Boise Ponders 50% Parking Fee Hike

In a move that is sure to win the praises of bicyclists, but not downtown businesses, Boise officials are continuing their policy of “getting people out of their cars.” This time it’s a parking meter fee hike.
An expired parking meter. expired, parking meter, pay parking, coin operated, park, transportation, meter, control
The DAILY PAPER parrots Boise City’s term of “demand-based metered parking” which is another way of saying downtown metered parking rates will likely go up by 50%. Some outlying metered spots may decrease.

According to the latest Parking Czar, the city makes two-thirds of its parking revenue off of tickets. The latest plan is to make more off the meters–of course without reducing parking fines. First it was the “hockey pucks” that erase time paid on meters whenever a car leaves a stall, now they plan to put the additional cash into transportation programs including shuttles and bike facilities at the expense of motorists.

Imagine the outcry if they suddenly licensed bikes and put the revenues into making it easier for cars to visit downtown!

Nationwide, planners are working to reduce auto travel–often by reducing road capacity for cars in favor of bicycles. Part of the bigger picture is TAP which is Boise’s dream for more bikes and fewer cars in the city. As more and more businesses–and shoppers–head for the center of the universe at Fairview and Eagle Road that dream may come true.

If there is anyplace that so-called green bikes, shuttles, frequent bus routes, and even a trolley would work well it is within a mile or two of Eagle and Fairview.

Boise leaders have their own idea of “what people need” which is often contrary to the Ada County Highway District’s policy of, “What do people want.” Boise Mayor Dave Bieter recently went so far as asking ACHD in a MayorBieterACHD Letter re Survey 10-28-15 to curtail a survey of citizens because they felt results would conflict with the city’s plans for use of streets (carefully referred to as everything but “streets”).

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Idaho and the US have a storied history of charging one group to benefit another group. Heck we are looking at using a tobacco tax to pay for univ. tuition. As a bicycle commuter, I pay my fair share of Northend property taxes to subsidize lots of peoples drives to work in Downtown Boise or Meridian. Not sure that you can change that or if it matters.

    Not sure that I have seen a parking study come out about who is using these high demand spots. I know other cities have found out there are some abuses that can be solved.

  2. the idea of a shuttle or monorail going from one end of Eagle Rd to the far north end of Eagle Rd does sound good.

    Great post Guardian!

  3. Eagle Writer
    Jan 19, 2016, 2:39 pm

    Boise is such a nice town but it gives us less and less a reason to go there. BoDo had promise and could have been what the Village at Meridian is. But of course the Village out-imagined, out-developed, and out-free-parked Bodo.

    So raise Boise’s parking costs, restrict traffic, bring in refugees, and continue to make it into what Idaho is not and then celebrate governing a declining city. It’s right there for the losing.

  4. Wow! TAP! How catchy! How “Portland”! – I bet it will appeal in particular to the aficionados of our fashionable brew-pubs! Any idea how much our City Fathers paid for yet another visionary plan-for-the-future? (In color!)

    Clancy is right about car-transportation being subsidized in many invisible ways. Consider the huge free parking lots out on Eagle Road, or at the Meridian Village. Guess what? They’re not really free… the cost of providing them is factored into the price you pay for the goods and services you receive. (Whether you arrive by single-occupant car, bike, bus, or Conestoga wagon.) However, deliberately manipulating the balance can be a dangerous game.

    Is downtown Boise courting primarily the business of the hipster-millennial single-speed crowd? At the expense of car-driving citizens (who also vote, by the way)?

    As a long-time observer (and 30-year veteran transportation cyclist – in Boise), I can appreciate the bike-friendly amenities. When a dedicated bike lane is available, there is a small group of citizens who will venture out on a bike, on that bike lane, who would’ve taken a car otherwise. And that is a good thing. But at what cost to everybody else? I know folks who steer clear of downtown, because it’s just too stressful. (That IS an alternative to hoppin’ on the single-speed, and Team Dave needs to be aware of that.)

