59 Minute Meeting Recap: Growth, Outlook, and Plans for the City of Star

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Star is a city in transition with an eye towards the future. Our second quarter 59 Minute Meeting emphasized this point as we were joined by Star City Councilmen David Hershey, Michael Keyes as well as Star City Planner Shawn Nickel.

Star has had an interesting and long history as it was settled in 1863 and incorporated in 1905 with a four-mile buffer in each direction. Early growth and decline were tied to the electric railroad and in 1929 Star was unincorporated due to some issues with highway development and paving disputes. It wasn’t until 1997 that Star was reincorporated as a city and part of Ada County.

Star is unique in that it is not a full-service city. The city does not own the sewer and water department, fire department, police force or street system. They are reliant on agreements and cooperation with other districts, county’s and state entities.

The only impact fees that Star collects is for park development — all other impact fees are passed through other agencies. Even though they are not a full-service city, Star is seeing population growth like other cities in Ada County and is in the process of updating their development code and comprehensive plan.

They have an open space rule of 15% minimum with 10% useable being the new standard for open space rules. There is also a plan to incorporate more compact walkable communities into the development plan. This will include pathways from the river to the foothills and a connection to the greenbelt when areas near the river are more developed.

Due to inconvenient transportation access, the city has been somewhat removed from the population growth experienced elsewhere in Ada County. A major future transportation growth factor for Star is Chinden (US20/26) being widened to five lanes, with the last leg of that project expected to begin construction in 2024, and the future Central Valley Express Way will also play a major role in the growth of Star and because of its central location. Currently, the population of Star sits right around 11,000 but it is projected to grow to over 30,000 people by 2040, which means we could see Star grow faster than other communities in Ada County in the future

Currently, the split between business and personal tax revenue that the city collects is 93% personal and 7% business. The city is working hard to bring in more businesses so people who live in Star don’t have to travel to other parts of the county for work and they can keep that tax revenue local. There are plans in the works for businesses to come to Star with specific details to come later.

There are also plans to turn the river area into a row of development that will include restaurants, living units and other amenities not found in other Idaho cities. Envision a version of the River Walk in San Antonio, but in Star, Idaho. The city’s vision for this plan is very ambitious and forward thinking. If it comes to fruition, they will have one of the most unique mixed-use land areas in the state.

We’re excited to see what the future holds for Star. They have a lot of great ideas on amenities to add to the city over the next decade. They are conscientious about the growth that is anticipated to come their way over the next twenty years.

59 Minute Meeting Recap: Is Affordable Housing Becoming a Crisis in the Boise Metro?

3.12.19 59 Min Meeting ImageThank you to everyone who attended our first 59 Minute Meeting of 2019, which posed the question, “Is affordable housing becoming a crisis in the Boise Metro?” Our panelists included Wyatt Schroeder, Director of Community Partnerships for the City of Boise; Vanessa Fry, Research Director at the Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute; and Margaret Carmel, journalist at the Idaho Press.

Wyatt Schroeder began the conversation by asking the group for input on the purpose and definition of a home. As the former Executive Director of CATCH Inc., an organization that assists the needs of the homeless population in Boise, he brought a unique and important perspective on the importance of having a home. He walked through basic definitions of what affordability looks like by using its practical definition (at or below 30% of one’s income is deemed affordable).

This year, the City of Boise is rolling out a program called Grow Our Housing, which has several components to increase the housing supply in the city and stabilize pricing. The first proposal of this plan is to ease the restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units so homeowners can easily add another unit on their property, thus creating new housing inventory options (which was endorsed by BRR as an important and necessary change to help address housing inventory). The other policy proposals for Grow Our Housing haven’t been officially released yet but they will include a housing land trust, housing incentive packages to get builders to include affordable units in their plans and zoning changes. Wyatt also announced that he will be facilitating discussion groups around the city to get more feedback on these and other possible proposals to add more affordable housing.

Vanessa Fry from Boise State University followed up with a deeper analysis on housing options in the region. As an expert in this field of study, she emphasized the importance of making data-driven decisions that will benefit the community. She highlighted how our current zoning designations are impacting cities, and how other options might be necessary and worth exploring while encouraging discussion on reviewing current zoning designations and identifying ways to be more efficient and forward thinking. Vanessa also spoke about the need for a housing needs assessment tool to help Boise and other cities future proof their strategies for affordable housing.

Margaret Carmel discussed a story she recently wrote that compares the different steps that Minneapolis and Boise have taken to address affordable housing. Minneapolis has unique and different resources that impact how they approach affordability, and has created a housing land trust with a program that pumps $40 million into support for renters and will soon require developers to include affordable units. They also have eliminated single family zoning within the city which they believe will encourage denser and more affordable housing.

Boise is proposing different measures to address the same growing issue of affordability and housing supply. It will be interesting to see how the two cities compare as both strategies progress over the coming years.

For those that were able to join us, thank you for attending our first 59 Minute Meeting of 2019! We have many exciting and important topics planned for the rest of the year, so keep your eye out for details on our next meeting!

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!

Recap of the Boise Mayor’s State of the City Address

On Wednesday, September 12, the City of Boise held its annual State of the City Address. The remarks were delivered by Mayor Dave Bieter and we wanted to share some highlights from the event that we’re excited about. The initiatives the mayor discussed aim to address the persistent problem all Boiseans are facing; lack of inventory and high prices in the housing market.

