Saturday, February 21, 2015

UPDATES - Current Public Process

City Council Hearings April 7th and 14th

3/30 Update: Boise City Council will hear testimony on St. Luke's Master Plan in two stages:
  • April 7th — City Planning staff report; St. Luke’s and neighborhood association leadership presentations.
  • April 14th — Public testimony. Those who care about the future of a connected Boise need to speak up. 
See Statesman announcement here.
St. Luke's leadership has invested in an extensive P.R. campaign to promote its own version of history and the facts. Citizens, taxpayers and even journalists can easily find actual transcripts of previous public meetings and decide for themselves what's true and relevant to them.

See examples of what neighbors have expressed so far to ACHD, Mayor and Council, and the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission in the Public Comments section, read up on public planning documents and values in the Supporting Documents section, see some of the Letters to the Editor submitted by Boise residents, local planners, former Council members and medical professionals, and learn Why You Should Care and What You Can Do.

St. Luke's likes to claim its plan (CPA14-00004) is consistent with Blueprint Boise, our city's comprehensive plan. There's only one problem: independent professionals and Boise Planning and Zoning Commissioners say it isn't. The official language from the Feb 9th hearing transcript reads as follows:
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Gibson and then upheld by a total of six of the seven commissioners, with Chairman Bradbury voting to defer a decision (not to approve).
See the Boise P&Z Commission's clear decision and comments with your own eyes on p. 74 of the hearing transcript at Here are some highlights:
  • "I would suggest that you're squandering the tremendous goodwill of the community..." —Commissioner Miller to St. Luke's
  • "I do think the case has been made by the public that an undue burden is placed on transportation—primarily bicycling—by the closure of Jefferson." —Commissioner Demarest
  • “St. Luke's is an important part of our community but it is a part of the community. We’ve heard tonight from many people, we have legitimate concerns about closing Jefferson, and I have those same concerns. It’s a close call for me, but I think connectivity has to trump design issues in this case…” —Commissioner Just
  • "I think it’s important that everybody understands that the vision of Blueprint Boise is connectivity and making sure that residents are served by the process..." —Commissioner Gibson
  • "We’re now trying to combat chronic diseases, obesity, diabetes, all of the things that you all are experts in. I believe that this exacerbates that problem." —Commissioner Danley (his review of trends suggested that closing Jefferson may in fact move cyclists back into their cars.)
  • "...what is the real cost of closing Jefferson? That analysis has not been presented yet...Against that, I set the clear, public loss of an important street. So for that reason alone, I can’t support the plan."  —Commissioner Gillespie
  • St. Luke's Master Plan "…had not yet solved impacts associated with loss of connectivity and loss of Jefferson St." (2/9/15 Boise Planning staff report).
And from the 2013 Boise, Idaho Downtown Walkability Analysis
Boise's Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC) worked with walkability expert Jeff Speck to create a walkability study and report for Boise's downtown. From the study:
"Downtown Boise benefits from a quite small block size—about 300 feet square—and almost none of these blocks have been consolidated into superblocks, which tend to decrease walkability by focusing traffic on fewer streets, causing them to become too wide. The logic of small blocks suggests that no further block consolidations should be allowed, such as the one currently considered at St. Luke’s, which will significantly undermine the effectiveness of the street grid in that location."

See the study for yourself at

3/10 Update: Some folks have asked about submitting comments ahead of the Council Meeting if you've already sent comments previously. By all means, please consider the recent Planning & Zoning rejection of St. Luke's application (see below) and other developments and convey your main points for Mayor and Council review.
  • Submit comments to Planning Director Hal Simmons before March 27th
  • Send a Letter to the Editor in the Idaho Statesman ASAP (limit 200 words)

2/21 UPDATE: The Boise City Council will consider the St. Luke's Master Plan at a Council hearing will be April 7th. Council could choose to approve or deny the Master Plan in its current form. If you oppose street closure and loss of public right-of-way—in any neighborhood—now is the time to let your elected officials know. Learn more about what's at stake and be prepared to share your thoughts.

St. Luke's has occasionally referred to 'cycling groups' that 'support street closure.' This may refer either to St. Luke's employees or board members that are also cyclists, or to the cycling clubs that receive sponsorship dollars from St. Luke's; we aren't sure, but have yet to meet any neighbors or commuters who support the street closure, no matter how they get around.

