Half A Dozen Growth Slowing Ideas

David Klinger

“When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor.” — President Lyndon Johnson


A mayorship was once considered America’s second toughest job. Now, with the presidency devalued, it’s probably become No. 1.

It’s a job I don’t know why anyone would want, especially today in Boise. For there’s a “perfect storm” headed our way, triggered by this city’s metastasizing growth and fueled by over-promotion, under-readiness, and a general air of uncertainty about the direction Boise is headed.

Town fathers are quick to claim there’s virtually nothing they can do to control the nature and pace of growth here, almost as if they are innocent by-standers at some horrific auto wreck.

True, growth is largely market-driven. But I think there are lots of steps Boise’s leaders could initiate immediately to ensure citizens a more predictable future. Some are easy, some hard. This overheated local economy calls for a dose of well-timed modulation from the drivers with their feet on the community accelerator.

First, end the self-promotion. Boise’s growth will occur organically. It doesn’t need Chamber of Commerce boosterism anymore to bolster in-migration. The era of trade shows and glitzy, coffee table magazines touting Boise as a destination city should end.

Second, admit Boise’s growth isn’t benefiting everyone. The booming growth industry’s “rising tide” isn’t lifting all boats. Developers and land speculators reap record profits, a city government nets $1 million in additional permit fees, while millennials struggle for their first home, working-class folks scrounge for affordable apartments, the homeless proliferate on every street corner. (There’s coincidentally a moral component for Boise’s faith community in this growth dilemma.)

Third, stop framing the debate as “sprawl vs. density.” Growth’s far more complicated and nuanced than a Faustian, “one-size-or-the-other” choice. To become a great city, Boise doesn’t need to sprawl like Phoenix, nor to soar like Manhattan. The key is careful, modulated, appropriately-sited growth.

Fourth, settle these differences among local governments. A city that doesn’t manage its own arteries will never control its own growth. A highway bureaucracy perpetuating the outdated “pave-and-widen“ approach ignores the reality that bigger roads simply beget more traffic. A hidebound and heavy-thumbed state Legislature continues to stifle the taxing ability of its stressed municipalities. Average Boiseans understand all too well that our governmental oxen aren’t all pulling in the same direction.

Fifth, update zoning rules and regulations to reflect current realities. From an outdated comprehensive plan to antiquated zoning codes to simple, public notification courtesies like posted signage, Boise’s “grasp” has failed to keep pace with its “reach” in our development drama. We cannot aspire to 21st century greatness as a city under Mayberry-era rules.

Lastly, let’s finally retire the “America’s Most Livable City” slogan. It’s served us well, but now promises to create the sort of nightmare that threatens the very quality of life we profess to value.

David Klinger is a Boisean and sometime community activist. This piece also appeared in the Idaho Statesman

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Good comments in this article that have been articulated many times already. Let’s talk about culture at city hall, its connective tissues, and its philanthropic reach/dependence. Why are giveaways easier than votes? Any disagreements? Any alternative views? Any surveys? Oh wait, yeah maybe. . . Fish where the fish are.

    I do feel there is hope through insurrection. Maybe an overstatement – no violence required.

    Unstated expectations are only resentments waiting to show their ugly heads. What do we expect from the elected, people? Has your income kept up with your government imposed costs?

    Higher taxes, more congestion, less diversity and inclusion (financial barriers), improvements that are not evenly dispersed, lest we call it good old boy or girl, it is murky.

    Voting is not working. We need another system.

  2. This was one of the best articles I have seen in a long time. He was a little to kind to not to mention the arrogance of the city leaders, especially the mayor, and the need for power, money and greed that is associated with this cabal at the city. They don’t have the commonsense to realize that the people that are coming here are running away from what the city is building in Boise.
    It is so sad the see this town and valley distroyed. Even realtors are agreeing, that this type of growth isn’t good, except for those in power. Can’t wait for the next election, got to make some changes.

  3. Bieter Begone
    Jul 15, 2018, 7:37 pm

    Just another in a long line of whining about growth. And yet, Bieter gets elected and elected as do the minions on the City Council. And why? Because they are progressive democrats enabled by other progressive democrats. As long as they pander to the North End and the Downtown interests, it’s all good with leftists.

    A 19% increase in the Boise budget is no problem because as long as the Council gives money to the NE it’s okay. And the Guardian hasn’t bothered to publicize the Boise budget so one can only surmise the guardian is okay with it too.

    I’ll believe Klinger and the other commenters on this site when people start stepping up and running for office. In other words, put your money and actions where your whines are. Otherwise it’s just words.

