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Friday, August 01, 2014
ACHD sued by Boise City, agrees to allow parking sensors to remain in place for now

Less than a day after Boise City said it wanted to avoid a lawsuit, the city sued the Ada County Highway District on Friday to try to legalize the parking sensors it installed without permission.

Fourth District Judge Deborah A. Bail rejected the city’s request for a restraining order against ACHD removing the sensors; after the ruling, the District said it would let the devices stay in downtown streets for the immediate future.

ACHD President John Franden said it was unfortunate the city had chosen the path of confrontation instead of cooperation.

"It never should have come to this," Franden said. "The city received a generous offer to place the parking sensors in the streets downtown and for whatever reason does not want to play by the rules. We still hope this can be resolved amicably."

ACHD and the city have been unable to come to terms on an agreement despite numerous meetings and a proposed agreement from the District.

The proposal would govern the placement of the devices, as well as how they will be installed and maintained in the future. The same agreement covers other items of mutual interest downtown, such as sidewalk cafes and valet parking.

Regulating what happens in the streets ensures the safety and convenience of the public, Wong said.
In mid-2013, the city asked for permission to install 200 sensors, including the 68 that were installed before an ACHD inspector discovered the installation work and shut it down. On Thursday, the City asked for permission to install another 611 sensors across downtown Boise.

Background:
For the past 11 months, the city has refused to enter an agreement to regulate the placement of the sensors, saying ACHD does not have full control over the streets in downtown Boise. While state law reserves the regulation of parking meters to the city, Idaho Code specifically invests "exclusive general supervision and jurisdiction" over county roads to ACHD, which means the city must receive ACHD’s permission for the sensors.

ACHD’s control over local roads in Ada County has been upheld on numerous occasions by the courts and in late December in a legal opinion from the Office of Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

"Should a city want to place a parking meter device into the traveled way, a court would likely find that the city needs a permit from ACHD to do so," wrote Chris Kronberg, a deputy attorney general, in response to a request from state Rep. Mike Moyle, who asked about the legality of Boise’s actions.

In June, ACHD proposed to allow the city to:

•    Install the additional 132 sensors it had purchased
•    Approve the sensor installation for a period of five years, with automatic, one-year renewals of the agreement starting in year six, unless cancelled by the city or ACHD
•    Ask to install additional sensors within a year

The sensors – small, hockey puck-sized devices – detect the metal of a vehicle parked in a stall and communicate wirelessly with a meter regulating that location. When a motorist drives away, the meter can be configured to erase any remaining time.

The city says putting meters with sensors into downtown will create a better parking environment for users, but critics told ACHD Commissioners last year that the technology is an attempt to increase revenue and urged that permission be denied.

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