Ada County Highway District officials say the 67 wireless vehicle detection sensors, each about the size of a hockey puck, that the city of Boise embedded in the pavement of Downtown parking meter spaces can stay through May, provided the city agrees to certain terms. If not, the city faces an encroachment fee of $150 per day per sensor.
Representatives of the city say it does not need ACHD's permission for the sensors, insists they will not damage the roadway and calls ACHD's threat of a $10,050 per day encroachment fee "excessive."
Both parties are past a deadline set by ACHD, which on Sept. 4 gave the city 30 days to remove the sensors.
"We think the law is very clear," said Jade Riley, chief of staff for Boise Mayor David Bieter. "State code does not require a license agreement."
The dispute began in June when an ACHD inspector stopped work on the sensors after the city installed 67 of them without ACHD's permission. The ACHD Commission voted in August not to grant the city a license agreement for the work because sensor technology exists that does not risk damaging the roadway. Boise officials asked if those installed sensors could remain because the city is using their data to study parking patterns. The city wants to use the data to establish a new parking meter policy regarding enforcement hours, pricing and Saturday parking.
A monthlong exchange of letters between the two entities concluded last week with ACHD offering to let the sensors stay in place through May 2014 with three provisions the city not install additional sensors, the city indemnify ACHD against any roadway damage caused by the sensors, and the city "dispense with threats to sue ACHD."
With that offer, ACHD included a big stick.
If Boise does not agree, ACHD says it has "reluctantly" issued a notice of encroachment for the sensors under which ACHD "may remove the encroachments" and "may assess a fee of $150 per encroachment per day." Under state law for encroachments on any highway or public right-of-way (Idaho Code 40-2319), a county or highway district may "recover up to one hundred fifty dollars ($150) for every day the encroachment remained after notice, as well as costs of the legal action and removal."
ACHD spokeswoman Christine Myron said, "Upon execution of a license agreement that incorporates the commission's latest offer, the notice will be withdrawn and the encroachment assessments will be waived."
Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan stated in an Oct. 10 letter to ACHD that the city was "disappointed" with ACHD's encroachment notice. She asked the highway district to "rescind and withdraw the notice of encroachments, and join the city in further dialogue to resolve this issue."
Riley said Tuesday the city wants to stop the back-and-forth letters and work it out face-to-face.
"There is a way to do this professionally and take the higher road and that is what we are trying to do," Riley said. "The council is committed to sitting down with ACHD and talking through these issues."
The next move is ACHD's.
"ACHD is currently assessing the city's (Oct. 10) letter, and at this time, there's no clear indication of what the commission will do going forward," Myron said Tuesday.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell