Guest opinion by
STEVE “BIKEBOY” HULME
Today a Boise Police Officer (a pretty young gal with a ponytail, but that’s irrelevant) pulled up next door at the “Headstart” school, in her marked SUV cop car. Left the motor running. (A sign in the next parking spot over – NO-IDLE ZONE – SHUT OFF YOUR MOTOR.) Walked inside – she was in there for a good hour. (I was just outside, doing final prep for 2023 flood irrigation, so I observed the whole time.) She and a Headstart lady walked out, and conversed for another 5-8 minutes outside. Next to her motor-running SUV. So it was sitting running, with nobody inside, for over an hour.
I went in to get my camera – was gonna snap a photo of the car, the conversants, and the sign. Alas, by the time I got back out, the cop SUV was gone.
There may be a good reason why they keep the motor running. Hopefully a better reason then, “Cops don’t like hot cars in the summer, and cold cars in the winter.” Because that could probably be said for all of us… but just the same we shut off our motors. Some folks may do it to save the planet – I do it to save $. Maybe the City of Boise likes to save money and Mother Earth, but not enough to make Boise’s Finest suffer in a warm car.
EDITOR NOTE–This happened May 12. If any BPD supervisors or IA wish to inform the errant officer of her misdeeds. the GUARDIAN can offer contact info to the author.
Nearly 15 years ago the GUARDIAN revealed a series of idle incidents similar to this one which prompted the following official policy at BPD–anmd ALL city departments. We don’t know if they have abandoned the policy or if the coppers simply ignore it. It isn’t a race issue, but perhaps the Washington lawyer-investigators are needed.
Vehicle idling gets zero miles per gallon; unnecessary idling wastes fuel and pollutes. Running an engine at low speed (idling) also causes additional wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds. The break-even point for shutting off and restarting gasoline engines or leaving it to idle is 30 seconds – from the point of view of both emissions and fuel consumption. This restriction does not apply to congested traffic, city driving or traffic controls.
Air quality is a critical issue in our area. One of the leading sources of air pollutants of concern is from vehicle tailpipe exhaust. The City of Boise needs to be a leader in reducing sources of these air pollutants. Additionally, the rising cost of fuel makes it imperative that the City of Boise focus on fuel efficiency and cease vehicle idling when not warranted by the situation.
Effective immediately, unless exempted in the following section, no City vehicle or piece of equipment is to be idled in a non-emergency situation. The operator of the vehicle/equipment is to turn-off the unit and the keys are to be removed from the ignition.
The following situations will allow idling, as needed:
A. Emergency vehicles at scenes where lights, Power Take Offs, and/or other accessories are needed to accomplish the mission;
B. Police vehicles working traffic enforcement details;
C. Department of Public Works, Department of Parks and Recreation and Boise Airport vehicles at job sites requiring the use of emergency lights, Power Take Offs, and/or other accessories to accomplish their assignment. Planning and Development, PDS Inspector – 2005 or older and non-hybrid vehicles only, while performing inspections.
D. Inclement weather situations and the supervisor authorizes the use of the vehicle/equipment heater-defroster for the work crew’s comfort according to the guidelines listed below;
1. If the outside temperature is: Above 32 degrees F: 5 minute maximum
2. Between -10 and 32 degrees F; 15 minute maximum
3. Below -10 degrees F: as necessary
NOTE: Operators of vehicle/equipment and supervisors will be judicious in the idling of units at emergency scenes and job sites. If not all the units at the scene/site need to be idling, those units must be turned-off and the keys removed from the ignition. Each vehicle/equipment operator will be responsible for the idling operation of their unit and will have the unit keys in their possession to ensure that crewmembers do not arbitrarily violate the policy without the operator’s knowledge.
Supervisors in each department/division will be responsible for the adherence and enforcement of the idling policy. Violations of the policy will be documented as to the vehicle/equipment operator, vehicle class code, location, date and time, weather conditions, and circumstances of the violation.
