According to Forbes, Boise is the 15th fastest-growing city in the nation and has seen a population increase of 3.6% within the last year. The continued growth of the city has increased the demand for both road capacity and parking availability.
Due to this high demand, seven different parking garages have been developed adding over 3,395 spots available. Commuters have the ability to purchase parking on an hourly, daily, or monthly rate with prices varying depending on the garage location.
Downtown Boise is one of the most concentrated areas in terms of population. Nearly 4,000 people reside in downtown and more than 40,000 people are employed in the area, according to Lynn Hightower, executive director of the Downtown Boise Association.
Many people, including students at Boise State, have obtained employment downtown and have found it challenging to justify the costs of parking in comparison to their earnings.
Allison Montgomery, a sophomore criminal justice and psychology double major, shared her experience working at the downtown Regal Edwards movie theater.
“The theater validates our parking ticket from the garages and covers up to three hours of parking,” Montgomery said. “So after about two and a half hours, we have to re-park our car to get a new ticket so we don’t surpass the three-hour mark.Otherwise, the theater won’t cover it.”
Montgomery explained that the theater offers up to three hours of parking to avoid discouraging customers from going to the theater solely because of parking costs.
“We also have to coordinate ahead of time what time we plan to move our car during the shift because we wouldn’t be able leave during a rush-hour in the theater,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery says she has recently considered alternate modes of transportation due to limited parking. “I live on campus so I could probably walk to work, but I work the late shift and sometimes get out at 1 a.m. if it’s busy, and I wouldn’t feel safe walking home alone,” Montgomery said.
The least expensive option for a monthly parking pass in a garage downtown is $100 per month. This would equate to nearly 14 hours of work for a person making the current minimum wage in the State of Idaho.
Casey Pfost, a sophomore elementary education major voiced similar concerns about working downtown.
“I worked at Snake River Tea for about two weeks before quitting because I couldn’t pay for parking,” Pfost said. “I called the city to see what parking options were available and I was told about the monthly ePermit and parking in Zone 3 was the cheapest option at $15 a month.”
Like Montgomery, Pfost had concerns about walking to their car after a late shift.
“[Zone 3] was a far walk from my job,” Pfost said. “I would have done it, but since I work late, I didn’t want to have a far walk to my car at night in the dark.”
The parking garages collectively known as ParkBOI are owned by the Capital City Development Corps (CCDC). CCDC works with the City of Boise to continuously assess parking concerns downtown in order to develop cost-effective solutions for our ever growing population.
For the past two years, Tyler Johnson has been the Code Compliance and Community Resources manager for the City of Boise, but has been involved with parking in the city for nearly seven years.
“We are focused more on trying to provide transportation for people,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to provide more mobility and parking alternatives in order to get people to where they need to go because just providing more parking just increases traffic and demand.”
According to Johnson, because of the various means of transportation available, people are encouraged to avoid driving if possible to lower the demand.
“We have free shuttle services available in which people can park on Elder Street and get to downtown,” Johnson said. “It also makes stops at other locations like Boise State and St. Luke’s.”
Johnson stated that nearly 76,000 parking citations have been issued just this year, which is an average of about 200 citations per day. At a minimum of $20 per citation, this has cost the public a minimum $1.5 million in parking fines alone.
As of today, the number of alternative options available to the community including Park & Ride, ACHD Commuteride, Valley Regional Transit, bicycle parking, Boise Greenbike, e-scooters and Carpooling Connections.