Time For Canning The Planning?

Following the Tuesday election, political observers have taken note of the growing gulf between Idaho’s conservative and liberal voters–and subsequently the politicos elected.
Boise Houses.jpg

Nowhere is the gap more apparent than in Boise–where the Dems have made some serious inroads–and Meridian where conservative “family values” people have made their voices heard at the polls…it is as though Dems don’t have family values.

Canyon County is also disparate from Boise and Ada.

The GUARDIAN wonders aloud if it is prudent to continue the charade of “regional planning, smart growth, blue print for growth, COMPASS”, and all the other schemes that consume lots of public dollars and seldom actually get anything done. If we can’t elect like minded officials, we will never agree on mutual plans for growth. We can still live on the same block without going to the same church, eating the same food or working at the same company.

Some issues like air and water quality are inescapably joint, but even then Canyon won’t inspect vehicles that foul the Boise air and Boise maxes out the river with effluent almost daily.

Perhaps it is time for Boise to accommodate gays and homeless, forget about 10 Commandments monuments and stop suing the county and ACHD over losing causes.

Meridian can grow itself to death and fill up with conservatives who flee California and the diverse population flooding into the Golden State.

Eagle can continue to cave to developers and attract expensive homes on large lots. In turn they can battle the City of Star over who gets the emerging tax base.

In short, we can still be good neighbors, but we don’t have to pretend to be friends and lovers. Truth is, Eagle wouldn’t want to consolidate into a county wide fire district and if Boise builds new libraries they won’t be paying service fees to Eagle and Garden City.

We have “Red States and Blue States” because we are different. There is no political will for conservative Idaho to join liberal Oregon. None of us like the idea of “outsiders” telling how to live our lives. Why not embrace reality?

Perhaps it is time to just be ourselves–whatever that may be–and stop trying to impose our values, taxes, lifestyles, and religions on others.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Good old Hidden Springs was held up again on the nightly news as an example of a “planned community” – would someone please explain to me what that means? In my mind Hidden Springs is a subdivision with really poor access. What kind of planning is that, for pete’s sake? There are no jobs, shops, or anything else except a little charter school and I haven’t heard anything lately about whether or not that is a success. All the people who live there have to drive to Boise, Eagle or wherever to buy stuff. There isn’t even a little grocery store there, 7-11 or whatever.

    The County commissioners need to take the “planned community” concept and throw it in the round file under the desk. Please. I am so sick of this idea that if we call a plan by a upbeat name then it is a good idea. As far as I am concerned “planned communities” are a big lie.

  2. I do like the notion of trying for a regional growth plan, but you make a very good point. Growth doesn’t fall neatly inside arbitrary city or county lines, and for any plan to be truly comprehensive, every city and county official from here to Ontario would have to sign off on it, something that is not actually impossible, but may as well be.

    As it stands, we all have different outlooks and priorities and plans signed into law in Boise City or Ada County have no legal weight in Eagle or Canyon County. To add to the problem, a growth plan is, by necessity, a decades-long affair, while the people who write and approve them are voted into and out of office every two or four years. Even if you had a hypothetical plan that pleased fourteen mayors and city councils as well as two county commissions, many of those people would be voted out in a few years time and their replacements would be eager to work on a new and improved plan.

  3. Yeah, Naznarreb, a regional plan would be nice, but chances are it would be as meaningless as all of our other so-called comprehensive plans, etc., which seem to evaorate into think air whenever somebody with lots of bucks shows up with a “great idea” and spouts off about how it will increase employment (yeah, for the construction trade, until it’s built), bring in more property taxes to the county etc. (which will will raise everybody’s taxes every chance it gets), etc.

    Our city and county officials have proved time and time again that any plans impose limits only on those with limited bucks, while the ones with truckloads of cash (even non-existent cash, ala the famed big hole in Boise) can get whatever deals, zonings, exceptions etc. the project needs.

