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Boise leaders want help in planning city growth

Tim Keane with the Planning and Development services said that they are rewriting their rules for how the city grows.

BOISE, Idaho — On this week's Growing Idaho, we're hearing about something wildly exciting: Boise's zoning code. 

Today's growth and how it will shape the look of the city for generations to come. All that is largely determined by the zoning code. Boise's leaders are close to being done rewriting theirs, but they still need to hear from you on the final part.

"This hasn't happened in over 50 years. We're rewriting our rules for how the city grows and develops," Tim Keane said, who is the Boise's Director of Planning and Development Services.

 Keane has been hard at work on the draft of the Zoning Code Rewrite, with a lot of help from the people of Boise. 

"There's lots of opinions, but we're at a place where we're making progress," he said.

The 3rd part of the Rewrite dropped just last week.

"We spent the first two phases, talking about the city we want. And so in part three, we're going to talk about how do we make the city we want easier to build," Keane said.

This phase, or module three, deals with how all the development in the city is approved. It would add a hearing examiner, to streamline appeals, and add an interdepartmental review, to improve collaboration among departments across the city and county. This module would also create new application types, instead of treating all the various projects the same. Keane says this allows the city to fast-track certain projects, like improving transportation and housing affordability.

"When you're dealing with the construction of the city basically, lot by lot, there's some complexity to it, but we're trying to simplify it in helpful ways," he said.

That's really the major theme of this draft, what city the calls, “reinforcing desired outcomes.” Keane says that just means cutting red tape and making it easy for projects that the community has told them they want.

"Tthe worst thing would be if you decide as a community that we really want to solve those problems, by building in this way, if you then made that hard, we're not going to we're not going to make it if we do that," Keane said.

And even though most Boiseans and Idahoans are sick and tired of all the growth, it's happening whether we like it or not. So, Keane says, it's critical to manage and plan that growth with a forward-thinking zoning code.

"Boise is at a formative period in its history, it's growing and changing and, and that growth and change can be our path to a better city," Keane said.

You can see all of module three right now online here… https://www.cityofboise.org/zoning-code-rewrite

If you check that out and have hot takes, the city wants to hear from you.

They've already had a couple public hearings. They have three more coming up on the 3rd at Capital High, a virtual event on the 8th, and another in-person event at the Victory Branch Library on the 16th.

They hope to have the rewrite completely done by next summer.

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