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Boise considering tightening 72-hour street parking rules

Parking could get a little stricter in the City of Trees.

On Tuesday, Boise City Council heard an ordinance that would clamp down on how long cars and other vehicles can be parked on city streets without moving. The change would address a loophole in the law making it difficult to enforce the city’s current three-day limit on vehicles parked in spaces without parking meters or other signs remaining in the same spot.

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Three days? Move along

In Boise, cars can currently stay parked in a space for 72 hours before they must relocate. But, the ordinance does not say how far the car needs to move. The proposed change would require a driver to move their car or vehicle to another block for a period of time equal or longer than 72 hours.

It means moving a vehicle a few feet or across the street would no longer count. The ordinance will be enforced when complaints are filed from the public against vehicles and not enforced without cause, according to ordinance sponsor Council Member Patrick Bageant.

A memo to Boise City Council about the proposal said this is often exploited by residents who will move their vehicle only a few inches to avoid being asked to move or who will leave for a few minutes and promptly return to the same spot, preventing anyone else from using the parking space.

“This minimal movement ‘restarts the clock’ of the extended parking provision, giving the vehicle owner a new 72 hours parking period in that spot,” the memo said. “The repeated restarting of the 72 hour period results in vehicles and non-vehicular items (e.g., boats, trailers, moving containers, etc.) remaining virtually unmoved from the same on-street parking spaces indefinitely.”

The ordinance was passed on the first reading and will be read two more times before it can be approved. There was no comments from council members on the ordinance at this point in the process.

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Housing crisis fueling parking problems

As the housing market continues to tighten, more residents are living in their cars and recreational vehicles in and around the city. They often move around available side streets near social services in downtown Boise, near shopping centers and other neighborhood streets avoiding parking tickets while they experience homelessness.

Neighbors and business owners near where the vehicles are parking have reported disturbances like litter, trash and human waste left behind by their inhabitants. Homeless community members say they have no other options as rents continue to explode in Boise and vacancy rates for affordable units are below 1%.

Derek O’Neill, a developer working on a plan to redevelop the Shoreline Urban Renewal District near Interfaith Sanctuary, has recently been asking the City of Boise about improvements to the area before new projects can come in. One of the improvements he suggested to officials was stricter parking enforcement.

City spokesman Seth Ogilvie said the change was made in response to a range of complaints from residents, business owners and shoppers trying to find parking across the city. Some of the complaints are in response to businesses with delivery vehicles who leave to fill orders and quickly return to the same spot without a permit.

“This has nothing to do with Derick O’Neill,” Ogilvie said. “There have been numerous complaints from downtown Boise near where the old Statesman building used to be all the way to Vista Avenue.”

Boise Police Department and emergency shelter Interfaith Sanctuary started a partnership last summer to reach out to those living in the vehicles to try and get them into housing and connected to case management. But, the lack of housing units available, the pandemic making people wary of shelters and the difficulty of parting with their belongings makes it difficult to address the problem.

Interfaith Sanctuary Jodi Peterson-Stigers said in recent months she is working on locating an off-site parking area for residents to leave their vehicles full of personal effects somewhere safe while they stay at a shelter, but with the high price of real estate and rapid redevelopment she has not found a proper site yet.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev senior reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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