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Parking Two Hours on Boise Streets: $4.50?

City of Boise prepares to hear public comments July 23 on proposal for Saturday enforcement, higher rates

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Boise city officials say this summer's installation of 200 so-called "smart" parking meters--the first wave of more than 800 meters to be installed in the downtown area over a four-year period--are intended to "leverage city resources." That's government-speak for collecting more money.

Meters currently charge $1 per hour. Officials with the city's Department of Finance and Administration want to jack that up to $1.50 for the first hour and $3 for a second hour.

Now that the first meters have appeared in BODO and around City Hall, city leaders will be asked later this month to approve the higher rates, a transition away from limited free on-street parking zones toward more meters and, perhaps the most controversial piece of the new strategy, Saturday meter enforcement until 8 p.m. in a downtown square bordered by Myrtle, Jefferson, Fifth and 10th streets.

Boise Weekly first reported in late May that the city was anxious to charge more at the new meters (BW, Citydesk, "Boise Officials Looking at Possible Charge For Saturday On-Street Parking," May 22, 2013), in an effort to push more long-term parkers toward six downtown parking garages, owned and operated by the Capital City Development Corporation. As a comparison, if the Department of Finance and Administration has its way, it would cost $4.50 to park for two hours in front of a smart meter, versus $2.50 for two hours in a garage.

As for charging Saturday visitors to park on city streets, officials at Finance and Administration are asking the Boise City Council to approve what they call an "Extended Hours of Enforcement Pilot" that would include 26 blocks in Boise's inner core, bordered by Myrtle, Jefferson, Fifth and 10th streets. The pilot could run as short as six months or as long as a year before city officials measure its success and decide whether to make it permanent.

In early June, downtown merchants were given an opportunity to voice their concerns at a sparsely attended public workshop--fewer than 20 people showed up (BW, Citydesk, "Downtown Boise Merchants Weigh In On Smart Meters," June 7, 2013).

"I don't like the idea of doing it on Saturdays," Barbara Krogh, owner of Barbara Barbara & Co. told BW. "I think we're going to see a lot less business."

Dan Balluff, owner of the City Peanut Shop, said he was wasn't thrilled with the extended enforcement being proposed.

"I think it will be a real detriment to business downtown to have extended hours in the evening and on Saturdays," he said.

Nonetheless, city officials are nudging the proposal forward; a City Hall public hearing on the issue is set for Tuesday, July 23.

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