    I applaud ACHD for their obvious efforts to make the road surface “bike friendly.” And I appreciate Team Dave’s vision of making Boise even MORE bike-friendly. (We already got the Silver award. Why not go for Platinum?!) But at some point, you have to face the Law of Diminishing Returns.

    (I also appreciate the VAST majority of Boise/Ada drivers who are willing to drive in a way so that I’m not in danger when bicycling. There are a few exceptions – mostly in super-size F350s and such, or staring at their “smart phones” – but most of us get along just fine, thank you VERY much!)

    FINALLY – Easterner brings up the Monorail. Dang it! Now that will be a topic at the next (Boise) City Council meeting! No trolley? Why not a monorail?!!

  5. They really need a computer system downtown that raises meter fees enough that there are always 25% of the parking spaces available. It would be nice to just be able to find street parking without having to circle the block 10 times.

    The personal automobile is heading for the junkyard of bad ideas sooner than most folks think. The price of oil, where an energy company can turn a profit, is currently over $75 per barrel, but demand has drooped off a cliff due to the Depression we are in. (Formally known as Obamas New, Strong Economy) Oil companies are in trouble, but thanks to welfare for corporations, they were just given “too big to fail” status. I see gas rationing and much higher prices not too far down the road. Keep those bicycles handy.

  6. Meridian is calling
    Jan 19, 2016, 9:08 pm

    Idiots! I refuse to go downtown. Forced to do it once a year, but ride with someone else.

  7. Kent Goldthorpe
    Jan 20, 2016, 7:55 am

    Pinch me! Did I just read someone staying that ACHD actually listens to the people? Why, yes I did. Thanks for noticing. You must have attended some hearings this past year. Your positive comment is very much appreciated. Whoever the author of this article is, I’d like to buy you lunch and chat.

    Bikeboy, you stated things pretty much exactly the way things are, again much appreciated.

  8. Bieter Begone
    Jan 20, 2016, 7:55 am

    After Main and Idaho and Capitol are cluttered with bike lanes and parking lanes and a trolley lane and a bus lane and there is no room for cars, think what a regressive paradise it will be!!

    Of course, no cars means no parking revenue and no customers leading to no restaurants or stores or businesses, but hey – regressive progress!!!!

  9. Downtown (mostly talking retail) is dependent upon people commuting to downtown. There was a committee put together that reviewed a report on vibrant downtowns, and one of the key factors was the ratio between the number of workers downtown and the number of housing units downtown. Boise had a dramatic shortage of downtown housing units per this ratio, creating both a housing shortage and the need for the downtown to import customers.

    For the time being I think the parking and transportation strategy for downtown should focus on welcoming people to the downtown, by whatever mode they choose. I am concerned higher parking rates and more parking meters on currently free street parking will further hamper the success of downtown.

    As an aside, the consultant’s report for downtown cited too many government agencies, too many fees, high parking costs and lack of available parking as barriers to new housing downtown. In my own discussions with developers many cite the high impact and development costs as the reason they avoid housing projects, to recoup all these fees and added costs they have to focus on the more profitable office and retail developments.

    The report itself, despite calling for more downtown housing projects, cited in Exhibit 33 that a mixed use retail/residential development with parking does not generate a positive return.

    Link to report:

  10. Yossarian_22
    Jan 20, 2016, 9:56 am

    I am also a bike commuter and appreciate bike facilities when available. As far as parking policies go, the downtown business owners will always have a strong say about how it will go. If this tiered pricing scheme yields too many complaints from whatever customers still can afford those downtown shopping price tags and lattes, then that will get right back to Team Dave and they will scrap it.

  11. Some folks mistakenly believe that cars = retail business. In Guadalajara Mexico, I visited a huge shopping district that allowed no cars. The whole area was a pedestrian and bicycle paradise, with fountains, trees, flowers and park benches where we have asphalt, noise, and danger from cars racing about in every direction. There were huge crowds of people enjoying the area, and the stores and restaurants were packed. Removing cars from public spaces can make them destinations for exploring and hanging out, not just supremely convenient for hit-and-run shoppers.

