Is the city of Boise poised to become a “15 Minute City?” A string of evidence gives those that are paying attention to their local government pause to connect the dots.
Are there changes being made to our beautiful Boise? In the fall of 2022, there was public testimony on redistricting the City of Boise to help with equal representation on the City Council. This was a solution to a problem where many City Council members lived in Boise’s North End. This was a great idea since much of West Boise didn’t feel the love from the city, unlike the North End, East End, and Central Bench. Now a city council candidate must live within one of the six newly drawn districts. The challenging effort to equally divide a community isn’t always easy and you can’t please everyone. There was a large group of West Boise residents that objected to map 11’s districting lines. It still passed by unanimous vote. While disappointing, it still gave Boise equal representation throughout greater Boise. West Boise’s needs would be met with more accuracy and promptness.
There has been a great push for carbon free transportation. E-bikes, bicycles, public transportation and walking is highly encouraged. Many bike-lane corridors have been popping up throughout the greater Boise area. The idea is to give citizens easier access to Boise Downtown. The green belt is no longer the one size fits all bike-friendly pathway around Boise. Although parking has become more difficult, the green approach to transportation is a great personal sacrifice to help the environment, right?
Boise has enjoyed 60 years of successful zoning codes. When the current Boise Mayor got into office, she showed interest in modernizing Boise’s zoning codes. As of late, there have been many visible Don’t Upzone Boise signs popping up all around Boise. What is Upzoning? This has been tried in Seattle, WA and Austin, TX. What it does is rewrite city code. This allows a developer or investor to buy a single-family home in a nice quiet neighborhood, knock it down and erect a 3-unit triplex or a 12-unit apartment. Street parking appears to be encouraged which will cause congestion, one-lane roads in some areas and will be an overall eye sore. Live-work communities will still encourage community input. However, this gives businesses permission to potentially open up a shop on every corner. One out of 4 units are required to be “affordable.” How does Boise City define affordable? Will these units be affordable to the people that already live here or is the target market those that are moving here? Will many Boise natives be displaced from their current home?
With all of this said, there has been buzz around the world of 15-minute cities. Oxford, England is aggressively implementing their 15-minute city despite the residents’ push back. They are dividing the city into 15-minute neighborhoods where shopping, entertainment, and general necessities will be within walking distance. They sell this as a solution to better the environment. Paris, Toronto, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio are now fully implementing these 15-minute cities. There is a 20-minute city in Portland, OR and also 10-minute cities or 15-minute villages that are being proposed around the world. Is this an indication that Boise, Idaho could become the next 15-minute city? Signs point to this possibility. More to come on this story.
Authors: Christi Warhurst and Jackie Davidson, Ada County Concerned Citizens
This Op-Ed was submitted by Christi Warhurst. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: 15 Minute City, 15 Minute Neighborhood, Affordable housing, Boise Mayor, Carbon-free transportation, High Density Housing, Lauren McLean, Live-work communities, Upzoning