City Government

Does Boise Parks Violate Parking Lot Law?

The GUARDIAN has noted numerous complaints of rowdy crowds in the area of the ponds along the river behind the former Bob Rice Ford dealership. We welcome responses from Boise officials. Our reader is alleging an illegal parking lot.

My neighbors and I are fed up with the problems at the yet to be developed Esther Simplot Park.

To the best of my knowledge there are no plans and certainly no permits to develop it. It is still in the design phase. Yet, Boise Parks and Rec has opened up a huge gravel parking lot big enough for more than 100 cars. I am not aware of any other city park, developed or not, which allows parking on unpaved ground. They sure don’t allow it at the currently-developing Marianne Williams Park at Harris Ranch.

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems that Parks and Rec is in violation of city code. We have these rules for a reason. We are a city and we have standards. High standards that protect the health safety and welfare of the people. Hopefully Parks and Rec is no more above than law than you or me. So how are they getting away with this?

Boise Municipal Code says:
11-10-04.04 sub-section B

Surfacing: All parking lots, service drives, vehicle storage areas, and vehicle sales lots shall be paved and constructed to meet the Highway District’s and Boise City Fire Code standards, whichever is more restrictive, for base course and asphaltic concrete mat thickness; curbs and gutters where applicable; utilizing the appropriate traffic index. The design shall be prepared by a licensed, professional engineer.

Exceptions: Gravel surface may be utilized within industrial zones for enclosed storage yards or grounds maintenance areas and for recreational vehicle storage lots approved through the Conditional Use Permit process. Gravel surface may be allowed in commercial zones
where the outdoor storage use has been approved through a Conditional Use Permit. Within the commercial zones, storage yards must be enclosed by a 6 foot high, solid fence and may not be located in front of the main building. All areas must obtain approval from the Boise City Fire
Department and the Boise City Public Works Department.

Note: Regardless of the zone or use, all required parking shall be paved, all of the Highway District’s requirements for access and paving shall be met, and landscape buffers and landscape yards shall be provided as required by the Zoning Ordinance. If the driveway is serving as a required fire lane, it must be paved.

Maintenance of gravel areas should utilize the Best Management Practices set forth in the “Boise Storm Water BMP Guidebook” and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality “Catalog of Stormwater BMPs for Cities and Counties.”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. And we are surprised that a city agency doesn’t follow code????

  2. Mr. Watcher
    Jul 18, 2009, 7:05 am

    Yes it does seem that the laws are for us citizens and we are nothing but subjects that serve and work to support government. Yet another example of this seemingly fact.

  3. We should be angry that a city agency does not follow city code. If they can do it so can anyone else. What’s to stop me from buying the house next to yours, tearing it down and building a strip joint, er, gentleman’s club?

    Like it or not we have planning and zoning and building codes for a reason. Almost every city in the nation has them. The laws have been developed over the years, no, centuries, to prevent conflicting interests.

  4. There is lots of unpaved parking in lots near Front and Capital Blvd

  5. “There are lots of unpaved lots near Front and Capitol.”

    Are you saying the unpaved lot at the end of Pleasanton St is ok because there are other unpaved lots downtown? Please read Boise Code 11-10-04 and explain it to me.

    I’d like to point out the apples and oranges aspect to your statement. There is a ton of infrastructure near Front and Capitol. Esther Simplot park is a regional sized park with only 2 small neighborhood style streets to serve it. It is undeveloped bare ground and there are no permanent bathroom facilities nor is there any drinking water. If there are unpaved lots downtown, then at least the users have developed properties to walk to.

  6. I didnt say that at all. Just pointing out that the lots downtown appear to violate the code too.

  7. Bottom line is this area in question near Pleasanton and 30th has attracted an awful bunch of riff raff. I now avoid the area with my family because it does not seem safe. Foul mouth juvenile delinquents have turned the area into a hangout. I’m speculating that the reason there is a gravel lot there is because the “30th Street Master Plan” has been delayed due to lack of funds. While were waiting for the Park that never was I think Boise’s Finest should start making life miserable for the thugs that clog the greenbelt and intimidate us citizens in that area.

  8. John Q Publique
    Jul 19, 2009, 4:52 pm


    While it appears the parking lot you describe does violate City Code, there is only one way to find out – have someone in the neighborhood show up at City Hall and file a formal complaint. Then keep Guardian readers posted on the progress of that complaint.