The vehicle/equipment operator will be informed of the violation by the supervisor at the time of the infraction.
Department Heads will be responsible to ensure this standard of conduct in the use of City vehicles and equipment. Employees have the responsibility to abide by this regulation, violation of which can subject them to progressive disciplinary action.
The Guardian has been a long time proponent of allowing citizens to vote on issues as profound as the proposed up zone. City officials seem to be taking a lesson from the Idaho Legislature when it comes allowing citizen votes.
Guest Opinion by
Why I will urge the Planning and Zoning Commission to Reject the Upzone:
Tyranny. It’s top-down tyranny for Boise leaders to impose a Code re-write cutting the public’s voice out of development decisions that will profoundly alter our Boise neighborhoods.
Transparency will be lost. Developers will push projects on city staff with no public hearings, increasing potential for corruption. Projects will be set in stone, and the public’s only recourse will be expensive appeals. Crucial development decisions that could drive us out of our homes or apartments will be made behind closed doors at City Hall.
Teardowns will multiply. Existing affordable housing will be hauled away as trash to the landfill and replaced by new much larger structures with a bigger carbon pollution footprint. How not to get to net zero. Tree canopy cover will be chopped down. The City of Trees will become the city of stumps, harsh concrete, and an unhealthy environment. Temperatures will shoot up. The urban heat island effect will rise as green space vanishes.
Trauma. The social fabric of our community will be ripped apart as predatory speculators swoop in – turning Boise into a city of transitory renters, where regular folks can’t afford a home, and workers live in fear of rent skyrocketing and impending homelessness.
Terrorized. How renters will feel when landlords keep raising rents and they endlessly have to move to survive. How seniors will feel when they can no longer stay in their homes as tax assessments climb and gentrification engulfs them. Taking away a good place to live from all those who helped build this community over the 60 years that the existing Code and various modifications have served us well. Taking from those who invested their life savings to buy a house in a pleasant place. Taking from neighborhood groups who spent thousands of collective hours crafting plans for livable neighborhoods. Taxes will go through the roof. Seniors and workers will be forced to flee to somewhere more affordable. Traffic.
Jammed! Streets are already clogged, as our weak public transportation system falls further and further behind. Transfer of wealth will take place. High density apartments and Airbnbs will be owned by Wall Street speculators and transnational corporations. Money will flow out of Boise. Civic values will suffer.
Trickle down housing has failed to produce affordability wherever it’s been tried. This complex, confusing 600+ page Code change and 300+ Comprehensive Plan revision will foster a Wild West growth mentality and chaotic development. Robber Baron style developers will chart our city’s future, converting Boise to a city of renters at the mercy of landlords.
Any large-scale Zoning Code change should come up from the people and be conducted through close study of, and consultation with, individual neighborhoods. It should not be imposed top down using expensive consultants who spoon fed boilerplate growth industry schemes, resisted in other cities, to a committee weighted with development interests hand-picked by the Mayor.
Any change of this magnitude must be put on the ballot for a public vote, giving citizens and media the time to dig into what these vast regulatory changes will do, and how they will impact our community. Instead, city leaders are trying to rush this through, and put distance between the Code controversy and the upcoming fall 2023 local elections.
The following guest opinion is authored by a retired member of the Idaho Bar, who practiced law for several decades in Boise.
Guest Opinion by
RANDALL FRANCH, Esq.
The Legislature passed into law one bill to criminalize gender-affirming medical care and another to criminalize any person involved in interstate travel of girls for abortion. Gov. Brad Little signed those bills, although he did veto a bill criminalizing librarians for not engaging in certain book-banning.
Only one member of the Boise School District Board of Trustees, Shiva Rajbhandari, expressed his frustration with the Governor’s actions. He said aloud what many of us thought. Those thoughts were expressed with profane language, but they addressed the extreme threat that this Legislature had made to the health, safety and lives of too many young people in Idaho. That Gov. Little, supposedly the moderate Republican, would sign those bills, says much about the power that right-wing Republicans, controlled by dark money forces that they do not even know exist, exert on Idaho politics. Idahoans are not nearly as hateful as their Legislature makes them out to be.
