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Abusing the Private Privilege of Taking Public Parking Spaces

Some Boise subcontractors are creating their own rules

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Memo to Boise contractors (and subcontractors): Reserving private parking spaces on public streets is not allowed.

Boise's current construction boom has generated a lot of positive results: good paying jobs, an increase to the city's tax base and an overall impact to the vibrancy of downtown.

While there have been challenges—detours, closed streets and less parking are near the top of the complaint list—most downtowners have been accommodating to the growth.

Though many of the subcontractors have a placard they can put on the dashboard of their vehicle, which allows them to park for an extended amount of time in a public parking space, a recent trend among some of those workers hasn't been too neighborly.

Orange traffic cones blocking or limiting traffic near construction zones are a common sight, but when the cones are used to block off a public parking space and then a subcontractor moves the cones and parks in the space, even city officials say that's a major problem.

"We're talking to our legal team about it," said Craig Croner, Administrative Services manager for the city of Boise. "When they put those orange cones in a public right of way, it's almost like fraudulent signage."

Croner oversees all parking services for the city, which charges $160 per month to commercial vehicles for the privilege of parking in metered spaces—but reserving spaces when the vehicles aren't present isn't an option.

"Our [parking enforcement] guys are out all over the city," he added. "It would be nice if we could catch them in the act."

Boise Weekly did.

We saw two trucks owned by Boise-based TVR—one of the many subcontractors working on the 10-story Marriott Residence Inn at the corner of Broad Street and Capitol Boulevard—pulling into metered parking spaces at Sixth and Broad streets moments after they removed orange cones that had reserved the spaces. As workers emerged from the trucks, we asked them to explain what they had just done.

"We don't have to talk to you," said one of the workers, walking away.

When we called TVR headquarters, we asked company Vice President Dave Tully about his employees reserving public parking spaces for their private use.

"I guess that sounds right," said Tully. "Sometimes we can reserve those spots like that. I'll have to get back to you." He didn't.

If and when Tully talks to someone at Boise City Hall—particularly if that someone is Croner—he'll probably be told to instruct his employees to stop reserving public parking spaces. Parking there with an expensive permit is one thing, city officials say, but reserving the spots is out of line.

"We've been having some challenges there," Croner siad. "You can't reserve a public right of way. We've taken those orange cones away, but somehow they go around town and retrieve them and use them again. It's not just there. It's everywhere."

Croner said he appreciates it when someone speaks up.

"Believe me, we're grateful when people tell us about things like this," he said.

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