Shortly after Idaho became a state in 1890, laws were written creating a referendum process should the people need to challenge their elected officials on any decision. When it comes to local land use decisions, there have only been two efforts to use the referendum process — one of which failed and the other is currently in progress. The current referendum, if successful, would allow residents of Ada County to vote on whether or not to uphold an ordinance governing the Dry Creek Ranch subdivision situated northwest of downtown Boise. Concerns with the development plan include inadequate public amenities, inadequate sewage treatment, road capacity, and various other quality of life factors.
House Bill 568 was introduced on Feb. 26, just one month before the 2018 Legislature hopes to adjourn. This bill takes away the ability of all citizens to pursue a vote to repeal land use decisions through a referendum process. There are no other limitations on the subject matter of referendums in Idaho law. This bill was created to stop efforts to save the Dry Creek Valley from an unsound development plan. House Bill 568 is problematic because it blocks the people’s right to act in extreme cases.
Christina Stucker Gassi, Meridian
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