The City of Boise is considering some changes to its downtown parking.
"Downtown Boise is in demand," said Lynn Hightower, Executive Director of the Boise Downtown Association. "People want to be here."
That demand may cause folks to see some parking changes as early as February 2018.
A three-part plan is up for consideration. First -- increasing enforcement hours to include 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"Really, we're hoping that this would be incentive to get more people into downtown, enjoying things," said Lana Graybeal, City of Boise Community Engagement Spokeswoman. "You know, when you're coming in for Saturday market and you're circling and there's just congestion, that's not a good experience for anybody."
Metered parking rates would also increase under the proposal. Parking rates in Zone 1 would be $2 for the first hour and $3 for the second hour; and rates in Zone 2 would increase to $1.25 for the first hour and $2 for the second hour.
Rates in Zone 3 would stay the same -- $.50 for the first two hours and $1 for the third and fourth hour.
On any given day, city leaders say the parking capacity downtown hovers near 90-97%, while the industry standard is about 20 percentage points below that.
"You want to be at about 70% to get the vibrancy going in downtown and keep people moving, ad the businesses getting the foot traffic that they're looking for," Graybeal said.
Advocates say the goal is to increase the availability of on-street parking for short-term visits, and to encourage the use of garages and perimeter parking for longer stays.
"It's really meant to help people find a parking place, and to help the retailers and businesses downtown with their customers so that they can find a parking place and come on in and do business with them," Hightower said.
The third component -- increasing parking fines.
An expired meter violation would cost $20 -- up from its current rate of $15. A time zone violation would jump to $25, and an accessibility violation would cost $150.
The city says it currently has about 50,000 unpaid parking fines, amounting to just over $1 million.
City leaders say the generated revenue will be used to fund transportation initiatives around the city, including improving alternative options such as shuttles and park-and-ride programs.
Boise City Council is expected to make a decision in December. If approved, the new rates will go into effect February 1, 2018.
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