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Old 07-07-2007, 10:45 AM
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Boise Guardian: P&Z Commish Wants Growth Moratorium (http://www.boiseguardian.com/2007/07/07/pz_commish_wants_growth_moratorium.html - broken link)

P&Z Commish Wants Growth Moratorium



Sitting as an Ada county P&Z Commissioner for over a year now, I have come to the conclusion that we need a moratorium on growth in the Treasure Valley. My reasoning is to allow time for catch up and create some breathing (no pun intended) room. I have arrived at this conclusion based upon my perception of the following constraints.

AIR QUALITY: On any given morning across the Valley, from the “Cliffs”/Hammer Flats to the bluffs above Can-Ada road, one can see the “air”. It is a brown haze which settles into our environment and unless the wind is blowing, remains there all day long. When I first moved here, eleven years ago, this was not the case. A long time ago, while serving my country in the armed forces, I lived in the high desert above the LA basin and, on occasion, I would travel to Anaheim to watch a baseball game, as I crested the pass prior to descending into the LA basin, I witnessed the same pollution phenomena. As recently reported in the Statesman, this degradation in air quality threatens our health and our access to federal funds to improve our infrastructure, something else we so desperately need.

ROADS: I travel all over North America on a weekly basis and have the pleasure of being transported from metropolitan airports into the cities which they serve. I pay attention to traffic, mass transit and other forms of “moving” people on a large scale. I must say that my most frustrating experiences are not in downtown NYC, Chicago, LA, DC or San Francisco but right here in the Treasure Valley. My drive home from the Boise Airport westbound on I-84 to the Eagle exit north on highway 55 to State street then west to highway 16 is a nightmare between the hours of 4-7 PM or conversely from 5:30- 8:30 AM. It is only a bad dream at other times. Bumper to bumper on inadequate roads, coupled with a lack of public transportation only serves to add to “seeing” our air. All the while taking away from our quality of life.

WATER: On any given day one can pick up the Idaho Statesman and read about a water issue; lack of it - fight for it - control of it – quality of it. In most cases these discussions center on adequate supply and quality for current residents across the valley floor. In many, if not all, of the applications for development that I review, this issue is only given a minor review and glossed over as if we have unlimited supply and access to this critical resource.

QUALITY OF LIFE: I moved here, as many new Idahoans have, for the quality life the Treasure Valley has to offer. I love the outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping and many summer and winter sports. In short, I love the environment that affords my family the opportunity to enjoy life outside of the drudgery of work. I do not wish to deny that opportunity to anyone; from the longest Idaho resident to the newest arrival. This is why we are ALL here. So what can we do to preserve this way of life before it is gone? My proposal is controversial but it does allow us to catch up and step back and look at the big picture.

MORATORIUM I propose a Valley wide moratorium on all projects for development under the “safety and health” umbrella which is supported by science and fact. We, the entire valley; cities, counties and the state must form a cooperative alliance to ensure the protection of the very quality of life which attracts us all. This is not a case of “NIMBY” (not in my back yard) nor a case of “I have mine now you can’t have yours”; it is a case of control and preservation. Both of which will allow growth and ensure proper levels of growth can be supported by our Treasure Valley environmental, infrastructural and cultural resources. The moratorium must be agreed to by all levels of government and is already being flirted with by many of the smaller cities who are beginning to “just say no”. This is not in an effort to stop growth, it is in an effort to control growth and create a breather to address the very important critical infrastructure needs and how to pay for them without continuing to ramp up individual property taxes of existing residents.

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: Current economic conditions have placed all of our agencies in a unique position. With an oversupply of homes, condos and apartments and with mortgage rates rising in a slowing market we have been provided a window of opportunity that must be exploited. These opportunities are few and far between, to not use them to our advantage is irresponsible. I suggest the moratorium be implemented for 120 to 180 days, beginning sometime this year so we can get up to date studies and analyses from ACHD; IDWR; DEQ; EPA; IDFG; Idaho Power; Law Enforcement agencies; Fire Protection Districts; Ada County Paramedics; School Districts and other critical resource agencies so that your fellow citizens appointed to these planning, zoning and development commissions and agencies have up to date and current studies to make informed and accurate decisions from. I am tired of approving projects because they meet “the rule of law” and “findings of fact”.

Let alone the ACHD traffic study on the project is 5 years old and the current population figures are off by ten fold or the water rights have yet to be resolved and the air quality is causing the elderly and children to remain indoors. I want to make accurate, informed and coordinated decisions based upon what is right for our valley and environment.

I want to complete my appointed task with the trust and with the due diligence my fellow citizens expect of me and my fellow commissioners. Health and Safety are my reasons for wanting this moratorium and I believe they are defensible reasons.

Steve Edgar
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Old 07-07-2007, 10:55 AM
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Wow! He explains exactly what has been happening here for the past 10 years and I do hope they are able to slow down the growth.
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Old 07-07-2007, 10:59 AM
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I wonder exactly how effective a moratorium may be, though. I'd suppose as a commish at PZ you could essentially stop new development by restricting zoning, denying permits, etc.