  4. What about fear? Seems to me that fear is what is really driving all of this growth.

    The out of staters often speak of, “white flight” as the reason they left California or Texas or Arizona. People are afraid of people with a different color of skin.

    The local governments will agree to just about anything out of fear of pissing off the developers which in turn would make the local chambers of commerce angry which in turn would infuriate the Republican party which in turn would lean hard on the commissioners or council members involved. Elected officials are afraid of losing their coveted seats in office.

    The fear of looking bad in the eyes of the rest of the country. How many times have we seen that bug-eyed lady on channel 6 or Dee Sarton absolutely gush about how some magazine or another has actually rated the treasure valley for some goofy reason? The more that happens the more everyone else wants to take credit and therefore those same folks want to continue the growth and silly projects like Hidden Springs.

    The fight about growth will continue unabated, just like west valley growth.

  5. Huh? I scoured the post for a point but it was lost on me. It almost sounds as if you are advocating for Prop 2. I must have had a better weekend than usual.

  6. Sis–
    The other commenters seemed to take it the same way I did: it would be hard to get consensus on regional planning goals with the regional politics ideologically split as much as the election results make it appear. Perhaps you were just too involved with the BSU victory with 2 seconds left?

  7. Thanks Mr. Logic. If I haven’t said so before you are aptly named. But it still looks as if the Guardian is lamenting the loss of prop 2 particularly with that last sentence. I’ll yield the point.

    So is sensible planning ideologically based? Or does sensible planning fail because of ideological barriers between the political leaders trying to reach the consensus on sensible planning?

    Is there any such effort being made? How do we get our leaders to focus on these planning issues before the steamroller of development paves paradise? How do we hold those leaders accountable for failure to do so? Also isn’t the fact that Boise City holds non partisan elections for the very reason of avoiding the stigma attached to partisan politics?

    Tis a very gloomy picture you paint Guardian with the red state blue state scenario. I like to think we are all Americans first, despite Ann Coulter’s rants, and we are all striving for a better life for ourselves and our kids. Abandoning efforts to solve the problems doesn’t seem sensible. Imposing deadlines on those efforts with an appropriate penalty for failure might be a better way.

    EDITOR NOTE–Sis, I voted AGAINST prop 2. I agree with you that good planning and working to solve growth issues would be great. It simply has not happened and despite “non-partisanship” in Boise we all know better. I was offering a peaceful solution of “live and let live.” People are attracted to communities for what they PERCEIVE them to be and they don’t want another community to call the shots, so why continue the battle?

    If I buy your “deadline and penalty” scenario, who pays the penalty?

  8. Intelligent fiscal and infrastucture planning for new developments and general building projects should always be a priority for all cities and communities in the Treasure valley. Part of the problem is that the ” economic elite” in each seperate political jurisdiction usually controls the politicians and bureaucrats of the same area , so the people ‘s needs come in last.

    Another part of the problem is that each political area in the treasure valley wants to create their own ” kingdom” of larger bureaucracies, and more and better paid politicians at the tax payers expense. The People’s needs here, again, come in last. A third problem is the almost total lack of cooperation between the communities not only in regulating new developments but in providing all the basic living services the people of the area need. Again, the taxpayer loses.

    Part of the answer is a lot less government that functions a lot more effectively by cooperating with every other community’s needs in the area and by actually catering to the people. Why ? because every community has the same basic needs. What we don’t need are more well paid politicians and bureaucrats!

  9. Inside City Hall
    Nov 14, 2006, 2:50 pm

    Hidden Springs and Harris Ranch – along will all other sprawl projects – are OK as long as the city gets the tax money. Just like row houses and massive condos are ok – because the city gets more money then too.

    The push for a “regional” transit authority is nothing more than another way to grab federal funds, raise taxes to subsidize the effort and have “control” or power over the smaller communities. If the State enables these “authorities” then look out – the tax flood gates will be opened very quickly.

    As many voters have learned from the staged effrots of the Blueprint plan, the actual “planning and public input” is all controled to produce a specific outcome – to enable more government control and ensure the money flows to certain places.

