BOISE -- The City of Boise is considering "demand-based" changes to metered parking that could see visitors and employees paying more for a trip downtown.
The proposed changes would include getting rid of free downtown Saturday parking in the downtown core and extending weekday parking enforcement hours from the current 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Metered parking would be enforced from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday in Zones One and Two, roughly between 11th to 5th streets and Jefferson to River streets.
Office of Community Engagement spokeswoman Lana Graybeal said the uptick of downtown events and infrastructure - including hotels and apartment buildings - was driving the update.
"We know that our downtown is growing and changing pretty quickly," she said. "What we're seeing is within the downtown core, we're at about 90-plus percent capacity, pretty much throughout the entire day."
In addition to the extended enforcement hours, rates would increase to $2 from $1.50 for the first hour and to $3 from $2.50 for the second hour within Zone One and to $1.50 from $1 for the first hour and to $2 from $1.25 for the second hour within Zone Two. Rates in Zone Three, located on the outskirts of downtown, will not increase.
The first 20 minutes in metered spots and the first hour in garages will remain free.
The city is hoping the changes will push longer-term parkers into the parking garages or to the fringes of downtown, allowing for more "churn" in the coveted spots in front of restaurants, bars and shops. City officials say they have heard complaints from businesses that many metered spots are taken up by employees or others who leave cars in the spot all day.
"We have gotten response and feedback from some of the businesses, especially around Zone One and Two, where they're not getting the turn that they're looking for and the foot traffic they're hoping for because of people parking longterm," Graybeal said.
Something Bruce DeLaney with Rediscovered Books says will help his business.
"I think it's going to be easier for our customers to come downtown and find a parking space on 8th street, to find a parking space in the parking garage," DeLaney said. "I think it will be food for my custormers."
Meanwhile, other business owners say it's taking advantage of their customers and employees.
"The parking until 8, I think is ridiculous. It's again taking advantage of downtown customers and I think it hurts the businesses," Amy Rose with Fete Style Bar said.
Some saying the proposed changes will actually drive people away from downtown, especially on the weekends.
"It's going to limit people coming downtown. It's just the facts of it all," Brent Giroux, the general manager at Old Chicago said.
"I think if it costs more and they're enforcing more. There will be less people that will just come down period. It might open up a lot of spots, but there's nobody parking in them," Rose said.
Parking ticket fees would also get steeper under the proposed changes, with a expired meter violation setting drivers back $20 and a time zone violation increasing to $25. In addition, parking scofflaws will incur an additional $15 fine for each six-month period the ticket remains unpaid, with fines eventually turned over to collections.
Although the new policy will not be retroactive, city officials say the change is aimed at motivating drivers to pay their fines. As of September, nearly $1 million was owed to the city in unpaid parking tickets.
The proposal comes on the heels of Capital City Development Corp.'s own rate hike of nearly 30 Percent in downtown parking garages.
Boise city council still has to sign off on the plan, and Graybeal noted that council members may approve one part of the proposal, while rejecting another component. The city plans to present the parking changes to the city council in early December, with public hearings following later that month.
If approved, the rate and enforcement changes will go into effect Feb. 1.
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