A new Boise law would change the way you’re allowed to park your car on the street

Cars trucks park on 11th Street with blurred license plate downtown snip widescreen crop.jpg
Posted at 2:49 PM, Apr 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-04 16:49:08-04

This article was originally written by Hayley Harding for the Idaho Statesman.

A new ordinance would radically change the way Boise handles on-street parking.

The ordinance, which went before the City Council for a first reading on Tuesday, would require people parking on city streets to move their vehicles “a significant distance” every 72 hours for at least a full 24 hours.

That would be a notable change to the city’s current restrictions. At present, people parking in spaces that don’t have other regulations attached — parking meters or two-hour limits, for instance — are permitted to park in the same spot for 72 hours before moving.

And when that time is up? They don’t have to move far.

“These vehicles often move a mere few inches from the original parking site, or they move completely from the site for a few minutes but then return to the same location, preventing others from utilizing the parking space,” Jennifer Pitino, an attorney for the city, wrote in a memorandum to the mayor and council.

“This minimal movement ‘restarts the clock’ of the extended parking provision, giving the vehicle owner a new 72 hours in that spot.”

Under the new ordinance, those actions would not be allowed. Drivers would have to move a car to a new spot at least 600 feet away (nearly the length of two football fields) for 24 hours. If not, they could be ticketed.

The current setup makes it too tough for other people to find parking spaces, and it also means that “nonvehicular items” — Pitino listed boats, trailers and moving containers, for example — often end up “virtually unmoved from the same on-street parking spaces indefinitely.”

In Boise, as the population continues to grow, the parking problems are just getting worse, Pitino said. The city has many garages downtown, but the primary concern exists on residential streets, particularly those near popular businesses or shopping districts.

The new ordinance won’t automatically result in tickets, though. Council Member Patrick Bageant, who sponsored the ordinance, told the Statesman that it would be enforced based on complaints. If you’re the type of person who likes to leave your car at home in the summer in lieu of taking your bike, he said, that could be fine as long as neighbors aren’t complaining.

“This is not patrol-based,” he said. “If you go out of town for a week and leave your car in front of your apartment on the street, no patrol officer is going to ticket your car. But if your neighbors start complaining, that could run afoul of this.”

In bigger cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, similar laws are used to help keep abandoned vehicles off the street. Bageant noted that the ordinance is not meant to target people who might be forced to stay in a car for the night or take any socioeconomic factors into consideration.

The new ordinance will have to be read twice more before the City Council prior to becoming law.

No members of the council commented on the ordinance Tuesday.