    Another thing that could be done is to have someone in the neighborhood call the Mayor’s placebo line, I mean Hot Line, and leave a complaint there. See what action or non – action that brings. Again, if someone does that (we’ll all know because the Guardian will post it), keep Guardian readers up to date on that also.

    I’ve often wondered just how legal the Thrifty Car rental lot on Airport Way is. Seems like it’s just a dirt parking lot with some gravel scattered about it. Maybe they’re just being thrifty.

    Folks that I know who worked at a City agency, abet in the last century, tell me the City does (or did) “overlook” code violations of its own from time to time. They also tell me it was made clear to that agency that if a complaint ever came in the City would have no choice but to act. If fact, the agency was cited by BFD one time for a fire code violation.

    So take action. Have someone file a complaint. Have someone call the placebo line. Then keep us informed of what happens or doesn’t happen.

  9. Boisecynic says: ” What’s to stop me from buying the house next to yours, tearing it down and building a strip joint, er, gentleman’s club?”

    Er, nothing, I hope. Just make sure you closest neighbors get free admission.

  10. John Q Public
    A code violation complaint has been made recently, we shall see what will happen. If code enforcment does not act then what is the next step? Obviously taking the city to court and letting a judge decide, but does anyone know how one would file such a case.

  11. John Q Publique
    Jul 20, 2009, 8:46 pm

    Good first move, BC.

    I’m not an attorney either but it seems Development Services will have to take some kind of action on the complaint now that it has been filed, then make a finding about it. All that should be public record, so you can ask for (and pay for) a copy of the finding and the rationale supporting it. I’m guessing the process is described somewhere (Development Services?) on the City’s web site.

    But you’re probably going to need an attorney at some point in this. If the finding goes your way, great. If it doesn’t, there is probably an administrative appeal process. If there isn’t an appeal process then it looks like District court is the next stop. In either case that’s where having an attorney comes in handy.

    I’d suggest checking to see if someone in your group is an attorney. Maybe they’ll handle the case pro bono or at least at a reduced rate. Or maybe you could contact the attorney for the Torch 2 on Vista. He or she probably knows how one would file such a case. Remember when the City went after them for Code violations? I seem to recall it was something about remodeling a gentleman’s club and getting too close (pun intended) to the adjoining neighborhood.

    According to the City’s web site Councilwoman Clegg and Councilwoman Jordan are the Council Liaisons to Development Services. You might try contacting them also about the situation. Jordan is up for re-election this year.

    Good luck! And keep us posted as events progress.

  12. Boise City is above the law. I would like to build a shop in my back yard but the city says I must pave a driveway to it. I cannot even have a gravel strip or drive accross my lawn to it.
    I was told it is the code. Dust abatement was the reason for paving. The improved paved driveway would also be considered an improvement and raise my taxes.
    Thanks Boise City Council. Who needs the Mafia?

  13. Are you talking about the parking lot behind Idaho River Sports? I lived in that neighborhood for four years and the city is catering to the ecotourists. The area has been a problem since Idaho River Sports went in, for some reason attracting the juvenile delinquents. As the old Neighborhood Watch Chairman for that neighborhood, I can say that the police do not do enough because that area is a part of the downtown area. When the police are busy at the bars downtown, they neglect that neighborhood. This is a perpetual problem.

  14. I’m sorry Mr. Candidate, but to opine that the problems at The Pond are the fault of Idaho River Sports is laughable. The ecotourist comment….did you have a flashback of a bad Costa Rica vacation? If this is the kind of tripe you will be offering up in the upcoming election, then I predict the incumbent is a lock.

    As far as the guest opinion piece, it depends if one lives in a world that is unequivocally black and white. I have found that black and white views of issues often contain shades of grey(or is it gray).

  15. Update: Sept 11, 2009

    I guess Eric T may never see this since this article is quite stale, however the issue has not gone away. Indeed, Parks and Rec, knowing that there is a problem has decided to put a band-aid on the festering wound that is Esther Simplot Park. They’ve moved the entrance to the illegal unpaved parking lot from the end of Pleasanton Street to Woodlawn Street a block to the north.

    So what is your point Eric T? There is no grey area. Municipal Code 11-10-04 clearly spells it out, no unpaved parking.

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