As the city of Boise begins installing hundreds of so-called "smart" parking meters, city officials gave citizens their first opportunity the afternoon of June 6 to weigh in on a series of proposals tied to the smart meters, including the possibility of extended evening parking enforcement and enforcement on Saturdays.
“We tried to identify what our current challenges are and we boiled down a list,” said Craig Croner, the administrative services manager for the city of Boise. “One of the first things we talked about is, we have an outdated parking system.”
A sparse crowd of less than 20 people attended the public meeting, consisting primarily of downtown business owners, who expressed some concerns over the new meters and the proposed expanded enforcement.
Barbara Krogh, who co-owns and has operated Barbara and Barbara for nearly 30 years, championed the convenience of new meters that accept both credit cards and coins but said she was worried that motorists might head elsewhere to shop if paid parking times are extended to Saturdays.
“I do not like the idea of doing it on Saturdays," Krogh told Boise Weekly. "Saturday is the day a lot of people test out downtown Boise. They know they don’t have to pay for the meters, and the minute that changes, I think we are going to see a lot less business.
Dan Balluff, who owns the City Peanut Shop on Bannock Street, said the city parking meters need an update, but enforcement hours should remain as they are to encourage foot traffic downtown during nights and weekends.
“I think it will be a real detriment to business downtown to have extended hours in the evening and on Saturdays to pay for parking,” he said.
Balluff said extensions of parking enforcement might cause resentment among downtown business owners already struggling to "get their feet in the door," and while the city argues better meters and longer enforcement hours will free up parking in congested areas, he doesn’t see parking availability as a serious issue.
“The downtown business community is pretty busy trying to stay in business,” said Balluff. “My experience is that there are certain areas where it is really tough to find a space, certain areas like Sixth and Main or BODO, but the rest of downtown seems to flow pretty well.”