BOISE — Idaho commercial real estate professionals are working with national representatives of NAIOP, Inc., to generate interest in establishing an Idaho chapter of the commercial real estate development association. CRE professionals will hear about the organization and its benefits during a free breakfast at Boise Center East on Tuesday, April 4.
The 501(c)6 association, which advocates for effective public policy, bills itself as “the leading organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate” and the related investment industry. It provides education, networking and advocacy for its 20,000 North American members, with opportunities to participate in legislative affairs efforts. It has 52 chapters across North America thus far.
“This breakfast is to let the market know that NAIOP is seriously interested and intends to build a chapter in Idaho,” said Diana Tucker, vice president for membership and chapter relations for NAIOP based in Herndon, VA. “We are also holding that breakfast to explore interest from the market as well, so we’ve spoken with a number of leaders who are helping us champion NAIOP.”
“Our team, along with LDK (Ventures) and Van Auker Companies have been working in the background on this for several months to get National to approve an Idaho Chapter,” said Paul Bennett, director of business development for Uprite Construction, a design build and construction management firm in Boise, with main offices in Irvine, CA.
Mark Selvitelli, NAIOP president and CEO, and Kim Snyder, 2023 chair, will discuss the association, with representatives from Boise firms Uprite Construction, LDK Ventures, and Van Auker Companies joining the panel.
To register for the free event, and for more information, contact Beth Gulding at [email protected] or phone (703) 674-1406.
Tucker said following the event, and other informational meetings, the process of incorporating the Idaho chapter will begin. Once launched, NAIOP will begin accepting Idaho members.
The association cites adaptive reuse, tax policy and regulatory policy among its legislative priorities. On the education side, it offers on-demand courses on CRE best practices, research webinars, and corporate training course packages. Members can choose individual course modules. Its Center for Education also offers certificate programs, where students earn credit for their certificates through core classes.
NAIOP’s corporate committees include those which meet over issues in business development, editorial content, education, government affairs and membership and chapter relations. It publishes reports covering such topics as industrial space demand forecasts, economic impacts of commercial real estate in the U.S. and Canada, and office space demand forecasts, among others.
Visit Boise, the tourism division of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, announced its 2023 board of directors this month. Focused on promoting tourism and enhancing Boise’s economy, Visit Boise’s board members help guide the organization’s overall strategy and serve a three-year term with the opportunity to renew for an additional term.
“Our board of directors are community-minded and bring diverse expertise within the hospitality and tourism industry, as well as our local business communities,” Carrie Westergard, executive director at Visit Boise, said. “They play an integral role in helping promote Boise as a premier destination for meetings, conventions, sporting events and leisure travel.”
Adam Altwies, general manager at the Inn at 500 Capitol, will serve as board chair. Altwies oversees daily operations of the boutique hotel as well as the financial operations. Before his current role, Altwies spent 14 years in Las Vegas managing poker rooms for a major luxury casino and resort brand.
Hart Gilchrist, vice president of safety, process improvement and operations systems with MDU Utilities Group at Intermountain Gas, will serve as chair-elect and treasurer. Gilchrist is responsible for all safety and training, pipeline safety management system and operations technology at Intermountain Gas, which serves more than one million customers across eight states.
Brad Wilson, general manager at Bogus Basin, will serve as the immediate past chair. Wilson has been part of the ski and hospitality industries for more than 30 years.
Vicki Carley, Block 22 Hotels, joined the board as a new director. Carley is Block 22 Hotels’ regional director of sales. In this role, she oversees the sales and revenues of The Grove Hotel, Hotel 43 and Courtyard by Marriott Boise Downtown. She is also on the Southwest Idaho Travel Association (SWITA) Board of Directors and the Boise Chamber Advisory Council, among others.
Facing competition in November for what would be his fifth term as mayor, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter’s annual State of the City message offered some new initiatives but primarily a reminder of the programs he had already provided.
The speech — presented Sept. 18 at the Egyptian Theatre — was thinner on plans than last year’s, which proposed affordable housing and a citizen’s initiative for local option taxing authority.
Bieter’s 2019 speech followed the themes of safety, activity, creativity and kindness and a number of them were followups to earlier successes.
The second segment, activity, primarily had to do with outdoor pursuits. Bieter touched upon the second phase of the Whitewater Park, the expansion of the zoo and a new dog park, as well as the city’s 15 existing parks.
The third segment, creativity, covered a wide variety of components, ranging from transportation to the environment. Several environmental proposals were mentioned, such as changing the name of the Boise Watershed to the Boise Climate and Water Science Center and creating a program called Boise Climate Now, though it wasn’t clear what the program would include.
Similarly, Bieter discussed a program to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips, which currently comprise 81% of vehicle trips, by 10% by 2029, as well as continuing to critique the Idaho Legislature for not giving most Idaho cities local option taxing authority, which could fund public transit.
Following up on an April Boise City Council vote to move the city’s electricity to 100% renewable sources by 2035, Bieter said the city would be purchasing five electric garbage trucks, as well as eight more electric buses. He also plans to meet with businesses later this month to develop plans to reduce plastic waste, much like a similar program for consumers earlier this year.
The homeless – particularly homeless families – attracted particular attention. Boise has 166 homeless families, and it would take $6,000 per family to house them, Bieter said, though he didn’t provide the source for the figures. But those were achievable figures, he insisted. Other programs for the homeless that drew mention included Valor Pointe, a project for homeless veterans, and Our Path Home, a project intended for the chronically homeless.
Bieter also discussed one of the programs from last year’s speech, a housing land trust of $20 million to preserve and protect housing affordability that hasn’t made much progress since then. While not committing to a specific amount this year, Bieter said he planned to meet with a number of the city’s banks, which he didn’t name, to come up with a plan to fund the program.
