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New district map comes before Boise City Council

A proposed map outlining new Boise City Council districts
City of Boise
A proposed map outlining new Boise City Council districts that will be debated Tuesday.

Tuesday will be the final time Boise residents can weigh in on what the city’s council districts will look like until they’re updated after the next census in 2030.

The Idaho Legislature in 2020 required cities of more than 100,000 residents to elect city council members by districts. At the time, nearly the entirety of the Boise City Council was made up of members living in the more prosperous north and east ends of town.

The proposed map being considered by the Boise Districting Commission roughly splits the city’s north and east ends along 15th street. Southeast Boise’s district takes a bite out of the Bench along Overland and Orchard.

A full description of each district and its boundaries can be found here.

One source of friction, though, is a split in West Boise that runs the entire length of the city limits from the Boise River north of Chinden down to Victory Road, with Five Mile as the dividing line.

Earlier this month, Boise Districting Commissioner Kathy Peter said the southwest part of the city isn’t anything like the far northwest areas it could share representation with.

“You drive back in some of those neighborhoods and you’ll find these five-acre lots,” said Peter. “You’ll find these small farms. You’ll find a different kind of community.”

But those arguments didn’t land with the majority of the commission.

Commissioner Quinn Perry backed the current proposal that passed 3-2 on Nov. 16.

“Because it has a lower population deviation, it does split neighborhood associations less and it still keeps precincts whole,” Perry said.

If adopted, the proposed districts would pit several incumbent council members against one another.

Patrick Bageant, Jimmy Hallyburton and Lisa Sánchez all currently live in what would become Boise’s 6th District.

Sánchez, the only renter among the council’s six members, told Boise State Public Radio that she was recently given notice her lease would not be renewed, but that “I am looking for housing in my district.”

Council President Elaine Clegg and President Pro Tem Holli Woodings both reside in the proposed 5th District.

Meanwhile, Luci Willits, the council’s newest member, lives in the westernmost 1st District.

Under the plan, Districts 2, 3 and 4 would be wide open.

The Boise City Council will take public input on the plan at their regular meeting Tuesday night beginning at 6 p.m. and intends to adopt a map by the end of the year. All six council districts will be up for election in 2023.

Editor's note: This story previously stated all Boise City Council members prior to 2022 all lived in the north and east ends of the city. But former Council member TJ Thomson, who first won his seat in 2009, lived in West Boise.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!