is here, folks.

The public parking lots in downtown Denver include:

Acme Lot, 1430 14th Street
Auraria Lot, 1310 Larimer Street
Bannock Lot, 1345 North Bannock Street
Chestnut Lot, 2004 Chestnut Places
Firehouse Lot, 1322 Blake Street
North Elati Lot, 1395 North Elati Street (open nights and weekends only)
South Elati Lot, 1309 North Elati Street
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Ana Campbell has been Westword's managing editor since 2016. She has worked at magazines and newspapers around the country, picking up a few awards along the way for her writing and editing. She grew up in south Texas.
Contact: Ana Campbell