The fourth aspect, kindness, was originally brought up during last year’s State of the City speech. In the past year, Bieter created a number of programs to promote the city’s reputation for kindness. Those programs have had an effect, he said, noting that people ranging from singer Garth Brooks to new Boise State President Marlene Tromp have alluded to it.
Bieter also didn’t directly address his mayoral campaign, nor that of opponent Lauren McLean, who serves as Boise City Council president. He did say, when people ask him why he wants to continue, that being mayor is the “greatest job in the world.”
Boise City Council President Lauren McLean raised some eyebrows in May when she announced that she was challenging four-term Boise mayor Dave Bieter for the 2020 election. McLean was appointed by Bieter, with Council approval, in 2010.
But McLean argues that it is time for a mayor who can take a fresh look at Boise’s challenges, particularly related to growth.
We sat down with McLean to learn more about her campaign and what it could mean for business.
What led you to decide to run for mayor?
In listening session after listening session across the city in April, I was hearing so many concerns and worries about the rising cost of living, the lack of affordable housing, an increase in traffic and congestion with no clear plan with how to deal with it, and an overall concern that citizens were feeling left out of the process and shut out of the decisionmaking in decisions about our future. So when faced with all this, I felt it was time for someone with new energy and new ideas and a proven ability to bring people together to step up and offer solutions.
Couldn’t you do that from your position as Council member and president?
As mayor, you set the tone and agenda for the city, and the Council often responds to that. We need a leader who will build new relationships, walk away from old grudges that have existed for too long and engage the public in authentic ways around a discussion about our future, and that’s what the mayor’s office should do and can do.
What led you to run now instead of waiting for an open seat?
Sixteen years is a long time for someone to be in office. With the weight of the problems that have grown in Boise, sitting back and waiting another four years wasn’t the right thing for our residents. So I made the tough decision, rather late, to jump in. I saw a need and decided it was time.
How’s it working out for you?
We have over 260 volunteers. We have held over 30 big Boise listening tours that attract, on any given day, at least 20 people and sometimes 50 to 60 people. Young people are jumping in and getting engaged. People are talking about the future of our community. It’s been a humbling experience thus far.
You have a background ranging from conservation and open space to urban renewal. What will be your priorities?
My platform is online. My priority will be to restart relationships, with what is truly a new generation of leaders throughout this valley to come up with an actionable plan for public transportation. And to focus on more, new, bolder affordable housing solutions. But of course, with my background in conservation, and a long history in advocating for climate-friendly policies that build economies, issues of conservation, clean water, open spaces and clean energy will run throughout. In a 21st-century city, it’s imperative that we seek the opportunities that innovation around climate could bring us. That impacts the affordability of homes, everyone’s pocketbooks and economic opportunity in the long run.
What’s your plan for business?
The Brookings Institution report on Boise provided a great roadmap for building a strong 21st-century economy that allows everyone to participate in our valley’s prosperity. I met with the researchers and the takeaways were clear: We need to work as a region, to invest in affordable housing, transportation, child care, pre-K and education through college and beyond to create opportunity for our residents, while focusing on supporting and building homegrown businesses, and being strategic in the companies we recruit and insisting that they are committed to investing in our people, rather than seeking handouts and cheap labor.
Aren’t some of these items, like transportation and education, handled by the state?
The importance then reflects back on a mayor convening leaders from various sectors to have those conversations. Those topics can be addressed locally and regionally through partnerships with the school district, bringing pre-K to all neighborhood schools, through developing a shared vision around how we move residents from their homes to their jobs. The stronger the relationships that are built, the more likely it is that a vision can be shared and solutions dreamed up. With that partnership regionally, I know that we can work with the state to partner as well.
How would you fund this?
The decisions we make from a budget perspective reflect our values. The city has been a partner with local pre-K initiatives. It’s necessary now to have a conversation about how we can afford to provide that for all neighborhoods. Results are clear that having access to good pre-K puts you on a path toward prosperity. For transportation and other issues, it’s a conversation we all have to have. For 16 years, leaders have been fighting for local option tax with no results. So now it’s most important that, regionally, we agree on what we need and then have the conversation about the various ways that funding could make that a reality.
In coordinated announcements, the city of Boise and Idaho Power each announced intentions to move away from carbon-based energy sources such as oil and gas, though for each of them it will be decades away.
Idaho Power announced on March 26 a goal to provide 100% clean energy by 2045. The Boise City Council voted on April 2 to adopt a plan to move the city’s electricity to 100% renewable sources by 2035.
As of December, 100 cities and towns had committed to using 100% renewable energy, according to the Sierra Club, which has been spearheading the effort.
The commitments are to some degree aspirational; neither Boise nor Idaho Power will be punished if they fail to meet their goals. This is particularly true because the commitments are predicated on technological breakthroughs, such as improved battery storage, happening in the meantime.
On the other hand, research from organizations such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance has recently found that batteries collocated with solar and wind projects are starting to compete on a cost basis with coal- and gas-fired generation, said Ben Otto, energy associate for the Idaho Conservation League.
That said, in the meantime Idaho Power has reached agreements to stop using coal-fired generators in Wyoming and Nevada, and to buy up to 120 MW of power from Jackpot Holdings, which is building a solar field scheduled to be constructed near Twin Falls by 2022, said Darrel Anderson, CEO. The likely scenario is that it will be out of its final coal-fired plant by the mid 2030s, he said.
While Idaho Power hasn’t announced plans to shut down its gas-fired Langley Gulch power plant, in New Plymouth, it will be nearing the end of its useful life by the deadline anyway, Anderson said.
