BOISE -- We all know that frustrating feeling of circling the downtown Boise core in search of street parking. Now, the City of Boise is hoping to change that by freeing up parking spaces as the area continues to grow.
A proposal is on the table to increase parking fees and enforcement times. On Tuesday night, business owners and other Boiseans weighed in on the proposed changes.
The city anticipates that by making changes to metered parking downtown, longer-term parkers will move elsewhere and there will be more "churn" in the coveted spots in front of restaurants, bars and shops. This was something the majority of downtown business owners who weighed in agreed with on Tuesday.
City leaders are considering "demand-based" changes to metered parking. The proposal the City Council affirmed Tuesday would extend weekday enforcement hours from the current 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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.
A big adjustment for Boiseans and frequent visitors: the proposal the council affirmed after deliberating would also get rid of free downtown Saturday parking in those two zones. Enforcement would start at 10 am. and end at 5 p.m. but drivers would be paying less than they do on a weekday.
"I realize parking is always going to be a touchy issue. But what I want as a merchant is for there to be an easily accessible space for my customers who are coming down and looking for s place to park so they can patronize my business," Rediscovered Books owner Bruce DeLaney told Boise City Council.
Opinions on the changes are certainly mixed: Many are in favor of at least parts of the proposal, while some aren't in support at all.
"I want to see people come downtown; I want to see them go get a coffee at one place, lunch somewhere else, maybe listen to some live music maybe come get ice cream from our shop and not have to worry about how much it's going to cost them to pay for parking , to not have to worry about when their meter is expiring," The STIL co-owner Kasey Allen told the council.
The city says the uptick of events and infrastructure downtown is driving this update; studies show parking is at 90 percent capacity pretty much all day.
Parking ticket fees would also get steeper under the proposed changes, with an 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.
The City Council will officially say 'yay' or 'nay' to the proposal a week from today. If approved, the rate and enforcement changes would go into effect February 1.