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.
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