Though other utilities committed to 100% renewable energy before Idaho Power, it is still among the first, and the first in the Northwest, according to Zack Waterman, state director for the Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club. Moreover, those other utilities are in states with renewable portfolio standards, while Idaho Power is responding to customer demand, he said.
While the Boise and Idaho Power announcements were coordinated, they differ on a couple of points. First, Boise committed to 100% “renewable sources” by 2035, while Idaho Power committed to 100% “clean energy” by 2045.
“From a policy perspective, we don’t view [nuclear power] as renewable,” said Steve Burgos, public works director for the city of Boise. “It’s not something we considered, because it doesn’t exist within the service.”
Another major power company, Avista — which services North Idaho as far south as Grangeville — worked with Spokane last year on its 100% renewable energy goal, which the city adopted in August, but stopped short of making such a commitment itself. However, like Idaho Power, the company already generates more than half its electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, solar, wind and biomass, and has started several renewable energy projects in recent months, said Jason Thackston, senior vice president of energy resources for the Spokane-based company.
In some states, such as Wyoming, legislatures have taken steps to keep utilities from stopping using coal, and the Idaho Legislature has limited cities from making other environmental regulations such as eliminating plastic bags. However, nothing’s been said thus far about the Idaho Legislature stepping in. “Idaho Power is making this announcement because it’s what customers are demanding,” Otto said. If the Legislature wants to get involved in the business decisions of the biggest company in the state, “they can have a field day,” he said.
Lime dockless scooters were sidelined in Meridian until March, but Lime and Bird are launching their scooter fleets in Boise on Oct. 18.
Each provider will put out the maximum 250 allowed by the city, said Lime’s Aaron Kindall and Bird’s Mackenzie Long.
Unlike many other cities, where dockless bikes and scooters are parked pretty much everywhere, Boise established an ordinance limiting scooter parking to designated areas.
“Devices should never be left on private property, in the right of way or in any location that obstructs the pathways for pedestrians, bicyclists or motorists,” the city noted on its livboise.org website. “Lime charges users $50 for leaving devices in undesignated areas.”
The city, however, has not determined specific scooter parking prohibitions.
“We’re not going to know a lot about where people can and can’t park until we see where people park them,” said Mike Journee, city spokesman.
The city will collaborate with Lime and Bird to better determine off-limits zones based on scooter usage in the opening weeks and months. Each provider’s mobile apps will have parking restriction notifications.
“Obviously, it’s a priority to keep sidewalks clear,” Journee said. “We don’t want them to be (parked) on the Greenbelt. We don’t want them in rights of way or blocking handicapped access. Boise State doesn’t want them in the quad area.”
The city, Lime and Bird will have three educational events about dockless scooter usage at noon on Oct. 15 at City Hall Plaza; at 3 p.m. on Oct. 16 at Julia Davis Park Rotary Plaza; and at 6 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Esther Simplot Park Central Pavilion.
Lime and Bird are each limited to 250 scooters in Boise and must have a minimum of 50, according to city ordinance.
The e-scooters may be used on streets, sidewalks and crosswalks, in bike lanes and on 25 miles of Greenbelt managed by the city of Boise.
Lime fell afoul of Meridian’s regulation, introducing 200 scooters on Sept. 27 and withdrawing them Oct. 2 at the city of Meridian’s request. The city said Lime failed to do the required public outreach program; find parking locations that met city conditions; and speak with private property owners to arrange additional parking areas. Meridian put dockless scooters/bicycles on hold until mid-March.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 15.
Boise’s three major problems are transportation, housing and the environment, said Mayor David Bieter during his State of the City message on Sept. 12, and he had proposals to address each of them. But more than anything else, he wanted to ensure that Boise remains kind, he said, speaking at the Morrison Center on the Boise State University campus.
“In the transportation future we imagine, what do we see?” Bieter asked. “Don’t we all see clean, convenient transit?” But Boise, and the rest of Idaho, are stymied due to a lack of funding, he said. Idaho is one of the few states that doesn’t provide for local option taxing authority, which allows citizens of a region to vote to tax themselves to raise money for funds for items such as transit.
Using as a model the proposals on the November ballot to expand Medicaid and to allow historic horse racing terminals at racetracks, Bieter proposed a citizen initiative. “We should band together statewide and get the signatures for a local option in 2020,” he said. “We need to start this November. Transit needs funding, and local option is the way.”
For housing, Bieter noted that Boise is predicted to gain 50,000 new residents over the next 20 years, which would require 20,000 new housing units, or about 1,000 a year. He proposed five ways to increase Boise housing:
Establish a housing land trust of $20 million to preserve and protect housing affordability.
Offer incentives to developers, similar to the Downtown Housing Incentive Program, to develop rental housing that is affordable to 80 percent or below the median household income.
Leverage public and private land to create mixed use, mixed-income projects.
Change zoning and land use rules in what appeared to be a call to increase density.
Work with Capital City Development Corp. and other organizations to develop housing projects within urban renewal districts.
“Given the rapid growth in housing prices and rents over the past few years, IHFA welcomes the opportunity to partner with the City of Boise to expand affordable housing opportunities,” said Gerald Hunter, president of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, a Boise-based organization that promotes affordable housing. “Without these critical public-private partnerships, our communities will simply not be successful in addressing our future workforce housing needs.”
For the environment, Bieter called for no longer annexing or rezoning property to allow new development in the Foothills, after the approximately 400 lots that had already been allowed under existing zoning. “Instead, new development should go to those areas called for under Blueprint Boise, along transit corridors and through infill,” he said.