The School Board reacted badly to Mr. Rajbhandari’s social media post. It determined that Mr. Rajbhandari had violated its Code of Ethics, although it did not identify any specific part of that code in its press release, or how and why Mr. Rajbhandari’s statements, made on his personal social media, should be subject to any action by the Board of Trustees. Free speech may make people uncomfortable; sometimes it must make people uncomfortable to force them to open their eyes to behaviors that must be stopped.
That Board should have expressed its own outrage at legislation that potentially subjects its most vulnerable constituency to harm and deprives them of the medical care designed and intended to save their lives. It should not have engaged in the bullying of Mr. Rajbhandari, who is still 18 years old, facing off, unfortunately, against a Board of much older, more experienced adults. This Board of Trustees should be vehemently opposed to bullying, even by this Board of Trustees, against one of its own members. Bullying must be opposed whether on school grounds or in Board of Trustee Boardrooms.
The steps that Mr. Rajbhandari is taking are not, as insisted by the Board, an exercise in rebuilding trust. It is simply punishment for free speech that they did not like.
There is no question that Mr. Rajbhandari had a first amendment right to address these matters, even in harsh terms. It is less clear that the Board of Trustees had any right to sanction Mr. Rajbhandari at all for his protected speech. Neither the School Board nor any other body consisting of elected officials should have any right or power to sanction another member for their constitutionally protected speech. The voters who elected Mr. Rajbhandari are the sole arbiters of sanctions to be imposed. That is what elections are for.
The School Board would have done far better to issue a press release criticizing language it did not like but strongly identifying with and expressing unyielding support for the LGBTQ+ community, as Mr. Rajbhandari wholeheartedly did. That it missed this opportunity shows a complete failure to stand up for the constitutional rights that all Americans, even board members, have and the rights of Idaho’s children to the medical care they may need.
EDITOR NOTE–The GUARDIAN has also questioned the propriety of the school board meeting in a secret (executive) session to discuss the private activities of a fellow elected official.
The Washington D.C. legal group hired by Boise City has not come up with any information for public consideration according to a current post on BOISE DEV.
The BOISE DEV piece is worth a look as it goes into detail about the matter.
The GUARDIAN confirmed the law firm burned through $500,000 in taxpayer funds investigating the potential possibility of racial issues after a retired captain was noted to be posting racially based messages on social media. The outside investigation is on hold at present and further funding will likely be discussed in May by the City Council.
To our knowledge, the investigation is not the result of a single complaint alleging police misconduct or racially motivated police action.
The following guest opinion was submitted to Boise officials as testimony regarding the proposed zoning ordinance change.
Guess Opinion by
Boise currently allows between 15 to 45 dwelling units per acre, sometimes more, and under the proposed Zoning Code those numbers remain but, in some cases, unlimited density is allowed.
Contrast Boise with all five boroughs that comprise New York City – the most densely populated city in the nation.
According to the 2020 Census, New York City, overall, has approximately 19 dwelling units per acre. Boise’s currently allowed maximum density and proposed maximum density is at least twice that of New York City overall and about two thirds the density of Manhattan which has 63 units per acre.
After New York City, San Francisco is the second most densely populated city in the United States.
So why is Boise attempting to surpass both New York City and San Francisco in density? Do Boise residents really want to live in the most densely populated city in America? As a 45 plus year Boise resident, who grew up in Philadelphia proper, I don’t think so.
It is time to make both rational and realistic decisions about population density. 45 dwelling units per acre is neither rational nor realistic. The same goes for unlimited density. Perhaps 10 to 12 dwelling units per acre would be sufficient. Dwelling units per acre in that range are more than double the 2020 Census reported dwelling unit density for Boise and they are more than sufficient to support a transit system per St. Paul, MN Metropolitan Council guidelines.
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