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Boise leaders react to approval of Interfaith Sanctuary’s new shelter location

Prior to voting Monday, the Boise City Council agreed on 30 conditions that must be met under Interfaith Sanctuary's conditional use permit.

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise City Council on Monday approved Interfaith Sanctuary's appeal to overturn the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission's denial of a conditional use permit application to use the former Salvation Army building on West State Street as a shelter.

Monday's intense debate covered mitigating adverse impacts of the conditions to the permit. Before voting, the city council agreed on 30 conditions that must be met under the conditional use permit.

Some of the conditions include; adjusting the max capacity of beds to 205, a six-month review with the potential of modifying or adding conditions, safe syringe disposal, and separating family spaces from individual spaces. 

"I disagreed with council member [Patrick] Bageant because I don't think 30 conditions is too much," Interfaith Sanctuary land use attorney, Geoffrey Wardle said. "I have applications that have had more conditions and it's crafting conditions that work and it's everyone acting in good faith to make sure that they work." 

Another condition of the permit requires neighborhood concerns to be brought up first with Interfaith Sanctuary's Executive Director, Jodi Peterson-Stigers. After the vote Monday, Peterson-Stigers said she is relieved with the city council's decision. 

"It's been a really long process and a lot at risk. I tilted stability for our organization for a little while and trying to do a lot better," Peterson-Stigers said. "It's put a lot of pressure on a lot of people, so I just feel so much better right now.

"The work of taking care of people who have lost their housing is never easy work. It's this complex system. We always have to adapt and navigate, so for us of course we will condition, of course, we'll figure out what is needed."

RELATED: Boise City Council approves Interfaith Sanctuary’s new shelter location

While Peterson-Stigers was relieved by Monday's Boise City Council vote, others still had reasons of concern, including Katy Decker with the Veterans Park Neighborhood Association. 

"For instance, we talked about the due process concerns with the security plans and that still hasn't been alleviated by this process," Decker said. "A lot of council members talked about the ability to hear more information and that's something the public didn't have a chance to respond to in any meaningful way."

Decker said the association plans to roll out a legal challenge against the decision since the neighborhood will continue to be involved in Interfaith Sanctuary's future. 

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean did not vote on Monday's hearing, but she ended the meeting with a final remark:

“Interfaith sanctuary is an important partner that provides emergency shelter," McLean said. "I want to recognize that this does not meet our city’s emergency shelter need and so it is really on all of us to advance public-private partnerships and determine how we can best ensure that folks are housed on an emergency basis in this community, emergency shelters are a big part of that. We talk and hear all too often, and with a bit too much vitriol, about the homeless and camps, but at the end of the day, it’s about people, and doing what I know our city can do that other cities haven’t.”

The council members' final vote was as follows: 

  • Elaine Clegg- Y 
  • Holli Woodings- Y 
  • Patrick Bageant- N 
  • Jimmy Hallyburton- Y 
  • Luci Willits- N 
  • Lisa Sanchez- Y

Testimony began Monday, April 18 and continued through Thursday, April 21, with the final decision made Monday, April 25. All hearings were live-streamed on KTVB.COM and the KTVB YouTube channel.

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