In addition, Bieter said that the city of Boise’s facilities and operations would be 100 percent powered by renewable electricity by the year 2030. He did not provide specifics about how this would occur or what types of electricity he would consider renewable. Boise is already the only city in the country that powers some of its city buildings through geothermal energy, while Idaho Power reports that more than half of its electricity comes from renewable sources such as water, solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.
Bieter also exhorted Boise citizens to continue to be kind, noting that he was overwhelmed by the support city residents offered to the victims and their families after a mass stabbing in July. He also asked that people say hello to strangers and let people into traffic. With that level of kindness, Boise would truly be the most livable city in the country, he said.
In addition, Bieter praised his administration for opening 15 parks, reserves and golf courses, four branch libraries, three community centers, eight new or remodeled fire stations, and a number of other city amenities since 2004. “Many of these projects had been planned for decades and backlogged, waiting for years to be completed,” he said.
With Idaho simultaneously the nation’s fastest-growing state, but stuck at No. 36 for housing affordability, there is an increasing need for affordable multifamily housing, particularly in the fast-growing Treasure Valley and resort communities such as McCall.
“Affordable multifamily housing” means something different in each city. (See box.) Boise, though Treasure Valley’s largest and arguably most expensive city, has one advantage. It owns and operates its own rental housing portfolio of more than 300 units in 48 locations, said AnaMarie Guiles, housing & community development manager. It tends to serve households earning 50 percent or less of the median income, currently $64,300, she said.
Owning land or bringing money to the table also gives Boise more leverage with developers, Guiles said. “Boise was a partner, so we were able to say to the developer, ‘We will be a partner, but some of it has to be subsidized,’” she said. Funding for affordable housing is always an issue. (See box.)
With improvements in the economy, Garden City – home to several trailer parks, some of which have been displaced by new construction – hasn’t had an affordable multifamily project since Trailwinds in 2015, said Jenah Thornborrow, director of development services. “Garden City has traditionally had a larger share, proportionally, of affordable housing stock within the Treasure Valley,” she said. “I would suspect that that is still fairly constant, but it’s not meeting everyone’s needs.”
Similarly, while Nampa has eight multifamily housing projects underway, only two – intended for senior citizens – are technically “affordable,” said Karla Nelson, community planner.
Housing projects in McCall tend to be created for workforce. Eighty-two percent of McCall employees live outside the city and commute, because only 27 percent of housing units in McCall are owner-occupied, with 73 percent vacant due to second homes and vacation rentals, said Michelle Groenevelt, community and economic development director.
“The city lacks at least 700 units for the local workforce based on current household incomes,” she said. “There are even more units needed when commuters are considered.” The last housing development with an income qualification, the 72-unit The Springs, was built in 2016, she said.
“A never-ending question in mountain communities is how you provide affordable workforce housing,” said Andrew Mentzer, executive director of the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council.
Mentzer is collaborating with partners to pull together resources in this area – starting with landowners who might have a tract of land they’d be willing to develop but don’t know how, he said. This would be for deed-restricted housing – in other words, some legal instrument requiring occupants who live and work in the area. The type of help available could include aid to someone needing help finishing a studio above the garage for an accessory dwelling unit, all the way to multiple-acre, multiple-unit developments, he said.
“The challenge is a lot of the silos that exist in the development space scare people off,” Mentzer said. “Whether you’re a seasoned or a ‘shade tree’ developer, there are places in the process where you get dissuaded from doing a project.”
Idaho’s more expensive areas include the city of Boise, Blaine, Teton, and Gem counties and Coeur d’Alene. The largest gaps between the housing wage and average renter wage exist in smaller communities such as Bear Lake, Boise, Fremont, Latah, Lemhi, Valley, and Washington counties, according to a report from the Idaho Asset Building Network. The school district in Blaine County is now considering a proposal to build housing geared to teachers.
Several cities are changing zoning codes to encourage multifamily affordable housing. Caldwell amended its codes in 2005 to allow for mixed-use development with commercial on the ground floor and residential above, particularly downtown, said Brian Billingsley, planning & zoning director for Caldwell. His challenge at this point is setting up a quiet zone to keep the hourly trains from blowing their horns. “It’s taking forever to get that accomplished,” he said. “Developers are hesitant to build a project downtown until that’s a reality.”
In Melba, where the Canyon County city changed its zoning in 2016 to allow for housing in its commercial area, developers have been looking downtown for possible multifamily projects, said Noni Stapleton, city clerk/treasurer. She doesn’t know if any are considering affordable housing.
Other cities are looking at incentives to encourage developers to construct affordable multifamily housing.
“We don’t have a lot of tools to deal specifically with affordability, but we have tools to build higher-density housing,” said Hal Simmons, Boise’s planning director. The city is considering adding density bonuses for affordable housing in the future, but density runs into community opposition. “We have some pretty heated public hearings about density,” he said, though he pointed out, “There’s nobody who hasn’t lived in an apartment project sometime and needed housing on the affordable side.”
Meridian is looking at incentives for more dense, infill projects to provide affordable workforce housing, said Caleb Hood, planning division manager. But there are no specific affordable housing projects underway, he said.
And some cities, such as Kuna and Caldwell, are just getting off the ground with multifamily housing. “We didn’t issue a single multifamily dwelling unit permit from 2008 until 2016,” said Troy Behunin, senior planner. While the city now has several multifamily projects underway, only one is affordable, a five-building, 10-unit project. Two existing projects – White Barn, and Leisure Village, intended for senior citizens – are affordable, said Wendy Howell, planning and zoning director.
“Our busiest year for permits was 2006,” when Caldwell had 1,100, Billingsley said. “Every single one was for a single-family dwelling.”
When is “affordable” not “affordable?”