  12. Foothills Rider
    Jan 20, 2016, 10:13 am

    Such irony apparent regarding supposed benefits of The Village, even as many writing are the ones that eschew all things California in other comments. The Village is a slice of any outdoor So Cal mall – a piece of Fashion Island (Newport Beach), a bit of South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa), with the national stores and restaurant (chains) associated. It’s packaged in another faux-Tuscan forced architecture that will date itself over time.

    As far as the entitlement mentioned in regards to doorstep parking in BoDo: am I missing something in the benefits of the very reasonably-priced and convenient parking structures that lead you anywhere you need downtown, without having to mark the meter timer?

  13. Good and interesting comments – I almost always enjoy the Guardian posts, AND the comments they elicit. (Some astute readership here. Thanks!)

    We visited Boston a number of years ago, and my perspective was totally shaken! We parked for 4 or 5 hours in a huge public parking garage building while we visited the Aquarium… 32 bucks! (Of course the Aquarium was $250 or so for the group, and an “appetizer” type treat at a nearby restaurant was just under $100 for the six of us.) We loved the visit, but pulling out the wallet was always painful.

    I s’pose the reality is, if li’l ol’ Boise is trying to be a big, cosmopolitan city like Portland or San Francisco or Boston, it’ll cost some Dough-re-mi.

  14. The concepts of supply/demand/pricing apply to parking just as they do to other goods and services. Higher prices will make it easier to park downtown, not harder. Since the street parking is the most valuable (convenient/best) parking, it can naturally support higher pricing. If it’s hard to find a spot downtown, it’s because the price has been too low all along.

    Requiring businesses to provide off-street parking, as is done in areas of Boise not close to downtown, is a great example of one of the many hidden subsidies to car driving. Zoning law forces business owners and housing developers to spend money they might otherwise not on a car-only use. This requirement has distorted our view of parking so much that it’s ingrained that parking should be universally ‘free’, even though it’s definitely not, in real terms.

    Take a look on google maps satellite view if you don’t believe just how massive the consequences of zoning laws have had on the built landscape. Giant parking lots are EVERYWHERE, and have a tremendous costs not immediately borne by drivers. It’s not free to build or maintain these, and deal with the secondary effects, like stormwater mitigation and the resulting distance between places.

    Guardian, you seem to infer that policies aimed at ‘getting us out of our cars’ border on social engineering, or reducing our choices. If social engineering is a sum of policies aimed at encouraging a particular type of behaviour, then it’s extremely obvious that the most prevalent ‘social engineering’ going on in Boise/Idaho/USA is aimed at encouraging us all into using cars for everything.

    EDITOR NOTE–You read me correctly! While not passing judgement on pro bike, pro car, or vice versa, I am concerned that Boise politicos are trying to force their own agenda. I recently talked to a European PhD candidate about bikes. I explained that regardless of our love or hate for cars, our CULTURE in Idaho is not urban. We drive to COSTCO and come out with a gallon of peanut butter, 4 loaves of bread, 20 lbs of meat, etc. In Europe they get a small baguette and two pork chops at the corner market and perhaps a bottle of wine. One is for cars the other easy for a bike or walk. The point is we are NOT Europe. Same for living. Few people come to Boise with the idea of living in an Aspen Loft for $400,000 so they can look into a condo atop the Grove hotel. People come here to fish, hunt, ski, raft, bike, visit McCall and Cascade and experience the wide open spaces. Downtown condos and non-stop air to Atlanta is better found in Chicago, Miami, or Washington.

  15. P. Hautzinger
    Jan 20, 2016, 1:04 pm

    Some of us would get out of our cars on onto to the sidewalks if it were not for the hazard of whizzing bikes on the sideWALKS.

    Please, get the bikers off the walkways. They are frightening when they shout, “on your left” and there they are forcing a walker off the cement.

