59 Minute Meeting Recap: Understanding and Addressing Community Growth

12.11.18 panelists - compressedThe final 59 Minute Meeting of the year was a great success! Our topic was Understanding and Addressing Community Growth and featured guest speakers Scott McIntosh, editor of the Idaho Press; Don Day, editor and creator of BoiseDev.com; and Dr. Jen Schneider, Public Policy and Administration director at Boise State University.

Our panelists fielded growth-related questions from BRR’s Government Affairs Director Soren Dorius. To get the forum started, they weighed in on what they thought was the biggest challenge related to growth that Treasure Valley residents are facing. Unanimously, the panelists agreed that transportation was the biggest issue.

One panelist felt that the biggest challenge to transportation was the fact that all transportation entities work within their own silos and have their own interests. While ACHD has jurisdiction over all the roadways in Ada County, they must work with every city within the county to make sure the traffic systems work for them while also making the county-wide system work efficiently. Another speaker thought the most immediate pain of the growth-related problems we feel on a day to day basis is the increased time sitting in traffic. The longer we’re in traffic the more time it takes away from our everyday lives.

The conversation shifted to discussing possible solutions for the transportation issues after the ACHD registration fee increase initiative, aimed at mitigating and reducing traffic congestion, was defeated in November. The panelists agreed that a local option tax would give cities in Ada County increased flexibility in addressing current and future transportation issues. The problem, as the panelists see it, is the difficulty convincing the Idaho legislature to give this taxing authority to cities. Currently, only resort towns in Idaho can use a local option tax to fund transportation and other public interest projects.

One speaker stated that they believed it would likely take a crisis to get legislators to start seriously addressing transportation funding, similar to I-84 potholes issues recently observed. Overall, the panelists felt an adequately funded and well-run public transportation service is many years away and might only be possible with a local option tax.

Another interesting discussion point involved the topic of affordable housing. Some panelists expressed that it was a market issue and the problem would correct itself, while others said residents felt their local governments had failed them when it came to affordable housing. It was suggested by one speaker that the new high-end apartment complexes that have sprung up throughout downtown Boise are adding to the supply of housing inventory and positively affecting the market. With more options, residents may upgrade or retire to downtown apartments and free up some housing inventory in a more affordable segment of the market.

During the closing Q & A with our members, a question was asked about the best ways to get involved and bring more attention to these issues. The panelists recommended attending and participating in planning and zoning meetings, as well as city council and county commissioner meetings. They also emphasized the importance of getting involved with The Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS). COMPASS will have a major impact in the development and direction of the Treasure Valley as the growth continues.

For those who were able to join us, thank you for attending our 59 Minute Meetings throughout the year! We’re excited to continue and expand these events in 2019 with topics that impact REALTORS® and our communities. Happy Holidays and we’ll see you in the new year!