City Government

Sign Posted AFTER Ticket Issued

By Steve Stuebner

The other day, I walked to my Honda Odyssey after work in Bodo, and I got doubled-punched in the gut by a $36 parking ticket.

Now, wait a minute, I thought. My van’s been here for only 1.5 hours, and I don’t see any “No Parking” signs here. Turns out I was busted for parking within 30 feet of a stop sign. I had never heard of this rule. Many parking zones in the residential and downtown area allow parking to within 10 feet of a stop sign.

Turns out I’m pretty ignorant. So were 1,214 other unwitting people who got zapped for the same violation in 2007. I bet they’re pretty ticked off, too.

I watched a guy from ACHD put up a “No Parking” sign in the zone where I got busted… a week AFTER I filed a citizens complaint in the mayor’s office.
I can’t believe how overzealous Boise Parking Control has become. So I say to the city, if you’re going to stick people with a major fine, at least mark it BEFORE issuing the ticket!

I used to work as a reporter covering the Idaho Legislature in the 1990s, so by virtue of my job, I had to engage in guerrilla parking tactics to meet my deadlines and avoid getting soaked for a gazillion dollars in parking fines. The fines in those days were $8 per violation for an expired parking meter. It was reasonable, and you deserved it if you got caught.

Now, a decade later, we find Boise Parking Control vaulting from $711,000 in annual revenues from parking tickets in 2005 to an eyelash shy of $1 million, just two years later. Parking meter violations will cost you $15 now, or more.

Indeed, the meter police are kicking butt and taking names. With the higher and more aggressive fine schedule to work with, the city is padding its revenues while driving people away from downtown.

I work downtown, in Bodo. I pay $20 for monthly parking for safe refuge. But there’s always those times when you’re on the run, and you’ve got to slip in quickly for a meeting, and then it’s out again to see another client. Many others have to do the same thing. I’m not unique. If you stay too long in a 2-hour zone, you’re zapped $15. If you overstay a meter zone, it’s $15. Two tickets a day at $30, and you’re thinking, huh, I really got nailed today. Thanks Boise City. Love you too.

Other people might be visiting downtown to go shopping, have a meal, check out a gallery, have coffee, whatever. Depending on where they park, and the outcome, I am sure that the overly aggressive Boise Parking Control make them twice about coming downtown again.

The fines have to sting or working people would plug potential retail spaces for little to no pain, and that’d be bad. OK. It’s fine to make it sting, but the city doesn’t have to gouge people! Monthly parking costs $20-$80 or more downtown. Two tickets in one day, and you’ve already hit $30. Mayor Beiter and the Boise City Council need to rethink this over-aggressive policy on parking fines.

The point is, even if the parking area in front of the stop sign is not posted “No Parking,” you’re still responsible for knowing this law – even though everything else downtown is extremely well marked in terms of what’s “No Parking,” and what’s open for parking. So I think that’s what threw me off.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Badge heavy meter maids is the problem. The parking within 30′ of an intersection that is not signed is below the belt. However, if you choose to ignore feeding a meter and get tagged, that comes under the heading of “tough darts” for you.

    If meter fines are too cheap people will simply pay the fine and park anywhere and call the fine a cheap place to park.

    Heard Paul J. on 670 KBOI a few years back having a beef with the 30′ deal for some event downtown that he attened and got a ticket for this same thing.

  2. Steve, recently this very same thing happened to a friend of mine at another location downtown. He had parked in the same place several times over the past couple of years and didn’t know the rules had changed. $36.00. There were not any “no parking signs within 30 feet” posted anywhere around.

  3. I also parked unaware near Boise State (I usually ride my bike but it was very snowy that day). I am at school almost the entire day, and I come back to find two tickets for one violation. According to Stew Prince (the manager) they can ticket as much as they want every two hours. Totaled 30 dollars, and if I didn’t pay in two weeks it would be fifty dollars.

    That’s where your revenue is coming from. Poor college students like me.