  10. I don’t see the problem as planning but execution. A lot of agencies would like to plan more but are not making public announcements because they are afraid private developers will profit. Or agencies are saying they want one thing in the hopes that will result in them getting another – the thing they really want.

    For instance, the Meridian School District told a local city council that, yes, they know where they need new elementary schools to support all the growth but they can’t tell anyone. If they point out a plot of land they are eyeing then a developer will come along, snap up that chunk, and raise the price on the school district.

    I’ve personally witnessed ACHD play complex, emotional political games just to get cities to play along with their plans. Some day ask Lynne Sedlacek about how ACHD threatened to bulldoze her parent’s farmhouse for a new road just so the City of Eagle would put pressure on a developer to ‘gift’ land to ACHD for the road they really wanted. The game they played was surreal because they kept dragging ‘expert’ after ‘expert’ before the city council to swear that bulldozing the farmhouse was the only viable, cost effective option for the supposed road BUT when you look at the conceptual drawings it was obvious to everyone that the road was a completely ill-conceived.

    Now ACHD is playing the same games with the people along Ustick. They are threatening to take land from people on the north side of the street (east of Cole) when the easements and alignment on the south side of the street make taking that land more reasonable. What does ACHD want? Why are they putting pressure there? We don’t know and we won’t until their little game is played. Unfortunately, it is those games that are played all over the valley so nothing is getting done.

    Just look at all the issues in this valley that SHOULD get done and should have been done a long time ago and you’ll find some political reason why we haven’t gotten on the ball yet. Make a real Highway 55 from Highway 84 north? Not done. Connect Highway 16 over the river? Heck, consider ANY river crossing! Not done. Pave Dry Creek Road from Highway 55 to Downtown? Obviously not done because there are too many wealthy homeowners back there who don’t want to be ‘discovered’ (or rather, inconvenienced by increased traffic). Put a by-pass freeway south of Highway 84 for alternate access to the airport? I’ll be old in the grave before that is done. Same goes for a real highway to the northern part of the state. Think of all the schools that are not being built. Think of all the hospitals, fire stations, police stations and libraries that fall into a black hole and they all didn’t happen because they weren’t planned. They didn’t happen because few people in our government have the gumption to get it done.

  11. Yes, the voting patterns in the valley have taken on a more pronounced spatial aspect to them. Another way to look at it is those who spend more time in their cars to and from work punch the R than those who live and work east of Cole Road. Boise may be Blue Turf based on the recent vote, but during the work day the 40,000 guest workers from the west color it purple.

    The growth issues are complex and contentious but I am not one to join the “cut and run” crowd as Guardian seems to muse. It would be nice to think each city could retreat and take care of its own issues and not meddle or spend time on the regional issues. Trouble is, there is still the rogue elephant in this valley a.k.a. Ada County Highway District.

    Left to their own devices the ACHD will continue to take tax money from Boise residents and spend it on road projects outside Boise, continuing the subsidy of sprawl that Guardian and many of his camp followers attest to detest. The only way I see to get a more equitable distribution of projects from the ACHD taxes is more communication and joint planning, not less. So on this regional planning stuff I am in the “Stay the Course” crowd.

  12. I was on Ada county planing and zoning in 1996, when Hidden Springs was approved, quite a marketing job it was from Bill Clark hired by the developer. We heard about the many features that would be provided, some were–many weren’t. I left Idaho ten years ago, I often return, but would not consider, Idaho as a permanent address again. The quality of life has considerably deteriorated, with planning nearly non-existent, highways, public transportation, schools, parks and rec departments needing adequate funding.

    My experience indicated county planning and zoning was a rubber stamp for whomever wanted to bring in the next “bright idea”. Home rule would provide many of the answers to the questions about communties deciding what should be done. Every state west of the Mississippi river except Arkansas subscribes to this this theory, though not perfect, it works better than the current arrangement in play in your area.

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