  16. J Smith .. that was proposed for Boise back in the day when we were all stressing about what to do for a mall. An open downtown was one concept (Oppenheimer I think). The other was a big enclosed mall downtown.

  17. Guardian, maybe we could be a little more like Europe. A bottle of wine on the way home…. c’mon, what is not to like about that?

    While I agree with your NOTE, “Idaho is not urban”… Boise is becomeing more and more urban-like. It’s all about the current trends.
    Globalization. Urbanization. Opa!

  18. is this really any surprise?

  19. Mitchell Jaurena
    Jan 26, 2016, 4:36 pm

    Huge parking rate hikes. Pandering to the social engineers under the guise of “ACHD listening to the public”. High pitched squalling from bike riders asked to pay their fair-share. Imagine that. Who could have predicted that?

  20. Unite and overcome the greedy scum.

  21. Editor: While also not passing judgement on pro bike, pro car, I would agree with you that the Boise city politicos are trying to force their own agenda – the same politicos mostly re-elected just a few months ago. Is their own ‘agenda’ that different from what the people want? It would very much seem that way. It’s a distinction with no difference.

    As for the cultural differences, I don’t think they’re as big as they’re made out to be. You’re right, not many people want to spend $400,000 on the Aspen lofts, but a lot of people will pay top dollar to live close to downtown – just take a look at the house you could get in Nampa for the price of a 2br in the Boise northend or eastend. Demand is driving that price, and I believe a very large part of that demand is that you can actually do things without getting in your car when you’re that close to downtown.

    Mitchell Jaurena, the public has noticed that the only ‘social engineering’ going on is the kind that is supporting and heavily subsidizing car-only transportation. ‘Alternate’ transportation (or as I like to call it, ‘transportation’) is only occasionally getting a bone thrown at it. Luckily, citizens and public officials are starting to realize this lopsidedness is a poor investment, and leads to a lot of undesirable outcomes.

    EDITOR NOTE–Perhaps with a bit of envy, we concede that it is nice to live in the north end and be able to walk or bike to the nearby downtown…actually quite european. All that takes on an air of hypocrisy when the city fathers and mothers keep expanding their reach with vast urban sprawl into the SW and E deserts. Water, sewer, roads, schools are needed to facilitate all the growth while downtown gets all the sweetheart urban renewal deals and is difficult to navigate by auto.

  22. It’s intentional. Somewhere on the net is an internal City of Portland (OR) document which someone pot-smoking employee posted to the net by mistake. (No, I can’t find it now) The document made it very clear how the larger metro areas are intentionally providing under capacity roads so as to force people onto public transit or just not travel at all.

    We are about ten years into this kind of stupidity here in Boise. We need to clean house of the top planners and get a new group which does not worship Al Gore. Makes perfect sense considering the Boise City idiots and ACHD just screwed up the traffic flow in downtown by reducing lanes available and are steadily jacking up parking.

    I encourage any and all profitable Boise businesses to move to Meridian if your business success is not dependent on location. These people will not stop until your business is dead.

  23. Speaking of traffic lanes downtown, and ignoring for now those closed for construction at Grove Plaza (that will be a nightmare when all employees and customers descend upon new buildings), why does the lane on east side of Grove Hotel, northbound, always have people parked at curb, with red cones protecting them?

    Why these special privileges? Who enforces: BPD, ACHD, CCDC (lord of all)?

    EDITOR NOTE–Last time we checked the hotel got a permanent (perhaps annual) permit from ACHD to block the street. Just wait till the buses start running the wrong way on Capital in that lane from Main!! We have the same concerns on 9th where trucks for just about any event block the street. Currently 9th seems blocked (choked) between Front and River with construction closures. We are told it will only be getting worse.

  24. Robin Hood – Civic Planners discovered long ago what happens when they keep adding capacity to roads as needed. The city eventually ends up with 12 lanes of traffic going in both directions, all reduced to a crawl, in a permanent stop and go traffic jam.
    The easier it is for people to drive more, the more they will drive. It is a negative feedback loop that always ends up creating traffic hell, and choking smog problems.

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