Downtown Boise visitors will likely have to start feeding parking meters on Saturdays and until 8 p.m. on weeknights starting Feb. 1.
Mayor David Bieter split a tied City Council vote Dec. 12 on parking meter rate and penalty increases. The most contentious item was imposing Saturday parking meter charges for the first time in Boise. Final council approval is expected Dec. 19.
The council gave preliminary approval to requiring parking meter usage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The 10 a.m. start time was set up to give market vendors time to unload without paying for street parking and also allow late-night bar visitors who left their cars overnight to retrieve them, said Council President Elaine Clegg.
The Saturday parking meter rate will be only 50 cents per hour with a two-hour parking limit. Parking meters will remain free on Saturdays in what the city describes as Zone 3 – east of Fifth Street, west of 11th Street and beyond Jefferson and River streets.
The new parking meters rates also extend the Monday to Friday meter hours from 6 to 8 p.m.
City staff and merchants noted that on Saturdays and weeknight dinner hours downtown street parking is difficult to find because many people park early and for extended periods. Having people pay during those times is designed to create “churn” – having cars arrive and leave metered spots frequently.
Half the City Council wanted to experiment for six months with a two-hour limit at metered spots on Saturday but no meter charges, but the mayor sided with added Saturday meter charges.
The free first 20 minutes at parking meters will remain, but unpaid parking tickets will get dinged with a $15 late fee every six months until they are paid. Expired meter tickets also will increase from $15 to $20 and a ticket for staying beyond two hours will increase from $18 to $25.
Parking meter rates will also increase Feb. 1 with three different rates in separate sections of downtown.
The three zones are:
Premium Zone 1: Increase from $1.50 to $2 for the first hour, and from $2.50 to $3 for the second hour in the downtown core generally from Sixth to 10th and from Bannock to Myrtle streets.
Standard Zone 2: Increase from $1 to 1.25 for the first hour, and from $1.25 to $2 for the second hour in the one-block area beyond Zone 1 bounded by Fifth, 11th, Jefferson and River streets.
Value Zone 3: Prices remain the same (50 cents for the first and second hours, $1 for the third and fourth hours), Saturdays remain free and meter charges will continue to end at 6 p.m.
The new marking measures also offer two street parking options for downtown employees.
Workers can enter an e-permit lottery for one of about 84 parking spaces around the old U.S. Assay Office, an area bounded by Main, Idaho, Third and Fourth Streets. The monthly parking fee will be $25, said Craig Croner, the city’s administrative services manager.
The city will also let service industry workers, such as restaurant employees, park anywhere in Zone 3 after 3 p.m. for $15 a month, Croner said.