Part of the problem with talking about “affordable housing” is defining “affordable.”
Certainly, due to land prices and demographic factors, an apartment in Kuna or Melba or Middleton might cost less than a similar apartment in downtown Boise. “Even if apartments are the same money per month, they don’t have to worry about maintenance, upkeep, insurance, and, and, and,” said Troy Behunin, senior planner for Kuna.
“Market-rate rents in Nampa have tended to be more affordable than in many of our neighboring communities,” said Karla Nelson, community planner.
But that doesn’t technically make it “affordable housing.”
Affordable housing is defined by the federal government as housing geared toward people earning 80 percent of less of median income, as defined each year by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said AnaMarie Guiles, housing & community development manager for Boise. “For us, a median income is $64,300 for a four-person household,” meaning $51,440 as the threshold for subsidies by the federal government or a municipality.
But due to stigma around the term “affordable housing,” over the past couple of years cities have started using the term “housing affordability” for all demographics, Guiles said. And that can cause confusion.
“We don’t have anything actually called ‘affordable housing,’” said Noni Stapleton, city clerk/treasurer for Melba, in Canyon County. “We’re really small, with only a population of 500. The city limits are very small – 6 blocks wide and 12 blocks long.” The city has two triplexes downtown, built in the late 1990s, that aren’t deemed affordable housing, most rented by dairy farmers for their workers. There are also eight Section 8 units run by Southwestern Idaho Cooperative Housing Authority that date from 1995.
Similarly, Middleton has five apartment complexes “that are always full,” said Mayor Darin Taylor. The city has approved 12 fourplexes, six of which are under construction to open in 2018, but none built with government subsidies,
“We need to break down what we mean by ‘affordable housing,’” said Wyatt Schroeder, executive director of Catch Inc., with offices in Boise and Nampa. “Workforce housing for our firefighters and teachers? Senior developments so people can age in place where it’s safe?” Disabled people who need services also deserve housing, he said. “Too often, we talk very broadly, without defining what those mean and what they look like.”
Alejandra Cerna Rios, policy analyst at the Idaho Asset Building Network, said that in seven of eight metropolitan areas in Idaho and in 36 of its 44 counties, the ‘housing wage’ – or the hourly wage needed to spend no more than 30 percent of household income on rent and utilities on a two-bedroom unit at fair market rent- exceeds typical renter earnings.
In Idaho, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $803 per month, Cerna Rios said. To cover rent and utilities for a two-bedroom rental without spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs, an Idaho household must earn $32,122 annually, or $15.44 per hour, she said. On average, Idaho renters earn $12.19 per hour, she said. Occupations that earn less than the wage needed to pay for housing include ambulance drivers, bank tellers, child care workers, servers, home health aides, preschool teachers, nursing assistants, customer service representatives, and bus drivers.
No local funding tools for affordable multifamily housing
Compared with other states, Idaho lacks tools to develop affordable multifamily housing, said AnaMarie Guiles, housing and community development manager for Boise.
For example, the Federal Housing Trust Fund was created by Congress in 2008 to support the development and operations of housing for households earning up to 30 percent of the Area Median Income. However, those trust funds are funded by the individual states. Idaho is one of three states, along with Alabama and Rhode Island, that has not yet appropriated any money for the fund, let alone identified a continuing revenue source, according to the Center for Community Change’s Housing Trust Fund project.
Similarly, while some cities had enacted affordable housing ordinances that charged developers fees to help fund affordable housing, lawsuits in McCall and Sun Valley in 2008 ruled them an illegal tax. A similar ordinance in Ketchum is in litigation.
As one of Idaho’s resort cities with a population under 10,000, McCall has the advantage of local option taxing authority. Voters recently passed a local option tax that includes local housing as an eligible option for funding, said Michelle Groenevelt, community and economic development director.
Affordable projects in the Treasure Valley
New Path Community Housing
Address: 2200 W. Fairview Avenue
41 Units (including one manager unit)
Developer: Thomas Development Co., The Pacific Companies, and Northwest Integrity Housing Co. (NIHC)
Architect: Erstad Architects
Cost: $7.5 million
Address: 2403-2419 W. Fairview Avenue
134 Units (including one manager unit)
Mix of incomes and bedroom-types (121 affordable units)
Developer: Thomas Development Co. and Northwest Integrity Housing (NIHC)
Architect: Erstad Architects
Cost: $28.5 million
Vineyard at Eagle Promenade
Address: 10482 W. Utahna Road
30 Units (including one manager unit)
Affordable Senior (55+)
Developer: New Beginnings Housing, LLC
Architect: The Architects Office
Cost: $5.9 million
Vineyard at Sycamore Place
Address: 817 Fillmore Street
Senior community of 35,000 square feet, including community areas, with one-bedroom and two-bedroom units from $340-$775 monthly, to be available July 1
Developer: New Beginnings Housing
Architect: Mark Sanders, The Architects Office
Builder: Wright Brothers The Building Co., Eagle
Cost: $6.5 million
Address: 20-35 W. Flyline Lane
Developer: The Housing Company
Architect: The Architects Office
Vineyard Suites on the Boulevard
Address: 888 W. Corporate
50 units restricted to senior households. Available by summer 2019.
Developer: Wright Brothers The Building Company
Architect: Mark Sanders with The Architects Office
Cost: $10 million
Address: 1615 8th
All rents at or below 55 percent of area median income. Start construction early July 2018, first units coming online July of 2019.
Builder: CSDI Construction, Inc
Architect: Hutchinson Smith Architects
Cost: Declined to state
With population growth comes a need for new parks, fire stations, walking trails, and other amenities. Cities use impact fees to pay for them – ranging in Idaho from $2,000 to more than $5,000 for a new single-family home.