We're not sure what these supporters have been told about the justification for expansion choices or implications of permanent street closure, but would encourage them to view the actual history and hearing minutes.

We recently learned that St. Luke's is recruiting employees to testify in support of their expansion, and plans to coach them beforehand. Residents and neighbors will need to make our viewpoints and interests known to City Council as well.

See examples of what neighbors have expressed so far to ACHD, Mayor and Council, and the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission in the Public Comments section, read up on public planning documents and values in the Supporting Documents section, see some of the Letters to the Editor submitted by Boise residents, local planners, former Council members and medical professionals, and learn Why You Should Care and What You Can Do.

Streets closures represent a permanent loss to the public, to Boise's street grid, to connectivity and to commerce; the time to get involved is before leaders make key decisions.

Public comments must be submitted to Hal Simmons no later than March 27th.

Council will review submissions from ACHD, City staff and the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission (see below), along with comments from the public and St. Luke's.

Boise Planning and Zoning Commission overwhelmingly recommends denial of St. Luke's Master Plan (full hearing transcript available here)

P&Z Commissioners sent a clear message about the importance of neighborhood connectivity, community values and the role of comprehensive planning to preserve Boise's reputation as one of the 'most livable cities in America.' At the heart of this decision was an acknowledgment that—on paper—St. Luke's current Master Plan goes against everything Boise stands for.

However, this is far from over; stay tuned for updates on the status of the application process and subsequent meetings of the Boise City Council and ACHD. 

2/9 UPDATE: After 4.5-hours of testimony and discussion (including sample video testimony), the City of Boise Planning and Zoning Commission on a six-to-one vote recommended that the City Council deny St Luke's master Plan amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, since amendments can only be made by the council. The next action will be before the Boise City Council unless St Luke's decides to withdraw its request.

Commissioner Gillespie moved to deny, noting that the information for his purposes would require a cost benefit analysis that considered all alternatives including the cost of closing East Jefferson between Ave B and 1st Street. Commission Chair Bradbury dissented (in favor of a deferred decision, also citing insufficient justification for loss of a public street or alternative options besides build/no build).
"Smart people use Jefferson"
Public testimony was overwhelmingly opposed to any closure of Jefferson. "Smart people use Jefferson," said one cyclist. Besides neighbors who use Jefferson as their main connection to the downtown core, a surprising number of medical professionals—critical care/E.R., internists, radiologists, nurse, even a gentleman whose professional career involved siting large hospitals—came forward. They not only opposed street closure, but also questioning the need or wisdom to put such a large-scale hospital in a historic urban neighborhood.
"Bigger isn't always better"
"Bigger isn't always better," said an internist who left St. Luke's after 10 years. She pointed out that as hospitals get ever larger and more impersonal, many physicians leave to start their own clinics. One person after another pointed out the inappropriate scale of the expansion, suggesting that population growth is projected to the west along I-84, so that from a transportation standpoint, the more sensible option would be to center larger facilities in the center of that projected population.

Thankfully, we were able to show the brief video clips sampling opinions expressed by hundreds of people using Jefferson the weekend of February 7th and 8th. We also delivered the first 400-500 signatures from neighbors opposed to street closures.

As full transcripts or a recording of the proceedings are available, they will be posted here.

  • A request was submitted to the Boise City Clerk's office for a transcript or record of the 2/9/15 P&Z Commission Hearing. 
  • The link to video of the 3-plus hour ACHD Commission meeting is available here; although there appear to be challenges with the playback.

Commissioners were thoughtful and well-informed. In their final discussion, they made several pointed observations:
  • One acknowledged that although residents and taxpayers lacked the 'deep bench' of paid experts and professional consultants enjoyed by St. Luke's, community concern and commitment to thoughtful civic engagement were evident. Whereas St. Luke's has a team of professionals whose full-time job is to promote their position, taxpayers and neighbors have no budget and rely on neighborhood volunteers to research the issues and potential impacts of expansion from the community's perspective.
  • Another remarked that, despite extensive and passionate opposition from East End residents to street closure, 'there was an amazing amount of good will towards St. Luke's in the room.' he added a concern that with their insistence on a single option that dismissed neighborhood values and interests, St. Luke's 'risked squandering that good will.'
  • In general, Commissioners concluded that the street closure and magnitude of the proposed expansion were wholly inconsistent with Blueprint Boise and other planning documents.
Big thanks to all those who devoted 4 1/2 hours to be part of this process, including a Boise native who drove from Oregon to oppose demolition/re-relocation of the Bishop Foote House. And huge respect to city staff and a very thoughtful commission; ultimately it was their decision to make, based on the various arguments presented to date.

