Boise Faces Growing Pains From West Coast Migration

As more people head to Idaho to escape cities they cannot afford, Boise is encouraging growth and also grappling with the consequences.
February 1, 2019, 2pm PST | Camille Fink
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Patrick Sisson reports on the ramping up of growth and development in Boise as more people flock to Idaho from more expensive West Coast states. The influx of new residents and businesses to Boise is fueling a construction and economic boom, but the city is also struggling to keep up.

"The most important issues for residents included housing affordability, transportation and the lack of public transit options, environmental preservation, and a government that was moving too fast to promote development," reports Sisson.

Even with new construction in the Boise area, rapidly rising housing costs will hurt current residents when they are eventually priced out of the market, notes Sisson. Smart growth advocates say the city needs to stop promoting growth to keep Boise from heading down the path of other places, like Silicon Valley, where cost of living and quality of life issues are driving people out.

City officials say they are working on affordable housing strategies and policies, including a housing trust fund and zoning revisions. "But Boise, a blue dot in a deep-red state, faces an uphill urban planning battle: With limited powers due to the state constitution’s small-government stance—the city can’t use inclusionary zoning or rent control since those are illegal, or levy a tax to pay for a much-needed expansion of local bus service—it’s hamstrung with a set of legal tools that don’t favor an active city government," says Sisson.

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Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in Curbed
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