BOISE, Idaho — This article is written by Don Day with BoiseDev.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Idaho, we’ve tracked a key metric that helps illustrate activity in the Downtown Boise area: parking garage usage.
The Capital City Development Corp. owns or operates a series of six parking garages Downtown, with space for nearly 3,200 cars. While it’s just one piece of the downtown commuting puzzle (including on-street spaces, private lots/garages, and folks who walk, bike, or take the bust downtown), it provides a solid piece of data to look at.
CCDC provides us with data for the noon hour on one day in the middle of the week. By comparing it across weeks – and now months, you get a picture of the general vibrancy of the area.
Parking levels drop
Simply put, far fewer people hop in the car and park downtown than before the pandemic.
On Tuesday, March 10th, just before COVID-19 started impacting the state, nearly two-thirds of all available spots had a vehicle in them.
That quickly declined, and bottomed out on April 8th, with just 8% of spaces in use during the mid-day timeframe.
As the multi-phase statewide reopening plan started to go into effect in May, parking usage started to climb back up. But now, eight weeks after things started to open back up, the garages remain far below that pre-pandemic use level. On June 17th, cars sat in 950 of the 3,179 available spots.
This week, on Wednesday, June 24th, the number declined from the previous week for the first time since the reopening plan started to take hold – with just 858 cars in the garages. An order from the Central District Health Department moved Ada County back to stage 3, which added new restrictions, forced the closure of bars — and moreover emphasized that the impact of the pandemic continues in our area.
The urban renewal agency decided not to increase monthly parking rates that it planned to roll out this spring. It also decided not to charge monthly parking users in April and May for spaces it controls, though fees went back into effect in June.