We extend respect and appreciation to St. Luke's and their many staff and consultants, and welcome an opportunity to explore a different approach that honors taxpayers, neighborhoods and connectivity while moving health care forward in a balanced, efficient and defensible way. No doubt they will continue to advance their position and interests, just as neighbors will work to preserve the qualities that make this part of Boise one of the most desirable places to live in America.


A final draft plan has been submitted by St Luke's to the City of Boise for public review and a public hearing. You can check out the final plan and documents on the city's website at 

To learn more about how St. Luke's proposed expansion will affect you, your commute and your neighborhood's character, read the St. Luke's Master Plan and visit the page tabs above.

Public meetings. Please attend if you can; decisions are discussed and made by people who show up at meetings. If you aren't used to providing comment or testimony, you aren't alone. It's OK to be nervous and a bit emotional and many folks are. Prepare brief comments, do some homework and relax; you're just there to express your opinions, concerns and suggestions. You only get a few minutes and it goes by very quickly.

1/28 UPDATE: The ACHD Commission discussed the staff report regarding the St. Luke's proposal at their January 28 evening meeting. Aside from St. Luke's representatives and the Boise Chamber representative, testimony from residents, commuters and neighbors was uniformly against street closure. Commission members acknowledged insufficient data to make an informed decision on all aspects of the report, and recommended approval with significant conditions. It was made clear that commissioners had serious concerns about loss of grid connectivity, and inconsistencies with their own 'Complete Streets' policy.

The report with revisions and conditions will be submitted next to Boise Planning and Zoning for consideration (see above). Commissioner Baker noted that—given the lack of clarity and current data—the Commission was essentially limited to considering the land-use aspects of the report; not the transportation component. Whatever the outcome of this process, those of us in attendance were impressed by the Commissioner's genuine value for connectivity and their detailed understanding of the long-term implications of street closures.

  • Ada County Highway District | 3775 Adams St. Garden City (more info here)

1/26 UPDATE: St. Luke's Boise held an Open House Monday January 26th, from 5-7pm.
  • Anderson Center | 5th Floor E.E. Gilbertson Lobby | South Tower


The following process outlines steps the St. Luke’s Master Plan must go through in their bid for approval by the City of Boise and Ada County Highway District (ACHD). Shaded items occurred in the past.
  1. April 2014 St. Luke’s submits the Traffic Impact Study (TIS) to ACHD. It is currently being reviewed.
  2. April – October 2014 St. Luke’s held public open houses and a neighborhood meeting prior to submitting their Master Plan to the City of Boise. St. Luke’s will continue to hold neighborhood meetings/public open houses throughout the upcoming public review process.
  3. October 17, 2014 St. Luke’s submits the Master Plan to the City.
  4. 1st 45-day Review Period (Oct 17 – Dec 1, 2014) Upon receipt of St. Luke’s Master Plan, the City of Boise initiated a 45-day review period during which written comments will be accepted from the public and from businesses, agencies, service providers, etc. The draft Master Plan will be available on the City’s website for review during this period. The initial 45-day review period expires December 1, 2014.
  5. 2nd 45-day Review Period At the end of the first 45-day review period, St. Luke’s has the opportunity to modify their draft Master Plan based on the written comments that were received. This will initiate a second 45-day review period for the revised draft that will be scheduled for public hearing. The December 2014 cutoff date for scheduling Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) hearings is the 30th. Submittal of the final draft by this date will initiate the second 45-day review period and could allow a special P&Z Commission hearing to be scheduled for mid-February or early March, 2015.
  6. ACHD Public Hearing Prior to the P&Z Commission Hearing, ACHD will schedule an initial public hearing on the Master Plan and Traffic Impact Study (TIS) and the ACHD staff recommendation will be forwarded to Boise P&Z.
  7. Planning & Zoning Commission Hearing P&Z Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed Master Plan, taking into consideration comments from ACHD regarding the acceptability of the Master Plan and the TIS. The P&Z Commission will then make a recommendation to the Boise City Council.
  8. 2nd ACHD Public Hearing After the P&Z Commission has held its hearing, the ACHD Commission will hold a second public hearing for approval of the Master Plan/TIS. See ACHD Commission meeting schedules here.
  9. Boise City Council After ACHD approves the Master Plan/TIS, the Boise City Council will hold a public hearing to adopt the proposed Master Plan. See City Council and Planning & Zoning schedules here.
  10. Plan Adoption/Request for Street Closures After both the City of Boise and ACHD adopt the relevant plans, St. Luke’s may request closure of any streets for which closure was allowed in the adopted plans. An additional public hearing will be required by ACHD prior to approval of a street closure.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Neighborhood 2 Market Ride Saturday, May 9