The city has developed a framework to address the lack of housing options and especially affordable housing. This is also a response to the City Workshops on Growth that were held this summer where the number one concern was housing affordability. The plan is called Grow Our Housing and it relies on three key factors; create housing that is balanced compact and possible. Boise needs a mix of housing that includes workforce, middle income, and options at other income levels. Future developments should be compact and not contribute to urban sprawl. Finally, new developments should be realistic and achievable. The city is aiming to set achievable goals for new housing models that will address the growing need for more supply at all income levels.

To achieve the goals of Grow Our Housing, the city has developed five sub-points that will feed into the overall goal. First, the mayor discussed a housing land trust on the local level. Currently, the state has a housing trust but doesn’t contribute any funds to that account. The mayor believes that public and philanthropic money can be used to come up with an amount of around $20 million to incentivize the building of affordable, mixed-use housing that will continue to address the affordability issue and stabilize home prices. Second, the city aims to add more incentives for builders to create more affordable housing. More details to come on this point. Third, the city will leverage public + private land to create more mixed-use income developments around the city. Fourth, the city will work to maximize rules for land use and zoning within the city limits and area of impact. Lastly, the city will increase its partnership with entities such as Capital City Development Corporation and Idaho Housing and Finance Association that have different tools to address these issues not available to the city. City officials believe this combination of actions (some of which they’re already utilizing) will create more housing options for all and address the estimated 50,000 new residents projected to move here over the next 20 years.

Another interesting point delivered in the remarks is the plan to halt rezones in the foothills and other public use areas that are unique to Boise. Mayor Bieter stated there are another 400 homes remaining on the original Boise Foothills Plan to be completed but once that is done, the city will work towards protecting other foothill and public use areas (such as close to the Boise River) from rezones that would include housing developments.

The full address can be viewed here.

We’re thrilled to see the City of Boise take a proactive approach to address housing affordability, and look forward to engaging in future community discussions on these initiatives. If you would like to be involved in the process of attending pertinent city council meetings on these issues, please let us know. We will also share new information with you as it becomes available.

Thank you for taking the time to read this important summary of the Boise, State of the City Address. This is just the beginning, but we’re optimistic that these new proposals will lead to a better city for all.

59 Minute Meeting Recap: Future Economic Growth of the Boise Region

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We had a full crowd on hand for our first 59 Minute Meeting of 2018! Thanks to all those who showed up and participated in our discussion focused on future economic growth in the Boise Region. Our panel of speakers included Cameron Arial, Director of Meridian Community Development; Clark Krause, Executive Director of Boise Valley Economic Partnership (BVEP); and Bobbi-Jo Meuleman, Director Idaho Department of Commerce.

Each speaker touched on the economic growth forecast from their own unique perspective and highlighted the challenges that come along with it. They also discussed the recent announcement by the US Census Bureau that declared Idaho as the fastest-growing state in the union and how that plays into the overall economic picture.

Not only is the economy in the Boise Region booming, wage increases are following suit. All industries have shown a 13% jump in wage growth during the period of 2010 – 2016 with average salaries jumping from $38k to $43k a year.

The Q & A portion of the meeting focused on growth and the underlying factors behind it. Our speakers made it clear that if residents want a voice in how the Boise Region continues to grow, they need to become more engaged in city council and planning meetings. All meeting information is publicly available on city websites throughout Ada and Gem County.

REALTOR® advocacy will continue to play a vital role in planning as the Boise Region continues to grow with economic opportunity. Click here to learn how RPAC works to elect REALTOR® champions who embrace smart growth principals, private property rights, and thoughtful community development strategies.

Thank you again for joining us, and be on the lookout for information regarding our next 59 Minute Meeting in the near future!

59 Minute Meeting Recap: Transportation

Mathew Stoll, Executive Director at Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS), addressing the crowd.

Mathew Stoll, Executive Director of Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS), addressing the crowd.

Thank you to everyone who attended our fourth and final 59 Minute Meeting for 2017! We had a packed room of BRR members who listened and participated in an interesting discussion about the future of transportation in our area. Our panel of experts included Amy Revis, District Engineer Idaho Transportation Department (ITD); Mathew Stoll, Executive Director of Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS); and Bruce Wong, Director of the Ada County Highway District (ACHD).

Our speakers highlighted how these organizations are working together to prepare for the transportation needs of the Boise region’s growing population, estimated to exceed one million people by 2036, while continuing to maintain current infrastructure and address safety issues.

Amy Revis, District Engineer Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), talks transportation at BRR.

Amy Revis, District Engineer Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), talks transportation at BRR.

Each speaker noted how Idaho’s leaders are not meeting funding requirements for current maintenance needs, let alone the new projects and expansions needed to support projected growth. During the Q & A portion of the meeting, they answered questions regarding safety, public transit, and ways to advocate for additional transportation funding.

REALTOR® advocacy efforts will play a crucial part in working with our elected leaders to ensure that our growth is well planned and adequately funded. Learn about the role of RPAC and how it enables us to elect leaders who understand the importance of properly funding transportation and other community needs.

Bruce Wong, Director of the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) discusses a charity event put on by ACHD.

Bruce Wong, Director of the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) discusses a charity event.

Thank you for attending, and look for information about our next 59 Minute Meeting in the coming months!