Longer enforcement hours and higher rates could be coming for downtown Boise parking meters early next year. A proposal from the city would mean visitors would no longer enjoy free parking at meters on Saturdays in the downtown core.
Instead, you would have to feed certain meters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those zones generally run from River Street north to West Jefferson Street and between South 11th Street and North 5th Street.
You would also have to pay to park until 8 p.m. on weekdays system wide.
Over a three-month average, city spokeswoman Lana Graybeal says parking in the core area on Saturdays has exceeded 90 percent.
“Between the market, between the events that are growing downtown, it’s a lot harder to find parking and so [this proposal would] help alleviate some of that and expand options outside of the downtown core” Graybeal says.
She says they want people parking for more than a couple hours to move to a parking garage, use public transportation or bike in instead of using one of the 1,300 meters downtown.
“Parking has been a challenge over the weekends and in the evenings for people coming to a restaurant or shopping,” she says. “There’s not a ton of options for parking within those zones. We’re hoping this will help alleviate that, actually.”
Rates would also increase by between 25 and 75 cents depending on where you park, while fines for parking violations would also go up. Prices for the outer peripheries of downtown wouldn’t change, nor would visitors pay to park on Saturdays.
The first 20 minutes at meters would still be free, as is the first hour in a parking garage.
Wanda Martinat, who owns Goldy’s Bistro, says she’s worried longer enforcement hours and higher rates will drive away customers.
Other businesses say the move would help with turnover at meters and allow more customers to actually get into retail stores.
Kellee Sharples runs the maternity store Buns in the Oven and also serves on the board of directors of the Downtown Boise Association.
She’s in favor of the plan, saying her customers who are pregnant or have kids with them often go home if they have trouble finding a spot.
“They can’t even get to the store that sells the nursing bras because all of the parking is gone,” Sharples says.
Instead, she says they call the store asking for items to be shipped to them or ask for home delivery. Having run her business downtown since 2008, she notes the growth will come with changes, but it’s not meant to push anyone out or dissuade people from visiting.
“This isn’t meant to be punitive and terrible.”
Parking fines would go up under the proposal as well. Letting a meter expire would run you $20 or parking in an accessibility spot would cost $150.
The proposal would go into effect in February if approved by Boise City Council – the same day higher rates for parking garages go into effect.
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