Four main themes emerged in a series of lively workshops the city of Boise hosted in June, and they’ll be no surprise to anyone who’s followed the Treasure Valley’s continuing conversation about growth. Those themes are housing affordability, transportation, cultural and environmental preservation and governance.
City leaders will be pleased with some of the findings Boise State University professor Jen Schneider compiled after facilitating the June events. Among them are Schneider’s observation that many participants want Boise development to follow Smart Growth principles, which emphasize tall buildings and compact subdivisions in already developed areas to encourage walking and reduce reliance on cars.
“As one participant put it, ‘We should be thinking about building neighborhoods, not subdivisions,’” Schneider wrote in her report.
That philosophy fits the city’s approach, from Mayor David Bieter’s office, to the City Council, to planning staffers.
But Schneider’s report contains some warnings for City Hall, too.
“Participants did not feel that the city was listening to them enough,” she wrote. “Instead, there was a general sense that at the city, ‘money talks,’ meaning that planning documents and even planning and zoning could be circumvented if the project was seen as desirable or lucrative enough. Above all, residents want to make sure that planning is done collaboratively and that it is meaningful.”
The city has scheduled two more growth workshops late this month to explore these themes, Bieter’s office announced Monday. These sessions “will include specific growth scenarios that allow participants to play a first-hand role in tackling the issues Boise is facing,” according to a news release.
Demand for two June workshops exceeded Boise’s original capacity, so the city added a third and set up an online workshop so that people who couldn’t attend the events could leave their feedback. The online workshop has been deactivated.
Again in August, a third meeting could be added if that demand continues.
The first session is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 25, at Boise City Hall, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.
The second is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 28, at Timberline High School, 701 E. Boise Ave.
Schneider will return to facilitate the workshops. Both are free and open to any Boise residents who register. You can register online.
The city is asking residents to sign up for only one workshop each.