  4. Let’s see if any of our city leaders will step up and fix this with ACHD….I bet no one has the guts to do what is right and fix this…they just don’t care.

  5. Maybe some of the aggressive parking enforcement folks should give the BPD lessons on how to enforce speeding and red light running laws.

  6. As I have learned over the years, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Believe it or not, that information is posted in the Drivers Manual that you use to study for the test. Unfortunatly, those of us who have been in this state for a while haven’t had to take that test and may not be aware of it. Thanks for taking the time to let everyone know not to park illegally…and remember the Parking officials are just doing their job! If you have complaints…don’t waste them on the little guy. I have seen those poor people being abused by the general public on more than one occassion.

  7. Fix what? This is done by design so, from their standpoint, there is nothing to fix. Their system is working just fine! I remember the 30′ thing from posted signs in other areas, but this is CS!

  8. Its just another form of taxation–justified to a certain extent by the limited parking downtown. Its no wonder, downtown businesses have a hard time making things work. Go downtown, struggle to find parking, risk expensive tickets or go the Mall? Still regulation of available spaces is better than building or developing more parking spaces.

  9. The parking patrol has a very simple job, walk around, when a vehicle is in violation, give the vehicle a ticket. The parking staff do not know if the vehicle has been there 1 minute or 1 hour. The staff who work in parking are the favorite target of angry motorists, who would do better to be egnaged at the policy level inseatd of the street level. That being said, I have worked in the parking field as a consultant and I am no fan of the strategy of burying parking regulations into small print city codes and then expect each citizen and visitor of the state to read and understand all the rules prior to spending their money and time downtown. Such an approach is a hinderance to the community. There are solutions in the industry such as the computerized handheld ticket issuance devices. On demand these devices can show the entire citation history of the car. If the vehicle has not been cited before, that is a good opportunity for a warning to be issued to educate the motorist. Prior violations would be a revenue fine. In the industry we say the goal of enforcement is complaince not revenue. To a good citizen a warning is just as effective as a dollar value citation. When I managed a parking enforcement operation in another state, I ensured a vehciles first citation was always a warning, and we inserted a sheet of parking regulations with the warning. I also insisted that my enforcement staff issue at least 20% warnings each day. In summary this is a policy and management issue, not overbearing enforcement staff.

    I would also suggest that ACHD should be painting the curbs 30′ from the stop sign red. This is done in many communities and I believe it to be the better practice. Too many signs and you have sign graffitti and the result is people do not notice or understand all the signs. Who does not know what a curb painted red means?

  10. I have a friend who is a downtown ticket patrol. I asked him the other day if there were any habitual metered parking abusers and he said there are tons of them. He knows their cars. I’m with JJ though and first time offenders need to get a warning. They can tell with those hand held ticket machines. I got one of those tickets too. Most of them come from a certain employee known by those who know as the “Ticket Nazi”, driving one of those three wheeled rigs. Watch out for un- marked fire hydrants as well. They write tickets everyday by the hydrant on the corner where I work. Easy money for the city. More PTSD for us.

  11. Here is a link to the Idaho Driver’s manual. Read it and quit whining.

  12. Registration – $150
    Gas – $4/gallon
    Parking Tickets – $36 on up
    Emissions Inspection – what is it, $20?

    Hopefully we can all agree – Treasure Valley’s roads will be MUCH more pleasant when we get all the POOR PEOPLE off them! And maybe some of that money can be diverted to actually MAINTAINING the roads!

  13. Bikeboy, I couldn’t agree more here are some other ideas:

    Get rid of libraries, I get all my information from the internet so why should I pay for poor people to get free video rentals and internet access at the library.

    Charge for Police and Fire services based on use statistics by subdivision, so all the poor people in the trailer parks beating up their spouses and kids and cooking meth will pay more property taxes for the emergency services they regularly use. This will incentivize the poor to clean up their neighborhoods.

    We can then use the financial savings to help subsidize the cost of the expensive equipment needed for gated communities for law abiding contributing citizens such as CCTV, automatic gates and higher walls.

