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