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Move back to Stage 3 shows up in decreased Downtown Boise activity

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COVID-19 Idaho

Since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting Idaho, we’ve kept our eye on the health of several key areas. That includes Downtown Boise.

Using parking data provided by the Capital City Development Corporation, we get an overall sense of activity in the core area. The agency owns or manages six garages in the most central parts of downtown.

The garages hummed with activity just before the pandemic started to impact the Boise area. The week before, more than 2/3rds of all available spaces had a vehicle in them during the peak time – generally noon on Wednesday.

But as we noted before, traffic levels quickly dropped off, plunging from a high of 67% full to a low point of just 8% by April 8th.

Then, traffic started to slowly, steadily climb. By June 17th, 30% of spaces saw a car, truck or motorcycle parked in them. While still well below the pre-pandemic timeframe, it showed a positive trend.

Usage slips again

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As June turned to July, coronavirus cases in Boise, and the state as a whole, started to climb. Leaders took several actions. First, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean instituted a mandatory mask ordinance. Then, the Central District Health Department expanded the mask requirement to the whole county, moved the area back to Stage 3 of the reopening plan, and shut down most bars.

The impact of those changes showed up in the parking data. The previous upward trend of folks returning to Downtown Boise by car reversed, and started to slide again. The high water mark of 30% usage dropped down to 22% – and remained relatively stable in the mid 20-percent range.

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.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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