ACL prompts some Austin residents to open up their backyards

Estefania de Leon

Just as New York City residents know to leave their homes by New Year’s Eve to avoid the hectic holiday, Austin residents know that driving or parking anywhere in the city during the Austin City Limits Music Festival is nearly impossible — especially around Zilker Park. 

Local businesses and surrounding residents, however, are finding innovative ways to accommodate the crowds and, along the way, pocket some extra cash.

One example is local food trailer park, The Picnic. During ACL The Picnic will not just cater to hungry mouths, as its Barton Springs Road parking lot will be open to people looking for a place to leave their cars.

“We have a managing company that handles the collection of money, but the parking lot is built,” said Alastair Jenkin, co-owner of The Picnic. “It’s just going to operate like a normal, paid parking lot — you just pay the guy.”

Drivers will be able to get one of The Picnic’s 80 parking spots on a first-come-first-serve basis, with each spot costing $30.

“The demand for parking has always been high for ACL,” Jenkin said. “There are just not many places to park.”

UT alumnus Jack Armstrong is a real estate broker who has lived in Austin for over 20 years. When ACL started, he saw the demand for parking spaces. Since then, he has been renting out his backyard and driveway for people to park in.

“I’m usually filled, but I probably won’t try to max it out this year,” Armstrong said. “I get people from years past that find me, and they come back. [They] always email me like a week or two before.”

Armstrong said about 12 cars can fit in his backyard and driveway, and he gives everyone a reserved spot.

“I print the people’s names, and they have their own spots,” Armstrong said. “They can come and go, and their spot will be there the next day.”

As far as pricing goes, Armstrong will charge $40 or $45 per day if a person decides to rent a spot for two or more days.

“It is hard for people to get access to my house because roads are shut down, so that’s always the hard part,” Armstrong said.

For Austin resident Sabrina Sklar, ACL became a chance to make money by renting out her condominium parking space.

“I saw a friend posting on Facebook, so I just said, ‘Eh, I’ll post [an advertisement] on Craigslist,’” Sklar said. “There are thousands of people that walk into the city with limited parking, and I figured I’d make some money.”