Idaho Dispatch

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Op-Ed: Stop Boise’s Modern Zoning Code

By • March 7, 2023

Boise’s final draft of their proposed “Modern zoning code” has been released. This 611-page document of complicated, cross referenced planning jargon will entitle and incentivize a tidal wave of infill redevelopment across Boise. Older neighborhoods currently occupied by homeowners, tenants, and businesses, many of whom are the most vulnerable of Boise’s populations. These areas house our lowest median income residents, many of our elderly seniors and provide many with lower priced options for housing- to buy, to rent, to live out their final days.

When a city administration or any government entity decides they “know best,” we should all be alarmed, concerned. Make no mistake, this new zoning code is specifically designed to massively increase production across an occupied landscape. By simply decreasing minimum lot sizes, it opens up the potential of subdividing thousands of lots previously unattainable due to their size. By increasing maximum heights, it intrudes and ignores the current built environments and surrounding homes, while providing maximum profitability through square feet and room count. By changing and enabling new allowed uses, it changes the landscape and types of businesses that can open next door, across the street “by right,” which means there is nothing you can do. From neighborhood markets- which can serve alcohol, to Bed and Breakfasts housing over 12 guests, to “live work” allowing almost any business, you no longer have any say in how your neighborhood evolves.

Single family homes are no longer desired- unless you live in a protected area like the North End, Harris Ranch, or any new subdivision. Instead, multi-family homes are now the new desired form and function. Duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and small apartments up to 12 units will be entitled next to you, across from you, behind you. Each able to reach up to 40 ft high and 3 stories. Privacy? Uniformity of design, of construction? Nope not anymore. Public hearings? Gone- it’s an allowed use “by right.”

Boise is growing, it is popular, it is unique and still enjoys a small city vibe. Recently Boise was awarded the title of “Fastest growing city in the country.” A title that was quickly followed by the “Least affordable city in the country.” Just how fast do we want to grow? Just how unaffordable does Boise want to become? Growth and popularity always bring higher prices, they work hand in hand. As we promote redevelopment of an occupied landscape, where are the displaced people to go? Those “displaced people” will have limited options. Many will become homeless. Homeless that will undoubtedly need taxpayer assistance in aid, comfort, and housing- all taxpayer funded of course. All enabled, created by a local government who promoted redevelopment. Forced from their homes by landlords who sold to multiple offers from hedge fund investors. Forced from their homes due to a changing neighborhood and landscape they did not seek.

Ask yourself, who benefits? Why now? What has changed? Well Boise is running out of landscape to develop. The easiest quickest way to increase housing production is to densify its built environment to support transit, bicycles, scooters and electric cars. Boise is now center stage in the national and global development networks of hedge funds. Think we’re growing fast now, just wait until the jet fuel of the “Modern zoning code” becomes law.

Unless it is stopped. Unless Boise residents, like yourselves, decide they want a different approach and outcome. Unless you, each of you decide to do something about it. Boise’s modern, progressive zoning code can be stopped, but it requires effort. Effort to educate yourself to understand. Effort to mail and email the Mayor and City Council and legislative representatives. Effort to testify. The time is NOW, to get involved, to take a stance, to determine Boise’s future. The “Modern zoning code” is here. What are you willing to do to change it, stop it, or let it ride?

Go to for more information. Watch a video, read some articles, ask some questions. Register so we can reach out to you to organize and mobilize our effort. Google upzoning.

Just don’t sit on the sidelines. This will change and drive Boise’s landscape for the next 50 years or more.

Dave Kangas, President, Boise Working Together, INC., Realtor, neighborhood leader, concerned citizen who has been actively involved in local issues for over 20 years. Boise Working Together is a group of neighborhood leaders formed to hold local government accountable. BWT brought the library initiative to ballot in 2019, which passed with 70% majority. BWT is part of a coalition opposing the “Modern zoning code” through RejectBoiseUpzone.

This Op-Ed was submitted by Dave Kangas. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: City of Boise, City Planning, Development, Growth, High Density Housing, Homelessness, Modern Zoning Code, Planning and Zoning, Residential Development, Upzoning, Zoning

14 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Stop Boise’s Modern Zoning Code

  1. I’m confused by your line of reasoning in this article.

    “Growth and popularity always bring higher prices, they work hand in hand.”

    I don’t see evidence for the correlation between growth and higher prices. Popularity certainly increases prices, but wouldn’t growth (i.e. increasing the housing stock) combat that supply crunch? Basic laws of supply and demand.

    If your concern is about “neighborhood character”, then come out and say it: you don’t like the look of triplexes. But don’t pretend that your concern is for affordability, because rejecting the code will only limit our options to increase the housing stock.

    1. Dave just wants his neighborhood to be a retirement community. He feels entitled to prevent any change from happening, and the first step toward stopping change is saying “we need to slow down! This is all happening too fast! Don’t let big gubbermint decide for us!”

