Parking ticket shakedown 

Before the tow, find out what you owe

Does anyone know Denise Nichols? How about Damon Elias? If you do, tell them to call the Boise City Parking enforcement, toot sweet. They were at the top of the city's list for overdue parking tickets. Nichols alone has $2,764 due on parking tickets, while Elias owes $1,534.

Though Nichols tops the list, she's not alone: hundreds of Boise residents and beyond owe the city some $250,000 in unpaid tickets, and the city is tired of just pestering you. But before they get rough, the city decided to offer something that's a dirty word to conservatives fretting about immigration: amnesty. But parking amnesty is less politically hazardous. Come in to the city parking offices and you'll pay only what the original tickets cost, not the added late fees.

Although the city started the program March 15, there have been few takers, according to Jef Faw, the city's chief financial officer in charge of the parking program. "It hasn't been quite the inducement we'd hoped," Faw said. Although it would still be a financial bite for some (one ticket-gatherer who owes $1,620 would get her fine reduced to $975) it's better than the alternative, Faw said. First, you could lose your license. But if the City Council gives them the go-ahead this week, the parking department will start towing overdue parkers. "It's time for us to move into the 21st century," Faw said. But he's thinking Cold War deterrence policy here: "When people realize that we're in a position to take their car away from them, hopefully we're not going to get into the business of too much towing." Tickets issued on or after January 1 of this year aren't included. To see if you qualify, stop by City Hall. (Maybe take a cab, just to be safe.)

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