Cars cruising through Downtown Boise are a problem, and as a community we must curb it. Historically, cruising was part of a culture that brought people downtown to engage in harmless behavior. Some may recall that over 25 years ago, the city had to address congestion and illicit behavior, once it became aggressive and problematic.
The Boise Police Department concluded that allowing the cruise to continue unabated was unsafe. Curfews were enforced and traffic was diverted, implementing a zero-tolerance policy. Since that time, a different brand of street entertainment has taken its place, now centered around Idaho and Main Streets, between 12th and 15th.
On any given weekend, one can easily spot open containers of alcohol, littering, engine-revving, speeding, racing, tailgating and yelling, which in many cases would be considered harassment. Getting to one’s car and onto the street is a matter of calculated skill and agility, in order to navigate the drag race that spontaneously erupts. Congregating on a public sidewalk is not against the law, but when coupled with racial, sexist and other offensive slurs, it becomes an intimidating and hostile presence, intended or not. This behavior is indefensible for those of us who work, live, recreate and pay property taxes in the downtown corridor.
New open-carry gun laws add another layer of aggression. One recent encounter with a group at 14th and Main established that some will boast about the legality of carrying firearms, regardless of how it affects others. This behavior makes it difficult to explain to visitors and guests why Downtown Boise is considered a friendly, progressive and culturally innovative destination, and by extension, why Boise is considered one of the most livable cities in the nation. Visitors’ perceptions of our community are being affected by these individuals.
For local businesses and residents, there is a collective frustration, and of greater concern, a sense of giving up, because how is it possible to restrain those who are intent on being entitled and elusive? How is it possible to hold accountable random people who litter empty beer cans and hundreds of cigarette butts, destroy property, and cause noise and obstruction complaints that local businesses deal with?
The situation at hand is untenable. A proactive, collective approach between the city and ACHD is what is needed to address the unsafe, illegal, unwelcoming and unhealthy behavior that is at large in our city right now.
Ceci Thunes has worked, played and lived in Boise since 1992. She is employed at a downtown business and has a degree in economics and political science from Boise State University.