BOISE - After an hours-long meeting, the Boise City Council on Tuesday night unanimously upheld the Planning and Zoning Commission's approval of a mixed-income apartment complex that has drawn opposition from neighbors.
Residents in the area of Whitewater Park Boulevard gathered for the meeting, where an appeal was heard on the Sandhill Crane Apartments.
The complex will include 50 units near Esther Simplot Park, ranging between one and four bedrooms. Forty-five of those would be dedicated to low-income residents.
The Boise City-Ada County Housing Authority is backing the project because of a need for affordable housing.
But neighbors say the density is too high for the area, and they would rather see a focus on homeownership.
Homeowner Ryan Gilbert said he was frustrated by the council's decision. He's worried the complex is going to overtax the capacity of area schools and lead to an increase of dangerous traffic on the streets - Moore and 32nd in particular - where neighborhood children currently play.
"I'm very disappointed: I'm disappointed for our neighborhood," Gilbert said. "I'm disappointed for the school district as well, because the impact of this is going to be immense."
This apartment complex is proposed for an empty plot of land on Moore Street near Whitewater Park Boulevard that Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority has owned for 15 years.
A problem the housing authority says we are facing in the Valley: The need for affordable housing. They say there hasn't been a new affordable housing complex built for families in 15 years.
They feel this is a great location close to resources. The housing authority says the density of the project complies with the blueprint of that neighborhood.
But neighbors say this area of town has many affordable, low-income units.
One major concern for neighbors is that it would be concentrating more poverty in their area, creating a ghetto.
"I hope they realize that they're going to be actually doing the residents of this facility a disservice by putting them in this location with the concentration," concerned neighbor Liz Gatchel said Tuesday.
But council member Maryanne Jordan said the project will allow working families the opportunity to leave near their places of employment, as well as parks and downtown amenities.
"I always get concerned when we talk about rental housing as opposed to owner-occupied housing, that we tend to group people together in a way that I don't think is us, I don't think it's Boise," she said. "I feel like we all have to be mindful of the fact that we can all be in different circumstances and it doesn't make people bad and it doesn't make a situation bad. A lot of it's going to be what we make out of it."
The council vowed to work with the neighborhood to add pedestrian crossings, traffic calming and parking solutions. Mayor Dave Bieter praised the residents who turned out to the meeting for their commitment to their neighborhood.
"I understand the passion of the neighborhood, I understand where you're coming from," Bieter said. "I think you've got a great neighborhood and I think it's going to get even better and we're going to do everything we can to ensure that."