BOISE, Idaho — Public safety, affordable housing and increasing transportation options are among issues Boise Mayor Lauren McLean has identified as priorities for her administration.
The mayor wrote in a Tuesday statement that her priorities had been set back in January after feedback from Boise residents.
"At that time, our city was at a pivotal moment of growth and it was clear we must take action to protect what we love about our community," she wrote. "Since then our community has experienced unprecedented hardship. Along with the rest of the nation, we have had to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on our health and economy. The needs of our residents are even more pressing, and this moment requires that we protect what we love about our community – safe, strong neighborhoods, open space and clean water – while protecting the health of our residents and preparing for a strong economic recovery."
McLean outlined six priorities for Boise as the region continues to battle the coronavirus and work to rebound from the unemployment, business hardships, and financial issues that have accompanied the illness' spread.
The mayor's priorities are listed below:
• A Safe and Healthy City for Everyone: A safe and healthy city serves and includes everyone. Under the leadership of a new Fire Chief and Police Chief, we'll make sure our policies and practices mirror the needs of our community. We'll work to create public safety agencies made up of individuals committed to serving our community.
• A Home for Everyone: Keep our neighborhoods people-scaled and people-friendly, knowing that strong neighborhoods need housing at every price point.
• A Clean City for Everyone: Protect our clean air and clean water, improve parks, open spaces and pathways that unite neighborhoods and connect us. Create opportunity through the transition to a clean energy economy.
• Engaging Everyone: People are key partners in our efforts to create a city for everyone. We will fiercely seek opportunities for collaboration, remain accessible and transparent, and build on our residents' passion for Boise and desire to shape their future.
• Opportunity for Everyone: Invest to build an economy that uplifts everybody in our community, with family wage jobs and access to opportunities. Support homegrown innovation and invest in education, housing, transportation, climate innovation, and arts and culture knowing that each of these contribute to a strong, inclusive economy.
• Movement for Everyone: Make it easier to bus, bike and walk, because our residents must be able to connect to opportunities when and where they exist. And invest in creative approaches to move our residents from their homes to work and everything in between.
The city has set goals to meet those priorities including strengthening community policing by providing crisis intervention training to all officers and increasing staffing at Boise Police's Behavioral Health Unit.
Other planned actions include designing and building a new fire station in Northwest Boise by 2022, begining construction of mixed-income housing on city property at Franklin and Orchard, protecting existing affordable housing, creating a database to track tree planting throughout Boise, and developing a daycare solution for city employees.
The mayor's priorities were released a week after the City Council voted to move forward with the 2021 city budget. The budget, which came in as $34 million under the 2020 budget, drew contention from both those who argued that the city's programs for climate action and diversity studies were wasteful spending, as well as those opposed to a $1 million increase to the Boise Police Department budget.
City Hall was the site of protests from those who believed the police budget should be reallocated to other social services in the wake of the killing of Black men and women by officers elsewhere in the U.S., as well as counterprotests from people who did not want a decrease to police funding.
The new budget did not include an increase in property taxes for Boise residents.
Mayor McLean has been holding monthly listening sessions to answer questions and take feedback from residents. She says she will continue communicating with Boiseans and work to increase transparency from the mayor's office.