      …despite this being a years long process with endless public outreach and one rewrite of the draft based on a survey that reached less than 2% of Boise’s population.

  2. Communism is Communism. Boise’s Mayor and her entourage could give a rip about The People’s actual needs. She’ll confine them, restrict them, and make them submit to her Communist ideologies unless The People Stand Up and Revolt!

    It’s our choice, a prosperous and independent Boise or Mayor McClean’s vision of authoritarian and restrictive communism.

    1. What the tin foil conspiracy theory lead addled nonsense is this reply?

      Oh no! The horror of… being able to walk to a neighborhood grocer instead of supporting the massive conglomerates like Albertsons.

      The terror of reducing drunk driving by allowing people to walk and bike to bars and restaurants.

      The RESTRICTION OF FREEDOM of not having to find 120 sqft of asphalt, pay for gas, or haul around a 4,000 lb vehicle with you everywhere to participate on society.

      You have swallowed the corporate propaganda from auto manufacturers, the Kochs, and big banks who stand to profit from your massive mortgages for houses bigger than you’ll ever need.

      The things you think give you “freedom” burden you to a life of debt that corporations endlessly profit off of.

      1. During the lock down, did you enjoy what Mayor McLean did to Boise? You had to go the the farmers market by RSVPing and pick up your food in a car line. If you walked towards the market you were met with a masked Karen all freaked out and telling you to RSVP an order next time. You have no idea what you are excited about. The lock down in Boise is what is to come when you are confined to your district. You won’t be able to leave your district freely to go camping or even visit you family in a different district. You are denying a reality that is actually being implemented in other cities and countries.

        1. None of what you’re talking about in terms of “confinement” to your “district” is true.

          Your freedom to swing your arm ends where my face begins, hence the covid lockdowns. There’s a reason that 9 out of the top 10 highest covid death per capita states were red states.

          “Freedom” does not untie you from your social responsibilities. Nobody enjoys quarantine measures, the same way that a child doesn’t enjoy taking their medicine. But they both worked, and they were both good for us.

          1. Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature…Benjamin Franklin

            The Quarantine Measures and Idaho’s political, hospital, insurance companies, central district health department, etc. response were all abject failures and all remain liable for their mistakes.

  3. The city’s councils are only interested in tax revenue and are not concerned what the existing homeowners concerns are by protecting their quality of life and home values and reasons they purchased their homes in the first place. There need to be a more concerted effect to recall all city council’s to protect the tax paying citizens

  4. This is just Boise’s way of equality in housing. It merely continues the leftist urge to eliminate single family housing and make every neighborhood “diverse”. Obama and now Biden are trying to force this vision on America. Glad I don’t live in Boise.

  5. How do people claiming they are all about “liberty and freedom” also think that the government should not allow their neighbors to do what they want on their property?

    I’m genuinely curious how they hold those opinions in their head- wouldn’t smaller government / more liberty and freedom mean you could build what you want on land you own..?

  6. As a homeowner in an area with larger lots, I have already seen a massive multi-unit apartment complex go in across the street (different zoning district). It has increased traffic, noise, police incidents, and liter. I do not want to see the rest of the neighborhood follow suit. I understand wanting to create more and more affordable housing, but this is not a long term-solution. Many of the people moving into these multi-family units will eventually outgrow them or simply want a space to call their own creating a revolving door scenario that is simply not conducive to community building. I’m not saying different development options shouldn’t be considered, but I would prefer to see a community-led, consensus-driven zoning code that protects neighborhoods rather than a top-down blanket decision.

  7. Sorry to get in on the conversation so late. I didn’t think to look. Anyway here I am. No this is not about keeping things the same. My Neighborhood, the Vista Neighborhood- Federal Way, Overland, Roosevelt and the freeway is one of the city’s largest and we currently just under 1500 units apporved and or under connstruction. Growth IS part of the process, uncontrolled, out of control growth is never good for a community. As a Realtor for 20 years I have never seen increased construction amount to decreased pricing. When we peaked at 11,000 permits in 2006 did we see prices go down getting to that point? Nope. When we peaked in 2021 at 9600 permits were prices going down? Nope. Patrick Cardon, a planner from Vancouver used to be a density guru, until the data arrived. A Six fold increase in density in Vancouve, BC has managed to make Vancouver the most expensive city in Canada. This is about recognizing that we, you and I, as residents have the opportunity to decide and determine how we want our community to grow. Or we can sit on our thumbs and just let it happen.

  8. Increased density in established neighbor hoods will destroy quality of life that we treasure in Boise. Parking, traffic, and demand on public infrastructure will further an urbanized hell hole that once was a large “small town” atmosphere. The city leadership is there to protect the residents interests not the developers or potential new inhabitants. The city’s greed for increased taxes (power) creates a duplicitous relationship with the developer’s profit motive. What happened to the “green agenda” of the Mayor? Higher density housing defoliates neighborhoods. Ironic,our moniker, “ City of Trees” is being flattened by our city leadership.

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