  14. I’m a very law abiding citizen but I too, was recently blessed with a parking ticket. My voilation, parking in front of city hall around 5:45 p.m. and going back to my car at 5:55 p.m. I called City Hall because last I knew, the parking meter enforcement stopped at 5 p.m. Not so … apparently, they moved it to 6 p.m. I was told “about a year ago.” The told me if I had bothered to read the parking meter, I would have known that it was changed to 6 p.m. I ask you, have you read your parking meter lately?? My question is, why move it to 6 p.m. when parking in the parking garages is now free for the first hour?? Had I know that after 5, I would have to pay, I would have done that or parked in the parking garage for free. Guess I know now. Thought I’d share it with you all in case you haven’t read your parking meter lately. There was no mercy for my ignorance of the law so I contributed to the revenue as well. We all do what we can to make sure the city has plenty of money to spend. I’m glad I could help out.

  15. I’m glad I’ve triggered a little conversation on this topic. I like the concept of a warning on first offense. Thanks.

  16. Bike boy and JJ thank you! Finally we have some solutions that make sense! We could even have a community(subdivision) lynching if someone went over the quota for police, fire and ambulance service.

  17. And that’s the reason I never go to downtown Boise if I can possibly avoid it.
    I’ve always seen parking meters as a “Keep out of our town!” sign, or at least a “Stop for a brief time, spend money, and then go the hell away” sign.
    They don’t want people hanging around, browsing the stores, maybe buying things, eating in the restaurants, attending events, etc.

    However, in most cities any bigger than a football field, *all* no-parking areas (whether near corners, near stop signs, at pedestrian crosswalks, whatever) are painted red.
    Of course, the cities that do that don’t get to rip off thousands of dollars from us non-lawyer types who can’t possibly keep track of which laws apply where and when they were changed. (Come to think of it, neither can lawyers — or even judges. Sit in a courtroom for a spell and listen to them argue, and also notice how often the judge grabs his law books to check out a law he’s not familiar with.)

    The city says the whole thing is about keeping traffic moving; it obviously doesn’t do that, or the city wouldn’t be raking in thousands of dollars all the time. So it’s obviously really all about bringing in money.

    And, two questions: The streets are owned by ACHD, so how come the city can set the laws and collect the meter coins and fines?

    And, if you really think about it, the streets are owned by all of us, not the city or ACHD or county or state. Yep, they’re owned by we the people, the same as parks and libraries are. Wonder how people would react if they had to feed a meter to spend a few minutes in a park or library and then pay a big fine if they stayed a few minutes too long?
    (Oh! I hope no city officials read that last part, or you’ll be seeing parking meters popping up beside picnic tables and benches, and eventually a ticket booth at the entrance to the library where you pay the admission fee.

    Once, many years ago, the tiny city of Murphy had one (Yep, just one) parking meter. Somebody shot it! Them thar cowboy types in Owyhee County know how to deal with robbers!

  18. The “closing time” for parking was 6pm well before they started enforcing it. There was “an understanding” that they quit checking at 5pm, then they started.

    I hate paying for parking, personally, but I have come to like the garages well enough. I’m usually down there on business, and I can afford $1.50/hour for hours 2..n on those occasions.

    I think the city needs some out-of-the-box thinking here, though. Something like Bogus Basin selling season passes for only $199. I’m not sure what the solution is, especially if demand exceeds supply, but annoying “customers” is no way to do business.

  19. I stopped going to Eight Street Marketplace for lunch before it even became Bodo. They had wiped out most of the available parking spaces and where I was going to lunch did not provide parking lot validation. So it dropped off my lunch list.

    We may be responsible for knowing the law. But with unmarked corners and and others with parking meters within six feet or so of the corner, how are we supposed to intuitively know that we have to leave 30 feet elsewhere? And if that is consistently enforced (not just when Boise is low on pocket change) it wipes out even more spaces and makes downtown that much less friendly.