    Jul 15, 2018, 7:51 pm

    Disagree that the presidency has been devalued. President Trump is breaking away from global elitists like the Obamas to put average Americans first.
    I like David Klinger and wish him well; but, similar to Obama, he seems a radical leftist progressive of the ilk that is ruining America, including Boise. (By the way, I don’t have much use for most Republicans, either, but at least they’re not for unlimited abortion rights while severely limiting our gun rights.)
    That may be why Mr. Klinger doesn’t call for the defeat of the Mayor Bieter Machine in the 2019 elections. Mr. Klinger and Mayor Bieter are part of the elitists in the North End and East End that control Boise in a corrupt stranglehold. Or so it seems to me.
    Overall, the ideas proposed here by Mr. Klinger seem rather insipid and ineffectual. You can compare them to real ideas for Good Growth as put forth on my page at Keep Boise Unique.
    I suspect the radical progressive elitists don’t really care for solutions, but are content to complain and protest and moralize about climate change — keeping things pretty much the same in Boise. My hunch is that this select circle of self-righteousness includes the likes of Mr. Klinger, Mayor Bieter, Vanishing Boise, and the North End Neighborhood Association. At the end of the day, despite any internal spats, they’re all in alliance, if not cahoots, to keep their status and privilege around these parts.
    The radical leftist progressives are known for ruining cities from Baltimore to Detroit to San Francisco — and enriching themselves off of the taxpayers in the process. They fight for the absurdity of gender-bender bathrooms, but don’t really care about the real needs of the common man.
    The only hope for Boise is that the more moderate, common-sense majority of the city will get tired of getting pushed around by political correctness, and will start by electing candidates truly opposed to Mayor Bieter and his cronies in the elitist progressive establishment.
    I’m wondering if the regular residents of Boise have the courage and commitment to truly keep Boise unique. Our future urgently depends on such decisions to be truly independent of establishment Democrats and Republicans alike. Otherwise all of our concerns will go nowhere!

  5. Tend to agree with your points with the exception of local option sales tax. Would be a bit naive to expect the county/city government to use this wisely. How would the resultant tax increase help those millennials struggling to buy a house or the working-class folks an affordable apartment?

  6. This is the fault of the 85% of people in this valley who refuse to vote. Many are so stupid I’m glad they don’t, but would sure be nice to have 50% turnout instead of 15%.

  7. There is some good in this opinion. I think that if the Mayors and City Council members in any Treasure Valley city say there is nothing they can do against development they are either outright lying (no supporting proof) or being victimized by bribes and various other kickbacks.

    The citizens in the dry creek valley are experiencing problems there and had a petition to override the P&Z for a 1800+ home development. The developers and commissioners didn’t take lightly to the citizen referendum process and had the legislature change the law with H.B. 568 which Butch Otter gleefully signed. That is why we need voter turn out and that is why people like Boise’s Mayor need voted out.

    We had term limits for a short while but thanks to Bruce Newcomb and others in the legislature, who called Idahoans stupid, we no longer have term limits, which we need.

  8. Local Option taxation is the Holy Grail of taxes! It is also the Pandora’s box of taxes.

    Once you open that box you completely loose control of what can be taxed and how much.

    You have seen how “creative” elected officials can be on grabbing money.
    You can also see how they operate once you give them a key to the box – they will open it EVERY TIME they possibly can.


  9. STEPHEN FISCHER, I don’t know the author but presumed when he said ‘devalue the presidency’ he meant the Clintons and the Obamas. Quoting LBJ is rather suspect too considering what a total screwup he was. Pretty much all of them in my lifetime have been disappointing at best. Maybe if we would have elected another authoritarian-communist-socialist like Obama we could all be the same without any worries at all.

    Feeling sorry for millennials is bad parenting, and bad parenting is the core problem with millennials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz0o9clVQu8

    Did he mention wage vs. inflation? It’s a national problem but worse in Boise. Needs to be their focus, not all this other fluffy stuff.

  10. Mayor more difficult than the POTUS??? You’re insane. Trump has the Deep State attacking him continuously through the Corporate Media and corrupt politicians. He appears to actually be Making America Great Again, which is really upsetting our Oligarch Overlords and endangering their profit margins. When you see Dave Beiter getting attacked on every TV channel and newspaper daily, then I might believe you.

    Politicians keep getting re-elected because voters tend to vote for incumbents, unless things are really bad. That is why there are so many corrupt, psychopaths in office.

    More people need to vote?? Negative. Look to statistics for valid sample sizes and you’ll see it is rediculously small. 100% of people voting would have the same result as 10% or much less. Outcomes of elections are not determined by voters, they are 99% determined by the Corporate Media endorsements, which always go to whoever will play puppet / mouthpiece to the rich folks.

  11. Devalue the presidency has to do with the salary.

  12. David Klinger hit the nail on the head.

  13. Slowing idea 7
    Jul 17, 2018, 1:23 pm

    If the air quality index were published daily there would be some people not wanting to come here.

    Local option would be like a bull in a china shop or a kid in a candy store. A kid with your credit card.

  14. These sound like great points, but as always, the devil is in the details. For example, in point three, sprawl versus density – what exactly is careful, modulated, appropriately-sited growth? I suspect there is a huge diversity of opinion buried in here. In the case of differing opinions, who makes the final decision – The private property owner? The neighborhood association? The city, with a conditional use permit or variety of zoning regulations, viwed as either too strict, or too relaxed?

    The same applies to “update zoning rules and regulations to reflect current realities.” I’ve read Blueprint Boise (the comprehensive plan), and it shows very wide swaths of Boise as areas of “significant re-development.” Where does this square with “modulated” growth?

    The points about self-promotion and settling the differences among local governments are well taken.

  15. David, Thank you for you sound ideas. Excellent advice. I’d like to meet with you some time and discuss even more ideas. Ada County Comm. Rick Visser, please call 208-287-7000, if you are interested, and we can arrange a meeting.

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