Monopoly and Free Parking don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
The Village parking on Minaret Road has always been a pay lot—payment has just not always been enforced.
“It has been irregular,” said Paul Chang, Director of Finance at Intrawest Hospitality Management, which manages the lot for CNL. CNL is a real-estate investment trust that owns the Village at Mammoth.
In late December of 2013, Intrawest installed a payment system that requires users to display a proof of purchase receipt on the dashboard. If there is no receipt displayed, a warning sticker is placed on the windshield. The payment policy, including the threat of towing, is well displayed at the parking lot entrance and throughout the lot itself.
“Especially on busy days, we’ve had someone in the booth explaining to both locals and tourists our policy,” Chang said. However, these attendants are not allowed to accept cash for parking (as they have in the past), and there are no longer any cash transactions allowed at the site, where parkers pay by credit card at the automated machines. “The system keeps everyone accountable,” Chang said.
“We have towed vehicles,” he said, “but only when [the policy] has been blatantly violated. Most people abide by the rules.”
Parking is roughly a dollar an hour, although $2 an hour, $5 an hour, and $10 an hour are the only payment options. “The price is pretty fair,” Chang said.
“We’re not happy about it,” said Robert Richards, Events Manager for the Village at Mammoth. He noted that many believe the Village parking is managed by the Village itself.
“But it’s somebody’s private land,” he said. “At the end of the day, they can do whatever they want with it.”
Chang seemed unsure of why Village businesses were upset about the paid parking, explaining that the generated income benefits the Village tenants by offsetting their rent.
“We want to create a system where people aren’t poaching the lot [until] there are no spots for patrons,” he said. He also said that validation from Village businesses is “always an option,” but also said it is “more labor intensive” and didn’t really work when tested last season.
Richards wants to remind both locals and visitors that the underground Village lot off of Forest Trail is open during the summer season, free of charge, from the time Canyon Lodge closes until the next ski season.
Unless, of course, the Village Lodge is at full occupancy.
“They have to fulfill their commitment to guests and owners first,” Richards said. He also said that this has been the policy for the last several years, and he hopes people will utilize this service.
Although the parking lot property was recently sold to a developer with plans to build a timeshare resort, the current payment policy will be enforced in the foreseeable future— throughout the shoulder season and into the summer.
The Sheet was cc’d on a copy of a May 2 letter to Patrick Dougherty at The Westin:
Have you tried being a patron and parking? This is not a very easy system and it is confusing, as there is not enough signage, and those strangely-placed little machines don’t always work. And the ugly green stickers need Glue Be Gone to be taken off the windows. It is not a very pleasant thing for the locals or the visitors.
On a recent trip (Easter) to the Village to hear some music and attend the Woolly’s Parade, I was cut short. I didn’t have an ATM card with me (personal choice) and therefore had NO OTHER OPTION but to leave. This doesn’t seem right to me, does it to you?
Although there was an attendant at the kiosk, the fact that I couldn’t pay cash was a disappointment. And without a credit card/ATM card to pay the $2, I couldn’t park.
Are you and the business owners really alright with this system?
From another note to The Sheet dated March 24:
I am very confused about the parking at the Village. Who can I ask more details on this? I don’t like putting in my credit card for $2. Many cars don’t pay and DON’T get the “green sticker of doom” (have you tried to take one of these off your car?). Then one of the ads says “free parking” underground, but the gate is always locked. How does one park at the Village?