Eighth Street, Boise

Advocates for so-called open streets say the strategy could help reduce risk as businesses reopen. So far, local officials have been warm to the approach.

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The City of Boise has come out and said it: Businesses should be able to expand their footprints into the right-of-way to help them accommodate social distance. 

At its regularly scheduled meeting on May 19, the Boise City Council approved Resolution 202-20, which supports businesses adopting an "open streets" model by extending their operations onto sidewalks and, potentially, into the roadways themselves.

The resolution also encourages other stakeholders—the Ada County Highway District, Idaho Transportation Department and Alcohol Beverage Control are mentioned by name—to pave the way for businesses to do so, provided that businesses and agencies comply with laws pertaining to "the connectivity and mobility of our public streets for the general public."

Though 202-20 will not have an immediate effect on businesses, it will start wheels turning at Boise City Hall, and likely at other public agencies across the Treasure Valley, as well. City staff have been called on to identify sites where the open streets model might apply, and review business standards the city could temporarily waive in order to make adopting the measure possible.

In this week's edition of Boise Weekly, we look behind the scenes of the movement to open Boise's streets as a way to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 as businesses again swing open their doors to the public. Proponents told BW that the 

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