    Years ago, I got ticketed at 5:50 p.m. when I had dashed into Ballou Latimer Camera Store for five minutes to grab film for a job that night. Tickets were only $1 then but I was livid. There was no one around to need that space but the parking enforcer — and me.

  20. A LOGICAL solution to this debate would be to eliminate the priviledged status of the mayor and council. THEY park for free at taxpayer expense in the basement of city hall!

    Imagine if THEY had to pay to park like the rest of us who attend those lengthy meetings.

  21. I am reminded of ‘double secret probation’ in Animal House. I have found that government gets cute with such secret fines when they feel strapped for money and know tax and fee changes will be fought so…they pretend there is some morality in hidden fees and fines.

  22. I agree with NoWhiners on this one.

    Read the Drivers manual:

    It’s plainly state on page 2-8. People get tickets all the time in neighborhoods for this as well. It is not just downtown and is for safety reasons.

  23. Years ago I worked at 9th and State. At that time there was no garage space available for all day parking, and the area around Boise High was also limited by time. So I parked at a meter, collected tickets and paid them in a bunch every few weeks. One day my spouse called and told me the Sheriff was at our house with a warrant for my arrest. I owed about $40.00 bucks – fortunately I had already mailed the check so they didn’t drag me away.

    We don’t go downtown much any more except to see how much things have changed.

  24. Another reason a lot of people do not shop downtown anymore. The parking garages are fine if you want to come out with a dinged up car. Even a small car will not fit within the parking spaces.

  25. Glen Tarmack
    Mar 3, 2008, 12:29 pm

    What’s an “unmarked fire hydrant”? That one’s a no-brainer and should get a ticket.

  26. Seriously? ” Turns out I was busted for parking within 30 feet of a stop sign. I had never heard of this rule.”

    Please refer to the 9th bullet on page 30.

    In fact, maybe read the whole thing.

  27. Glen T., For one thing it’s a hydrant that hasn’t been paintd red in years in a very public place where parking space is at a premium. The curb near it is also not painted red. It is easy to miss unless of course you are a dog. I use a sliding scale with my warning notes. If I see a fatcat SUV or rediculous PU truck parked there I figure they have the coin to pay the fine. If it is a blue collar working stiff car I leave a note on it.

  28. I’m impressed by Bryce — not many of us have the time, patience, fortitude, inclination, whatever, to reread the entire driver’s manual, traffic code (lots of its stuff isn’t in the manual) and all other laws every year to keep up with what has changed.

    Betcha, though, that they make enough off all those parking tickets to buy a whole lot of red paint, and maybe even pay some poor working-class slob to apply it in appropriate places.
    Or perhaps they could give some naughty parkers a choice: Pay the fine or paint X number of feet of red at the places we tell you to. Would save the naughty, naughty person who parked wrong from skipping lunch for a week, give him/her some exercise, and serve as a warning to all the rest of us.

  29. Not that I take the time to read it. I remember it from drivers education 13 years ago and know plenty of people who have got tickets for it all over the valley, not just downtown.

  30. It sounds like most of you didn’t realize that parking within 30 feet of a stop sign is illegal (ask ACHD about the “traffic triangle” if you have a couple of hours to numb your brain). But what about those that do know it is wrong but still do it. I confronted a guy the other day who parked in a handicap place, with no blue placard on his mirror and no special plates. He didn’t care, and stayed right there, and he acknowledged the fact he was parking illegally. $30 for a mistake, okay, little steep. But how is parking control suppose to figure out who is lying and who honestly made a mistake. Someone years ago said that 80% of the problems are caused by less that 20% of the people. The rest of us have to pay for it.

  31. You all should watch Parking Wars on A&E. I think you have all been on there. If you think we have it bad check out the tv show. I think two new episodes air tonight. It is very entertaining.

  32. Hi all,

    Channel 2 did a piece on my parking beef tonight. Parking Control got more air time than I did, but whatever. Check it out on their web site

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