December 24, 2021
2021-12-24 Message from the Mayor

As members of Alta’s community, you are well aware that parking in the Town of Alta (TOA) is challenging and is changing. I am sorry that our community members are experiencing so much uncertainty about how they can continue to live and work in Alta as they have for years.

The town staff, marshals, attorneys, and I have been working diligently for months on what we can do to make parking more convenient for our community members in light of changes at the ski area. We have engaged in many rounds of discussion with Alta Ski Lifts (ASL) and our partner agencies – the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). The Town Council passed the ordinances needed to create a paid parking system. And we have drafted a contract with a vendor of parking management services. I have personally been involved in the great majority of these conversations and have attended to many details of parking in Alta.

Much of the TOA is on USFS land. Historically, cabin owners, lodge guests, employees, and the general public have parked on areas within ASL’s Special Use Permit, which is issued by the USFS. The TOA worked in good faith with ASL for months on a parking plan once we were told that the USFS would allow them to charge for parking. In October we thought we had come to an agreement that would address many of the parking challenges. However, ASL demanded changes to the terms of agreement.

Some terms desired subsequently by ASL are terms that the TOA simply can not ethically or legally accept as a municipality (such as closing all parking before 8:00 am or granting parking privileges to specific individuals according to ASL’s unilateral judgment of their deservingness). About a month ago, the USFS shifted its position from requiring the TOA and ASL to coordinate and has largely given ASL carte blanche to manage parking on its Special Use Permit. On behalf of the TOA, I decided earlier this week that time had run out and that rather than continue to chase a moving target or simply cede control of the TOA’s parking to ASL entirely, the TOA would develop its own plan.

The TOA recently obtained a Special Use Permit from the USFS to manage parking on land owned by the USFS that is outside ASL’s Special Use Permit. Our permit, plus parking on land owned directly by the TOA, brings the number of parking spaces managed by the TOA to about 95 overnight spaces and 30 day-time only spaces. All other parking in Alta is on ASL’s Special Use Permit. The TOA and ASL have agreed that overnight parking permits issued by either entity will be valid to park in any overnight parking area. We are working hard on rolling out full details soon.

I encourage everyone to use public transportation when possible and carpool when they can to lessen their need for parking. Homeowners, residents, lodge managers and commuting employees who are not able to have their needs met by the resources managed by the TOA or by decreasing their use of vehicles have been invited by the ASL to apply to it to obtain parking. I appreciate ASL’s willingness to help meet the parking needs of our community.

Harris Sondak

Town of Alta