In an effort to adapt to Boise’s rapid growth, Mayor Dave Bieter unveiled ambitious initiatives for some of the most critical issues facing the city in his annual address to the city Wednesday.
Bieter called for a $20 million housing land trust to try and counterbalance record high housing prices.
“If we are to be a community with equality of opportunity, then what is more fundamental to opportunity than a place to live that you can afford?”
He offered no specifics on how the trust would operate.
In addition, he called for the city to continue offering subsidies to developers who build affordable units, look at ways to maximize density through zoning and collaborate with other public entities.
The mayor also touted the soon-to-be opened New Path Community Housing as one step toward solving the city’s homeless problem. A federal survey from 2016 counts 867 homeless people in Ada County.
How the city handles these issues has been in court for nearly a decade. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Boise Police cannot enforce a city ordinance forbidding homeless people from sleeping outside if they have nowhere else to go.
Bieter is also going to lead a ballot initiative in 2020 to allow Idaho towns and cities to decide whether they want additional local sales taxes. That’s how he wants to fund public transportation in Boise.
“There are areas all around the state that want to do this. We’ve got to bind together. We will do our part and lead the charge in Boise. It’s transit that we need and it’s [a local option tax] we need to do it,” Bieter said.
The legislature has repeatedly swatted down efforts to allow local option taxes in years past.
On the environmental front, Bieter says Boise should ban new construction in the foothills beyond the 400 lots allowed to be developed.
“I think, collectively, we need to say, ‘No more.’ You know, the Foothills, ladies and gentlemen, are just too precious.”
He also wants to power all city facilities with renewable energy by 2030.
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