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Council boss sours on out-of-staters

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | July 30, 2020 1:07 AM

Call growing to give preference to locals

HAYDEN — The end of Hayden’s City Council meeting took an unexpected turn Tuesday night when council president Roger Saterfiel vented frustration at a dilemma facing one of Hayden’s most popular local attractions.

“I’ve been going to the (Honeysuckle) boat launch every day for the last month,” he said. “Can we maybe float the idea of doing something about taking back our beach?”

Saterfiel’s ire comes in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that has driven Washingtonians and Montanans into the panhandle of a Gem State with looser restrictions than its neighbors. As some areas in Washington are still under stay-home orders and Montana is experiencing its own version of a ballooning coronavirus crisis — with 206 new cases in Montana reported Wednesday alone — many are traveling to Idaho for recreational relief.

“Every time I go there, at least half (of the parked cars), if not more, are out-of-state,” Saterfiel said.

Saterfiel’s depiction wasn’t too far off on Wednesday. At 3:30 p.m., just as the temperature in Hayden reached its high of 94 degrees, 54 of the 129 cars parked at the Honeysuckle Beach parking lot and a third of a mile west along Honeysuckle Avenue had out-of-state plates, 45 of them hailing from Washington.

“It seems like there’s a whole lot more people coming in from out of town and out of state,” said Shawn Barndollar, a five-year resident of Coeur d’Alene who was enjoying Honeysuckle Beach with five of his grandchildren. “Traffic over the last five years: I’ve seen a huge increase in traffic, not just down here but around town. This place is becoming a lot more congested. It’s growing extremely quick.”

To be clear, no motion was passed, suggested or voted on Tuesday. No plan has been officially formulated, and Hayden city administrator Brett Boyer said nothing tangible could come into effect before the end of summer. He said the matter would have to be researched, crafted into an ordinance, evaluated by the public and entered into the hearing process before any changes could be made, all of which would outlive September, at least.

But ideas from a parking fee schedule targeting out-of-state visitors to an outright prohibition were suggested before being dismissed as either out of reach this summer or out of the scope of the city’s capabilities.

That said, Boyer reported he would look at possible avenues for encouraging and prioritizing locals who want to park in the parking lot.

Germaine Carroll has lived in the area for a year and a half, though she originally hails from New Orleans. She spent part of her Wednesday defending a spare vacant parking space for her family boat trailer, standing in its center as she waited for the trailer to arrive.

“I definitely think people from Idaho should be able to enjoy these beautiful sites where they live,” she said with a smile. “I think it’s great other states love this area. I don’t blame them. We love it, as well. But I do think it would be nice to give people who actually live here an opportunity (to park). That’s why I’m standing here, blocking this spot. Last weekend, there were more Washington cars here than Idaho cars.”

While the Carroll family was able to find its parking solution Wednesday afternoon, don’t expect the Hayden City Council to find a solution to the matter any time soon.

“I know it hasn’t always been easy,” Saterfiel said, “but it’s been getting worse. It’s been getting this way for a while now.”

“When you say it’s getting to be that way,” Councilman Richard Panabaker said with a laugh, “it’s been getting to be a that way for a hundred years.”

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A third-of-a-mile string of cars stretched west along Honeysuckle Avenue Wednesday afternoon, including this SUV from Utah. Out-of-state visitors are enjoying Honeysuckle Beach, but the popular waterfront public access point is often congested over the summer, drawing concern from some of Hayden’s city officials. (CRAIG NORTHRUP/Press)

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Local Germaine Carroll cheerfully guards a valuable Honeysuckle Beach parking spot as she waits for her husband to bring back their trailer from the boat launch. Parking in the popular Hayden lot has long been a commodity for beachgoers and boaters. A comment from the Hayden city council Tuesday night has the city re-evaluating potential solutions to the logjam. (CRAIG NORTHRUP/Press)

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Saterfiel