But it won't stop people from coming here, really. As much as I support the idea of taking a "breather" to try and refocus the county planning, all I see it doing is temporarily improving the housing market for buyers, and driving up housing prices across the valley (simply supply and demand).

Still might be worth it, if nothing else but to stop the new planned communities and subdivisions, and deter those who want to move into new homes and property in the valley.
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Old 07-07-2007, 02:42 PM
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Very interesting article. The only experience I have with cities that have implemented moratoriums is Boulder, Colorado. While they have been able to maintain wonderful open spaces within the city and limit growth within city limits, what has happened in the outlying communities is pretty gross in my opinion. You have generic subdivision after generic subdivision cluttering the Front Range between Boulder and Denver. Many of these people commute into the city, clogging the roadways, utilizing the trail systems and give a feeling of growth and crowding to the city even thought the city itself is not growing significantly.

So has it been effective? I don't know. I suppose that is a matter of opinion. They have managed to keep home prices in the area extremely elevated but outlying growth does affect the city negatively.

I am not sure what the answer is and not sure if there is an answer. The problem in my opinion is the a large percentage of Americans don't care about the affects sprawling growth has on a city. They want their big cookie cutter houses next to Applebees and Walmart. People don't want to take the time to bike or walk to work. We are dumbing down in general as a society, how can we change that??????
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Old 07-07-2007, 02:52 PM
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Good post. I didn't know Boulder did that, but it doesn't surprise me, either. I know exactly what you're talking about, and the home prices there reflect that as well. Davis, CA has the same sort of thing going on, I think.

I think the only thing we can do is to stay where you are and start getting active in your government. Write letters, petition, and do whatever it takes to save your hometown (instead of bringing the same woes to other people's homes).

Other than that, lifestyle choices. Have few kids, try to walk or bike to work, try to support locally owned businesses, lighten your impact upon natural areas, chose career paths accordingly, etc.

Anyone else have any personal experience with growth moratoriums? I know I recently read about a community in Western Montana that voted to limit development. I'd like to see the same thing done here.
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Old 07-07-2007, 03:35 PM
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Here is a website that briefly explains what has been done in Boulder. It is a slightly different situation as these restrictions were put into place before the growth problems became too significant. In Boise, we are back peddling.

Alternatives to Growth - Case Study: Boulder, CO

Boulder is an interesting community though. Although it's dense city core may not appeal to all, it allows for a tremendous amount of is residents to bike or walk as an alternative means of transportation. Basically it provides for a large live/work community. I think an unavoidable side affect is increased property values. In Colorado, with much lower property taxes, it hasn't been as damaging for long term residents although I am sure there are instances.

Boulder has also done a tremendous job controlling and improving air quality something that Boise needs to take action on, NOW!

So is it bad that we limit growth and ultimately raise our property values? It encourages more people to remodel rather than "move up" which is good. In Idaho something would have to be done to limit property taxes or many would not be able to afford to maintain their homes.

The problem in this "good ole boy" town is that too many people do not care about what is happening and only care about the money that is lining their pockets.
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Old 07-07-2007, 05:52 PM
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That link is amazing! Thanks so much.

Taken from this site: Boise-Area Population Density — Sightline Institute

http://www.sightline.org/maps/animated_maps/sprawl_boise_04anim/small (broken link)
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Old 07-09-2007, 05:06 AM
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Question What about Micron's Layoffs?

Really interesting thread, Anthcorless! I appreciate the thorough information, which not all share. Also, you graphics are great.

I read an editorial recently about Micron downsizing and wondered if you had any additional information about it that you might post or direct readers to?

Just to be clear, the view of the editorial was Micron is downsizing, comes from an editor who wrote Micron lost $225 million last quater and will be cutting some of the 11,000 jobs in Idaho. (I found it interesting no # was given).

Any other thoughts to those who may be wondering about a Micron-type job?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Last edited by Mtn. States Resident; 07-09-2007 at 05:35 AM..
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:29 AM
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I'm not as savvy on growth issues as a lot of you, but can agree with idahomama about Boulder. A member of my family lives there, and the bus system in Boulder puts most Front Range cities (i.e. Fort Collins) to shame. I would think that a moratorium on development in any boomtown would backfire. Better that the committee(s) in charge of such decisions dig deep and come up with solid long-term and short-term objectives for their communities. The growth is happening. The best we can do is direct it wisely. Any restrictions should be very specific and enforceable.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:50 AM
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Why and how do you think it would backfire, though?

One of the only legitimate argument I've heard thus far is that in these situations developers threaten to litigate, and that would drain time and money for sure. If you link to the article at Boise Guardian and read some of the comments, some people do have some legitimate arguments against it.

We do have long term objectives; they're just not codified or being followed.
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