Why is it when things don’t go our way we need someone to blame? Government should do more and regulate more. It would if it wasn’t so inept or corrupt as various growth groups seem to believe. Is that a recognition of the actual situation or just a knee jerk reaction from those with no solutions or understanding of it?
Growth is a legitimate concern here and everywhere.. Foremost is the homes expanding across the Rathdrum-Prairie and the cost of these new homes. If supply and demand works then if we build more units the price should go down, but does it or should we?
Driving North of Post Falls/ I-90 and also in other cities across the country, we see the prairie being inundated with residential development. Urban sprawl eats up open space, farm and forest lands, requires roads, water & sewer, police, fire, schools etc. The option is infill which is developing and redeveloping within the urban area, the Cities. Services are required but with infill may be less costly due to proximity to existing services. Urban sprawl, typically one or two story single family homes requires large quantities of land resulting in a density of 3.5 to 6 units per acre. Infill requires the trade off allowing medium density 12 to 20 units per acre and a height of 4 or 5 stories plus depending on location.
When we observe extremely high housing costs and urban sprawl, who do we blame and can we fix it. More people are coming regardless of what we do. The question is what to do? Low density urban sprawl when built does not generate sufficient tax revenue to pay for itself. Median density does. Roadways can be improved, traffic lights synchronized to keep traffic moving. Impact fees certainly help but these do not raise the added costs that developments generate.
Planning and zoning actions are open to public scrutiny substantially more than most public agencies in this country. Individuals, contractors, developers and lawyers seek permits, ask zoning questions, file complaints creating a revolving door into planning offices. The laws mandate public records, public notices, public hearings and the public speaking at zoning meetings. Add to that public records laws and public meeting laws and transparency abounds. The resentment of this entire public process is misplaced.
Property rights, free markets and small government are held in high regard by many in Idaho. Should our elected leaders ignore those who hold that view? We have to choose infill or sprawl. If the problem is sprawl then the solution must be in the type of development we accept and where.
Our problems may seem insurmountable but they are not. We must listen and learn to understand the problems. Knowledge is the key to understanding and understanding is the key to actually finding workable solutions. Educated planners can offer proven solutions with options to control growth. We need to acknowledge our leaders are balancing community needs and are not inept or dishonest. A confrontational approach based on lack of knowledge does not lead to solutions. If confrontation is motivated by the quest for power, it is self serving. If we use common sense our lives may be constantly changing but our quality of life does not need to be declining.