Idaho allows impact fees to be charged on residential and commercial development specifically for parks, fire, police and streets. Other states allow impact fees for schools, sewer and water, libraries, cultural facilities and other things. In Idaho, a cousin to impact fees – hook-up fees – cover sewer and water extensions into new subdivisions.
Impact fees are charged to developers but are typically borne by homebuyers. Impact fees of varying rates are also charged on apartments and other living dwellings as well as commercial structures.
Impact fees may sound like just a multi-thousand-dollar government penalty for buying a new home, but there are specific rules and limitations on how much jurisdictions can charge and how the money can be used, said Anne Wescott, a Boise impact fee consultant who was worked with 50 jurisdictions in the Intermountain West including several in the Treasure Valley.
“Impact fees are only about the capital side for infrastructure necessitated by growth,” she said. “Is it needed to serve growth? If not, it’s not eligible.”
Impact fees can pay for a fire station, a park, or a police station – but not for operations or maintenance. Impact fees can pay the entire cost or a fraction of the cost, depending on how much a given project is specifically defined as driven by growth vs. just the need of the existing city.
“The key piece of impact law is proportionalize,” Wescott said.
Jurisdictions – mostly cities but also districts such as Ada County Highway District – establish a list of projects to fund with impact fees and how much those projects are driven by growth to determine what the impact fees will be.
“It is third grade math, the cost of a capital project necessitated by growth divided by the new households,” Wescott said.
The impact fees are determined collaboratively between the city and development community.
Impact fees are overseen by advisory committees typically composed of developers, though in Boise’s case developers are joined by real estate agents, citizens at large, and utility representatives that make impact fee recommendations to the City Council.
“(The advisory committee members) feel we are doing it transparently and have a fair rate structure,” Boise Chief of Staff Jade Riley said.
Idaho cities typically require developers to pay for all the streets, parks and utility installation within their housing developments. The impact fees are generally for police, fire, park or street facilities outside a development but that are made necessary, at least in part, by new developments and population growth.
Many of the growing mid-size and larger cities in Idaho have impact fees.
Parks carry the largest impact fee charged by the city of Meridian, though Ada County Highway District’s impact fee more than doubles the total charged for a newly built single-family home in Meridian: $4,973.
ACHD charges $2,956 across Ada County. Meridian’s park impact fee is $1,113, while fire is $681 and police is $223. The parks impact fee was the first one in Meridian in 1996 with police and fire following in 2006, said Todd Lavoie, Meridian’s chief financial officer.
“The citizens made it very clear they love our parks,” Lavoie said.
Meridian used $6 million in parks impact fees in the past four years to build Reta Huskey Park, Hillsdale Park and Keith Bird Legacy Park – all in newly developed sections of Meridian – and will develop a 77-acre park site provisionally called “77 South.”
“That’s $6 million we didn’t have to collect property taxes from our city taxpayers,” Lavoie said. “Our property tax levy rate has gone down every year and we can thank impact fees for that.”
Parks are often the largest impact fee. Outdoor recreation is a priority across Idaho and city leaders are attuned to the need for parks to keep up with growth and impact fees are the practical way to fund them, impact fee consultant Anne Wescott said.
“Parks are expensive,” Wescott said. “Treasure Valley parks are directly related to quality of life. We want to be within a mile of a park. There is no way out of the general fund to fund them.”
Meridian applied $500,000 in police impact fees to a new $3.76 million public safety training complex that opened in September 2015. That’s proportionality at play: Growth is calculated to account for a 13 percent share of the cost to build the training complex.
Impact fees allowed Twin Falls to fill the last missing 1.4-mile link of the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail that opened in 2017.
That stretch from Pole Line Road and Eastland Drive to the Evel Knievel jump site now gives Twin Falls a 7.5-mile continuous trail from the city-owned Shoshone Falls Park at the east edge of the city to Washington Street near the west edge.
“It changes the use of the trail significantly,” Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Davis said. “It creates easier access to views of the falls without having to sit in lines of traffic (to drive down to Shoshone Falls). In Idaho and in Twin Falls, a lot of people come to Idaho for outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Twin Falls had pieced the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail together over 24 years, starting in 1994 with the first .47 mile section near Canyon Springs Road. Numerous individual segments were eventually tied together with expansions in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2105 – but a gap remained until 2017.
Twin Falls started charging impact fees in August 2009 at $1,606 per single-family home. The rate has been increased four times since to the current $2,137, said Mitch Humble, Twin Falls deputy city manager of community development.
The impact fees are broken down to $301 for police, $670 for fire, $534 for streets and $632 for community parks. Twin Falls saw a 3.8 percent increase in impact fees in April, the largest increase, to fund portions of the main police station remodel and expansion into the old city hall space, building a new fire station and build a new community park, Humble said.
The police impact fee paid $900,000 of the $3.5 million main police station remodel and expansion. The parks impact fee paid the full cost of the $800,000 Snake River Canyon Rim trail segment. The street impact fee could fully pay for another new traffic signal, Humble said.
“For us, the impact fees have been helpful,” Humble said. “They helped us put up traffic signals we would not have been able to do.”
Twin Falls has collected $6.1 million in impact fees since 2009. The city has collected 25 percent less over those nine years than Humble originally expected because right after impact fees started, new home construction plummeted with the recession.
“We have not had the growth we thought we would,” he said.
Before the 2008 recession, Twin Falls issued some 550 building permits a year. Since then, the highest has been 236 permits.
Nampa started impact fees in 2007 for streets, parks, fire, police that currently add up to $1,806 for a single-family home.
