You've probably seen one of the City's many public engagement efforts surrounding the Zoning Code Rewrite effort. Or, maybe you haven't - but you've seen the bright yellow signs dotting yards across town proclaiming "Don't Upzone Boise!" Either way, it's clear that something big is underway.
Zoning Code is, in effect, the legal tool that cities use to determine what can be built, and where. Zoning codes help shape how and where we live, play, work, eat, and shop; they help guide how the city feels to live in. We all know that Boise has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the City's current zoning code hasn't been significantly updated since 1966. With the explosive growth experienced in the almost 60 years since then, Boise is sorely overdue for a revamp.
We won't go into the details of what the City is proposing - there's far too much to accurately capture here. However, resources are linked below, and we do strongly encourage each and every resident of Boise to be informed and get involved. The rewrite is the single biggest tool that will be used to shape the Boise of the next 60 years, and NOW is your chance to help design that tool, ensuring that Boise remains the livable, lovable city that we know, by finding a way to successfully manage inevitable growth and change.
How Has NENA been involved in the Zoning Code Rewrite process?
The NENA Zoning Code Rewrite Subcommittee, headed by Vice President Drew Alexander, has been carefully reviewing the draft modules and amended documents as they've been released - a process that has been ongoing for more than a year. Drew was also a member of the Citywide Advisory Committee for several years as the code rewrite was being planned and discussed, so he has a deep understanding of the process and the intent of the ZCR. The NENA Board has discussed the modules, the proposed changes, and concerns that the board and neighbors have at several meetings in the past year, including our March 2023 meeting, where the majority of the agenda was dedicated to the ZCR and included guests from the city for a presentation and Q&A. The Board has also met with the East End Neighborhood Association (EENA) several times to discuss specifically how the rewrite would affect our neighborhoods, which are similar and share many unique features such as historic district designations. In December, NENA sent a letter to the city outlining four areas of concern we had with the then-current draft (linked in Archive > Letters).
In March, the bulk of our monthly NENA meeting was spent discussing the latest iteration of the Zoning Code Rewrite. We welcomed Deanna Dupuy, City Design Manager, as a guest speaker to answer questions from neighbors and board members. An incredibly helpful graphic presentation that was developed by a board member from EENA was shared, showing a sample property and how it could developed under the proposed zoning code. At that meeting, we listened to input from neighbors and discussed as a board what concerns remained, and how we wanted to express those concerns to the City.
On 4/19/23, the NENA Board voted (6-1 with two members yet to vote) to send a follow-up letter to the city, which is posted in the Archive > Letters section of our website. NENA President Erik Hagen will also attend the next City hearing to express our concerns in person. NENA has requested neighbor input all along this process, over the course of many months. In addition to regular discussion of the ZCR at meetings, email feedback is always gratefully accepted - after all, the NENA Board exists to represent the majority sentiment of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, there has been poor turnout at meetings where ZCR topics were featured and the Board has received little neighbor feedback via email, social media, or website contact forms. The ZCR is an incredibly important change for Boise, and it is critical that neighbors attend meetings or submit feedback in other ways so that NENA can fully represent the sentiments of those who call the North End home. We also encourage every citizen to attend City hearings and speak on their own behalf, as individual testimonies often convey a higher level of emotion and can be just as persuasive as testimony provided by a neighborhood association representative.
To share what you love about the Boise of today and your vision for the Boise of tomorrow, please consider attending and testifying at an upcoming public hearing. A project timeline and schedule of upcoming hearings is available here: https://www.cityofboise.org/departments/planning-and-development-services/planning-and-zoning/zoning-code-rewrite/#Upcoming_Meetings