It’s a situation as messy as the traffic when you’re leaving Lakewood High School’s parking lot on a weekday afternoon. Despite years of meetings, mediation sessions and Lakewood City Council …
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Lakewood City Councilmember Charley Able says Lakewood has a city-wide parking issue. Aside from Lakewood High School’s parking issues, some HOAs won’t let people park on the streets, according to Able. He said the city is going to do a city-wide parking management study and hopefully institute a city-wide parking management plan. The process is in its very beginning stages.
“There’s just no one size fits all situation with just about anything we do. This management plan will hopefully be tailored to neighborhoods, shopping areas and that sort of thing,” said Able.
It’s a situation as messy as the traffic when you’re leaving Lakewood High School’s parking lot on a weekday afternoon. Despite years of meetings, mediation sessions and Lakewood City Council discussions, the parking situation has not gotten better for the school. At least that’s what some residents and the school say.
Parked cars and parents picking up their children have poured into neighborhoods and some businesses near Lakewood High School, located at 9700 W. 8th Ave. It’s been a problem for years for a school that serves over 2,000 students. Streets near the school have signs installed so students know where not to park, but that hasn’t solved all parking issues.
Earlier this month, the city added a 15-minute loading area along the south side of 9th Avenue, while it awaits the possibility of implementing a city-wide parking management plan — a plan that is only in its very beginning stages, according to City Councilmember Charley Able.
“Everyone has been working to find the remedy for (the Lakewood High School) parking issues, and hopefully (the 15-minute loading area) will have a nice pause until we can get everything addressed in a more global matter,” said Able.
But Tim Reed, executive director of facilities and construction management for Jeffco Public Schools, said there’s virtually no parking along 9th Avenue, an area near the school’s baseball field.
“We have a lot of people that like to go to the baseball games. It would be nice to not make the elderly park in the school lot and have to go a long block to get to the field,” said Reed. “We feel we’ve worked in good faith with the neighbors and community. We would certainly like to come to some kind of reasonable resolution, but I just don’t see it on the horizon right now.”
“We have our positions. The neighbors have theirs, and the city has theirs,” he said.
Rather than adding a loading area, Lakewood High School Principal Daniel Bock says the city was supposed to remove parking restrictions along the south side of 9th Avenue. Reed says changes were supposed to be made at streets near the school -- particularly near Kipling Street, an area that was supposed to see improvements for circulation and access to the school to reduce traffic.
After a mediation process with neighbors, the city, school representatives and district leaders, a list of recommendations emerged from an outside traffic consultant over a year ago. On that list included a recommendation to restripe the school’s parking lot to get additional parking on campus.
MORE: Possible LHS parking fixes presented to city council last year
The school’s student parking lot now has 484 spaces, including 10 handicap spaces after restriping occurred before the 2018 school year, according to Reed. About 14 of those spaces are not available due to storage containers occupying the spaces. Elsewhere on the site, there are 165 spaces for staff and visitors, Reed said.
But additional parking spaces haven’t solved all of the school’s problems. The new spaces are smaller and require parking at more of an angle than the previous parking lot — a dangerous combination for teenagers who have just started driving, Bock said. He said fender benders are a common occurrence in the parking lot, and additional parking has produced longer traffic lines.
“We’re in a pickle, because our lot hasn’t grown in square footage. We were able to realign, but the number of cars has grown over the past 10 years,” said Bock. The number of students who drive to school grows in the spring when more of them are able to get their driver license. “We would love to encourage more pedestrian walking and biking, but we have very few sidewalks to feed into the school. It’s tough to encourage that when we don’t have sidewalks.”
Bock added students have benefited from more parking spaces, and he hopes the school’s efforts have positively impacted the community.
Lakewood High School also opened the swinging gate between the school’s east and west parking lot near West 8th Avenue for weekend events. Bock says steps were taken to keep trash out of neighborhoods that may come from school events including additional trash cans and trash bags. Organizations who use Lakewood High School’s campus on the weekends are continuously sent out information about where people should park and what to do with their trash.
“We did everything we were asked and more,” said Bock.
Diana Shull owns Our Daily Bread Vegetarian Bakery and Deli, a block west of the school. She also lives next to her bakery and deli. Shull opened her business in 2016 and has had parking issues flow into the bakery and deli’s parking lot ever since.
Now that school is in full swing, Shull says students haven’t been parking at her lot. But come spring time when teenagers are getting their driver licenses, she expects unwelcomed vehicles outside her business.
“We were coming home from shopping, and my car lot looked like a used car lot. I tried to talk to some of them in the past saying it’s a private property,” Shull said.
Aside from unwanted parkers, Shull said parents will often pick up students from her business, noting that she likes the students and people from the high school. But some students will leave trash at her bakery and deli’s parking lot, she says.
“I don’t know why something can’t be figured out. There are a lot of intelligent people here,” said Shull.
“Why can’t they figure this out?”
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