Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Context and commentary from one of Boise's most respected citizen leaders

Diane Ronayne
Tonight at 5 p.m. the City Council considers St. Luke's expansion plan. Some 20 years ago, a bunch of us got together and formed the Neighborhood Alliance, which with the city's support nurtured into being dozens of neighborhood associations throughout Boise. Our purpose was to give citizens equal legal footing in the development processes that affected the value of their property and quality of their lives. I'm very proud of the way East Enders have responded to St. Luke's proposal through their neighborhood association and the ad hoc nonprofit Keep Boise Connected, Inc.

Unfortunately, the constructive give-and-take between applicant and neighbors that we worked so hard to codify in the city's planning process did not occur with this project. The applicant's attitude when making its mandatory presentation to EENA was non-negotiable in any substantial way.

If the council chooses to ignore this flawed process AND the recommendation of their own Planning and Zoning Commission to reject the proposal because it does not meet the requirements of the city’s comprehensive plan, they will set a dangerous precedent. Citizens who devote substantial time and effort to work within the system only to see its requirements for honest, constructive give-and-take ignored by policy-makers will be disillusioned and unlikely to use this avenue again. The consequences of citizen disengagement are subtle but ultimately devastating to creating the "livable city" our leaders say they want.

The council only needs to uphold the P&Z recommendation to deny this master plan application and send it back to the applicant with instructions to alter it to meet the requirements of our comprehensive plan. This project will dramatically alter the east end of downtown, cut off a neighborhood, and add thousands of vehicles to already congested intersections over 30 years. We can afford to take another six months to find an alternative with fewer negative consequences. One suggestion: Bring ACHD and Valley Ride into the process meaningfully NOW, so the parties can include mass transit/park-and-ride as part of the "moving people not cars" equation.

See more on Dian Ronayne here.

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