The breakdown is $1,242 for parks, $185 for fire, $379 for streets with no current impact fee for police because of a surplus of unused impact fees in that account, said Patrick Sullivan, Nampa’s director of building safety and facilities development.
Nampa collected $1.658 million in impact fees in fiscal 2017 and $1.1 million in fiscal 2018. The city expects to collect $4.86 million in street impact fees in the next 10 years, $6.3 million in parks impact fees and $1.1 million in fire impact fees, Sullivan said.
“We go through the next 10 years,” Sullivan said. “What are the capital improvements attributable to growth?”
Impact fees will fully pay for 47 acres of Nampa park development over the next 10 years, including the 28.2 acres for Ora Brandt Park now under construction, he said.
Impact fees paid about two-thirds of the cost for the police department’s mobile command unit and the full cost of five Chevrolet Tahoe SUV’s and a SWAT transport vehicle that are attributable to population growth. Impact fees will pay for a new Fire Station 6 and a variety of street intersection improvements, bridges and culverts.
“Impact fees have met all the needs of growth,” Sullivan said. “They are able to pay for all the projects identified in the capital improvement plan. If we didn’t have impact fees, the burden of fire, police, parks and streets would fall solely on tax revenue. If we didn’t have impact fees, we’d have to pull more from the general fund.”
Idaho Falls and Pocatello
Idaho Falls does not have impact fees nor are they currently under consideration, said Kerry Beutler, assistant planning director in Idaho Falls.
“Developers pay for whatever they expect in utility work in sewer, power, roads as well,” Beutler said. “We have discussions coming up every once in a while about (impact fees for) parks and open space.”
The city of Pocatello does not have impact fees but does require various construction related fees be paid depending on the scope of a project. Capacity and connection fees are also charged for connection into the City’s water and sanitary sewer system, city spokesman Logan McDougall said.
As the state’s largest city, Boise’s impact fee for single-family residential varies across the city with a wide range of park impact fees depending on where a housing development is placed.
If existing parks are near a development, the parks impact fee can be as low as $279, while developers (ultimately homeowners) at the fringes with no parks nearby could see a parks impact fee as high as $1,193.
The total impact fee on a single-family home in Boise ranges from $4,305 to $5,498, based on the seven park zones that Boise uses. The city of Boise imposes $509 in fire impact fees and $235 in police impact fees and he Ada County Highway District adds a $2,956 street impact fee.
The city has collected $31 million in impact fees since collecting the park fee in 1994 and adding police and fire impact fees in 2008, city Chief of Staff Jade Riley said.
“Anything associated with pure growth we have been able to capture that with impact fees,” Riley said. “We believe in a capital perspective and equipment perspective, one-time capital costs, we feel our impact fee program has been very successful. “
Impact fees paid for the construction of Charles F. McDevitt Sportsplex, Optimist Park, Borah Park picnic shelter, Veterans Park shelter, Peppermint Park, Warm Springs Park restroom, Marianne Williams Park, Boise River Greenbelt widening and Oregon Trail extension.
Impact fees paid $422,877 of the $635,353 purchase price of the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve and another $422,000 to pave the parking lot in recent years.
The fire impact fee bought a brush truck and fire engine for a Harris Ranch fire station, the construction of which was 71 percent covered with $2 million in impact fees, which will also be used to build a northwest fire station.
About $1.8 million has been collected in police impact fees, which will go toward construction of or buying a building for a downtown police station.
The last fiscal year collected $3.1 million in impact fees for fire, police and parks combined. Impact fees will increase 1 to 2 percent in October, Riley said.
Meridian is the 10th fastest-growing city in the United States among cities with at least 50,000 residents behind five Texas cities and suburbs of Phoenix, Denver, Nashville and Des Moines, according to the U.S. Census bureau’s annual estimate of city populations.
The Census pegs Meridian at 99,926, as of July 1. Since that time, however, Meridian has added an estimated 22 residents per day to get closer to the 106,410 estimated on April 1 by the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho.
The official national population estimate tapped by all sorts of entities when mentioning population will keep Meridian below 100,000 for at least one more year.
The Census calculated a 4.6 percent population gain for Meridian in the one year up to July 1, more than four times the 1.0 percent growth across 287 cities in the western states with a population above 50,000. Bend, Oregon, ranked as the 12th fastest growing city at 4.3 percent, reaching 94,570 residents.
Frisco and New Braunfels, both in Texas, at 8.2 percent and 8.0 percent population growth for the year July to July, respectively, were the nation’s two fastest growing cities, according to the Census. COMPASS calculated 8.5 percent growth for Meridian for April to April.
The population and percentage differences between the Census and COMPASS don’t concern Boise Valley Economic Partnership researcher Ethan Mansfield much.
“If it’s off by 5,000, it’s not a big deal,” Mansfield said. “The Census may be slightly less accurate and less timely. My thought is these are all estimates anyway. And, frankly, that’s what COMPASS is doing as well. BVEP always uses Census numbers. (Clients) can fact check Census numbers. We can compare them across every region of the U.S.”
The Census has Nampa at 93,590 with COMPASS’s count nine months later at 98,370. Boise is at 226,570 with 1.4 percent growth over the prior year, according to the Census Bureau, and COMPASS has Boise at 232,300.
In Idaho, however, Post Falls had the fastest growth rate among larger cities at 5.6 percent, reaching 33,290 residents on July 1, according to the Census, a 1,757 person increase from 2016.
Post Falls passed Lewiston from 2016 to 2017 to become Idaho’s ninth largest city. Post Falls has been Idaho’s second fastest growing city behind Meridian since 2010, according to the Census,
Among Idaho’s other larger cities, the 2017 population estimate for Idaho Falls is 61,077, Pocatello is 55,193, Caldwell is 54,660, Coeur d’Alene is 50,665, Twin Falls is 49,202, Post Falls is 33,290 and Lewiston is 32,820.
