Downtown parking overnight? Denver unveils its years-in-the-making, long overdue plan today

For two decades, the Westword office was in lower downtown, where the parking rules seemed to change inexplicably, almost overnight. Or actually overnight: We emerged from one all-nighter to discover that our cars had been turned around by city trucks when the direction of Market Street was reversed. But the new option the city will roll out today has been years in the making.

That option? Overnight, on-street parking downtown.

One of Denver's most peculiar, and pesky, rules has been the ban on parking downtown between 2 and 6 a.m. -- ostensibly because of street-cleaning schedules. As LoDo has grown into a major entertainment area, it's seemed particularly strange that people coming out of the bars at 2 a.m. who have no business driving could not leave their cars on the street without risking a big ticket. And as more and more people have moved downtown, the demand for overnight parking for guests just added to the impetus to change parking rules.

This afternoon, after over a year of discussion, Denver officials will gather at 17th and Wazee streets to start rolling out the new overnight, on-street parking option for downtown. That option will alternate, so that streets can be cleaned every other night -- which means club-hoppers will want to read the fine print before they park for the night. Or have a designated parker to do the job after let-out.

The new rules aren't just designed for bar-hoppers, though. Overnight guests will now be able to park on the streets, and those just passing through will be able to stop in the wee hours by one of those 7-Elevens that are popping up all over downtown. And the city will even be able to collect some cash in the process, since those Smart Meters will be programmed for the overnight fees. Not that those meters are easy to read in the dark.

Better bone up on the rules before you need to park overnight. You can read all about the new program at www.ParkSmartDenver.com

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Pueblo nuclear power plant proposal hearings against backdrop of Japanese explosions."

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