Guest Opinions

While Ada County grows, planning documents sit on the shelves and collect dust

The Ada County courthouse.
The Ada County courthouse.

In a recent Guest Opinion to the Idaho Statesman, incumbent Commissioner Jim Tibbs “called it quits” on a “long-running feud” with the city of Boise. He pointed to the county’s 2025 comprehensive plan that calls on Ada County to “support the land-use and development policies expressed in (cities’) adopted comprehensive plans.”

And yet our current county leadership has consistently failed to show up on the pressing issues of growth and housing affordability, just when we need their leadership most.

For the past three and a half years, in my former role with the city, I led the Housing and Homelessness Roundtable, a group of nonprofit, faith, business and government leaders seeking to find common understanding on housing affordability and homelessness in Ada County. Together, that group supported the development of New Path Housing, Our Path Home and is now driving the effort to create permanent housing for veterans in Ada County. Together they are identifying strategies that can be tested and implemented across the county.

Unfortunately, our current county commissioners have not attended the roundtable for the past 18 months. This lack of engagement — while rising housing costs are pricing working families out of the market, traffic congestion swells, and our air quality deteriorates — is deeply troubling.

Ada County residents are impatient for responsible, collaborative leadership. While our community grows at a rapid pace, we cannot let planning documents sit on the shelves and collect dust. Ten years ago, the creation of a unified, enforceable plan for growth, the Blueprint for Good Growth, was attempted. Unfortunately, its goals were not fully adopted and our current county leaders did not pick up that mantle to lead these regional conversations.

I find that Idahoans both new and old love Ada County for its access to open space, great communities for families and cost of living. But without serious action to keep those communities affordable, connected and healthy, what we love most may be lost within a generation.

It’s time for bold leadership, a collaborative spirit and the willingness to show up and do the work. We can chart a better course for our community, for our children and their children, but the time is now. We need to show up for Ada County.

Diana Lachiondo is a candidate for Ada County Commissioner, District 1. She’s a fourth-generation Idahoan and a mother to young children.