Along with several Boise neighborhood associations, the East End participates in the Neighborhood 2 Market Ride, which encourages both cycling and walking, as well as shopping locally and supporting regional and community food producers.

Last year, EENA members gathered across the street from Roosevelt Market before riding Jefferson Street to the downtown action. Jefferson will serve as our main route to the Capital City Public Market and Boise Farmer's Market once again in 2015, starting on May 9.

N2M booth at the Market
Meet up across from Roosevelt Market
Joining other Boise riders downtown
Smart people ride Jefferson!

Connectivity and Walkability = Neighborhood Value and Desireability

Here's what REALTORS have to say about the increasing value of connectivity to their clients and industry:

Walkability Checklist: What Makes a Neighborhood Walkable

"A neighborhood’s walkability rating is based on how much on average the local populace is able to walk to and from their places of interest with minimum use of cars or other road vehicles. Walk-ability is one of the major factors buyers use in how to choose a neighborhood when purchasing a home."

“Made for Walking” author Julie Campoli describes five main pillars that are critical characteristics of walk-ability:
  • Connections: an extensive network of walking paths and expansive sidewalks that have numerous intersections throughout.
  • Tissue: Smaller buildings constructed with impressive architecture with multiple functions rather than large skyscrapers and expansive warehouse-sized buildings.
  • Density: All buildings are built very close together to accommodate walk-ability and people live in very close proximity to one another to promote a sense of community.
  • Street-scape: Streamlined streets designed with wide sidewalks to minimize walking traffic and promote business visibility.
  • Green Networks: There are many trees that line the streets and surrounding areas in addition to plenty of grassy areas and parks for recreation and relaxation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News coverage

We'll do our best to list news coverage as we can obtain links, listed from most recent to oldest. There are plenty of comments hinting at the diverse views on this topic. One note: much of the news coverage focuses on bike access, however Jefferson is equally important to all modes of travel between the East End and downtown.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Speak Up For Jefferson" video selfie challenge is on!

Show some love for access to and from the East End Neighborhood Association (EENA), Boise, ID, North End Neighborhood Association Boise Co-op, Downtown Boise Association. Boise's small-block grid is what makes our downtown walkable and bikeable.
Our Neighborhood 2 Market ride is all about connecting residents to our downtown merchants, and Jefferson is the shortest distance between those merchants and their East End customers. And it's how our friends in other neighborhoods connect to their favorite East End hangout, the Roosevelt Market Boise!
Stand up, Speak up, and Show up to share the importance of neighborhood connectivity and access.
Because access means business!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Boise, Idaho Downtown Walkability Analysis (10/13)

Boise's Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC) worked with walkability expert Jeff Speck to create a walkability study and report for Boise's amazing downtown. The following is a direct quote from the study:

"Downtown Boise benefits from a quite small block size—about 300 feet square—and almost none of these blocks have been consolidated into superblocks, which tend to decrease walkability by focusing traffic on fewer streets, causing them to become too wide. The logic of small blocks suggests that no further block consolidations should be allowed, such as the one currently considered at St. Luke’s, which will significantly undermine the effectiveness of the street grid in that location." (emphasis KBC)
See the whole study here.