In other sizeable Idaho cities, Eagle has 26,089 residents, Kuna 19,210, Garden City 11,890, Moscow 25,146, Chubbuck 14,869 and Ammon 15,540.
The 2.1 percent one-year population growth in Twin Falls doesn’t tell the whole story, city officials said.
“There is so much daily influx of people requiring services that don’t live here and don’t pay taxes here,” Mayor Shawn Barigar said.
Twin Falls has a service area of 250,000 to 300,000 people stretching from Elko to as far away as Stanley for retail, advanced medical care and education, Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler said.
“Any given day, our population increases 70 percent to 85,000 (with people coming into town for the day),” Rothweiler said. “Twin Falls has 77 sworn police officers. The city has determined that 48 percent of traffic citations are issued to visitors and 27 percent of paramedic calls are for visitors.”
Housing is not booming as it was in the early 2000s
In the same fastest-growing cities news release, the Census Bureau also addressed housing unit growth since the 2010 Census. All the more populated counties in Idaho and across the western states added homes in the top “more than 5 percent” category. Custer, Power and Shoshone were the only Idaho counties that did not add at least 2 percent to their housing stocks.
Comparing the housing boom of 2000 to 2007 to the recovery and ascending years of 2010 to 2017, however, the Census has Idaho’s more populated counties at the bottom of the chart with today’s housing production at least 5 percent lower than the early 21st century.
Clark and Minidoka were the only Idaho counties producing at least 2 percent more homes now than in 2000 to 2007. Nearby Elko and Lander counties in northern Nevada were the only counties in the seven westernmost states that built more than 5 percent the number of homes in the 2010s than in the 2000s.
Population growth 2010 to 2017
The population growth rate in Idaho’s 10 largest cities from 2010 to 2017
Meridian: 31.0 percent
Post Falls 20.0 percent
Caldwell: 18.1 percent
Coeur d’Alene: 14.7 percent
Nampa: 14.4 percent
Twin Falls: 11.1 percent
Boise: 8.7 percent
Idaho Falls: 7.0 percent
Lewiston: 2.9 percent
Pocatello: 1.8 percent
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Skateboarders and kayakers already have their specialty parks in Boise, and now Boise Parks & Recreation is focusing on mountain bikers.
A bike skills park with tracks, rollers and other skill elements for mountain bikers will be built between Fort Boise Park and Military Reserve Park in an area that now serves as a dog off-leash area, according to a city news release.
A new off-leash park will be built next to the bike skills park, and the archery range now at the site of the future off-leash park site will be relocated.
The bike skills and off-leash parks will be planned, designed and built by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation with the city paying $250,000 for the dog park and the foundation absorbing the cost of the bike skills park. Upon completion, the park will be donated to the city.
“Like Rhodes Park and the Boise Whitewater Park, we look forward to working in conjunction with the city of Boise to bring this idea to life for mountain bikers of all ages and abilities to enjoy,” said Roger Quarles, executive director of the Albertson foundation, in a news release.
A construction start date has not been set.
“Interest in mountain biking and recreational opportunities throughout our Ridge to Rivers Trail System continues to grow and our team will work to integrate this project into the surrounding neighborhood and reserve,” said Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks & Recreation in a news release.
The city council approved a development agreement with the foundation March 13.
Parking meters will need to be fed on Saturdays for the first time in downtown Boise starting Feb. 1, pending city council approval, the city of Boise announced.
Parking meter rates also will increase, as will parking tickets, and parking meter payments will be enforced until 8 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
The good news: the free first 20 minutes at parking meters will remain.
The bad news: holders of unpaid parking tickets will be dinged with a $15 late fee every six months until they are paid.
The Boise City Council still needs to approve the changes. That’s expected in late November or early December, city spokesman Mike Journee said.
Parking has become an important and charged puzzle for the city to solve since Boise started growing rapidly after the recession years. There are large waiting lists at the city-owned parking garages. Several new office buildings and
multifamily projects in the compact downtown area have greatly increased traffic over the last few years, and the population of the state and the Treasure Valley is increasing rapidly in general, which also adds to the number of visitors downtown. Dan Balluff, the owner of the City Peanut Shop downtown, said he had noticed a sharp increase in visitors starting last spring.
“I have noticed a huge uptick in the number of visitors from out of state that come into my store who are exploring moving here, or they came to explore from Portland or Spokane or L.A. or somewhere just for a three-day weekend,” Balluff said. He added that the city needs to raise the prices for parking to pay for parking alternatives.
“The city has to fund the building of new structures and other alternatives, and that takes funding,” he said.
The city presented its proposed changes to the Downtown Boise Association, and the association is planning to discuss them the week of Nov. 20, said Balluff, the president of the DBA.
“We want to make sure that we know how the people in our business district feel about it,” he said.
The new measures put downtown Boise a little more in line with bigger cities when it comes to the cost of parking. But city administrative services manager Craig Croner insists Boise is not following the rest of the country.
“We’re not the normal city,”Croner said. “We are trying to create an environment that is unique to our area. What we want to do is manage the parking system for people to play and stay in our city. Most all the decisions are data-based.”
Metered spaces are at 90 percent occupancy on weekday evenings and Saturdays, which means vehicles don’t circulate out of metered parking spaces often enough, said Lana Graybeal, communications manager for the city’s community engagement office.
The parking meter philosophy matches the Capital City Development Corp. garage philosophy, where there are three price zones with cheaper parking farther out. The idea is that higher parking rates will encourage people to park a few blocks farther out.
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