BOISE, Idaho — At any public meeting in Idaho, citizens' number one complaint can be growth. Really, it's more than just worry -- it's fear. It could be a fear of the unknown, or fear of losing the state that people grew up with -- or losing the Idaho people moved here for.
It may not be an irrational fear. If someone doesn't like growth and no one can stop it, it could be scary. But, while it can't be stopped, it can be managed.
"I think people fear losing their way of life the way they knew it,” Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling said. “That's something that we talk about. How do we maintain the sense of community in the midst of growth, and with a lot of new people moving in that may not value what we value here? So, we're really intentionally working on that to ensure that we have a sense of community and are in Nampa, and that we're neighbor helps neighbor, and that we smile at each other in the grocery store. And we maintain who we were as we move forward and who are going to be in the future."
Mayor Kling said “intentionally" -- that's a common theme for cities managing growth. For Boise Planning and Development Services Director Tim Keane, which means accepting that growth will happen and planning for it with people who are more than just a little concerned.
“It's kind of the subtext for everything. Right? It's really what everybody's thinking about," Keane said.
“Cities are always changing. I mean, we're not deciding that the city should change. That's just the nature of a community, we know that. The issue is whether we are able to as a community to come together and shape that growth in a manner that we like. And the resulting city is a better one. This is not easy to do. There's not a lot of cities that have succeeded like this. But that's what makes Boise so unique, is we're at a period where if we're really careful about it, and intentional, clear with the growth that's happening, it could result in a better, more livable city that people enjoy greater than they do now."
Keane believes that's really the case for not just Boise, but all cities and counties.
What does that look like in the practical world?
It looks like lots of public meetings and public input. There are regular council meetings in your city or commissioner meetings in your county monthly, if not weekly. There are also planning and zoning meetings, design review meetings or just community meetings. You can take a look at the agenda, educate yourself, show up in-person or online, and make your voice heard.