Boise City Councilor Alan Shealy should be proud of his Planning and Zoning Department for being “pro-active” with the color drawing and unquestioning text on the front page of the Daily Paper Tuesday.
The city has put forth a major planning effort in the area of 30th Street between State and Fairview for the past year or two. Probably spent better than a million dollars with consultants, helicopter rides, and neighborhood meetings.
They are “marketing” a new park to be developed among the gravel pits behind the former Ford dealer along with a road project to widen 30th St.
If reports are correct, they have the neighborhood on board–and why not with the prospect of soaring property values brought about by a landscaped boulevard with light rail, a major municipal park with fishing, kayaking, soccer fields, and all that parks offer?
Shealy has publicly favored a strategy of getting the city’s message out first–especially in the Statesman–so they don’t have to react to the GUARDIAN…actually he said “the photographer and his blog.”
Here’s the deal. The city has done the right thing working with Ada County Highway District and the neighborhood to come up with a “vision.” They have created the buzz, they have pretty pictures of “concepts” and predictions of increased business and assorted urban lifestyle upgrades. The low income 30th Streeters will somehow get to stay in the new upscale area and drink latte at their own “Hyde Park.”
What the City has NOT done is come up with a financing plan or full disclosure on the issue of tax increment financing–that means diverting all the taxes on IMPROVEMENTS in an urban renewal district to the District itself for “infrastructure” improvements.
The net result of such schemes means those of us who live outside the District pay for the police, fire, etc. in the refurbished neighborhood. That’s how it works downtown. The property owners pay taxes on their improvements and appreciation, BUT it all goes to the CCDC, not Boise City, ACHD, Ada County, or Boise Schools.
Neighborhood improvement is a great idea, but not at the expense of the rest of the city. We already make up the difference for lost tax revenues on those exclusive downtown condos, BoDo, and the Front Street complex. Team Dave has publicly hinted at using tax increment financing for the 30th Street area.
The GUARDIAN gave the P&Z spin meister every opportunity to declare the project to be (A) private endeavor under city direction, (B) funded by tax increment bonds, (C) paid by increased taxes–anything. He would not commit, calling the financing “part of the planning process.” He also would not rule out any of the options.
We think it disingenuous to spend time and public money creating a dream–and a vision is certainly a dream–and refuse to make public any method of creating a reality of that dream.
It may be “pro-active” public relations, but any claim of “This is what the public wants” rings hollow.
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