****CANDIDATES FORUM: Here’s your chance to hear from the candidates directly! Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m., NENA – along with 8 other neighborhood associations – presents our annual Candidates Forum. It will be at St. John’s Cathedral Parish Hall, 775 N. 8th St. We will take written questions from the audience and pose them directly to the candidates. Free and open to all!****
Traffic: Describe your commitment to managing traffic through the North End as western and foothills communities continue to grow. Please explain how you would work with ACHD, how you would implement the Transportation Action Plan, and what conditions of approval you would place on future development to address traffic in and through the North End.
Historic Preservation: Describe your commitment to the City of Boise’s existing Historic Preservation Guidelines. To the extent you approve of any changes to the existing Guidelines, please list them and explain your reasoning.
SEAT 2: Paul Fortin
Retired – Boise Fire Department Captain
Traffic: I am strongly committed to keeping the amount of vehicular traffic throughout the North End to a minimal amount as possible. As the Transportation Action Plan is only 1 year old, it will take time to see how well the plan works for Boise City. I therefore see forming a group from within the cycling, vehicle, walking commuters and bus riders along with ACHD, Boise City meet, regularly and make changes as needed on TAP. North End traffic is rising due to new subdivisions in the foothills and areas of infill. One idea is making 8th and 9th one-way. This would also benefit bicyclist having wider space in their commutes.
Historic Preservation: The Design Guidelines for Residential Historic Districts is 105 pages, and needs to be simplified for homeowners and builders to follow these guidelines can be frustrating. The other issue is having the same city inspector deal with all phases of construction. Too many times changes are being put upon the home owner to meet historic guidelines without notice. I want the North End to retain its historic character and for the city to simplify the historic guidelines.
SEAT 2: Logan Kimball
Works at a digital publishing & advertising agency
Previously worked in finance and banking
Traffic: The historic North End is an amazing gem for our city. My family and I love living in the area. As a father of a young daughter, I realize the need to find solutions to traffic issues in our own neighborhood. As mentioned in the Boise Transportation Action Plan, our streets need to offer multiple choices for mobility, especially in the North End area. Pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles need to co-exist in a welcoming manner. I believe that creating safer, slower, less congested roads increase livability, economic prosperity, and property values.
I believe traffic calming is essential in our neighborhood to protect our families. I proudly advocate for speed bumps, roundabouts, and slower limits. It’s been proven that narrowing streets increases pedestrian safety and allows for the implementation of bike lanes. I believe we also need to limit growth and development in the area to help preserve our quality of life and neighborhood.
Historic Preservation: I think the history of our unique neighborhood needs to be prioritized and maintained by all residents. I support regulations for new buildings to be similar in scale and shape to other current homes. I advocate for maintaining traditional character and protecting mature trees. I also believe in adaptive re-use.
SEAT 2: Rachel Misnick
Excise tax auditor, Wash. State Dept. of Revenue (works from home)
Traffic: The Transportation Action Plan (TAP) showcases a well-researched, beautiful vision for a great quality of life in Boise, but simple observation shows that there has been difficulty thus far in implementing this vision. Population growth drives up housing costs and increases traffic, which in turn decreases air quality. While reading the TAP, I do not believe that enough emphasis has been placed on increasing public transportation to and around the downtown and major regional activity areas. Creating more bicycle and pedestrian friendly routes is very important as well, but it is difficult to maintain the number of people commuting by those methods when the weather is unfavorable, as it was this last winter. While parts of the plan have already been implemented, discussions would need to be held with ACHD to explore efficient ways to expand public transportation, and reduce traffic rates and noise in residential neighborhoods. This is particularly important in areas such as the North End that struggle with rates of traffic that are higher than many other residential areas due to its proximity to the downtown area.
Before approving new developments for the Western and Foothills communities, I would like to see management plans that direct traffic toward major thoroughfares by strategic placement of neighborhood exits and roads, and encourage the creation of bicycle and pedestrian friendly pass-throughs that take direct routes through adjacent neighborhoods to the downtown area. I would also like to see more concern within the Council as to the effect the development would have on the surrounding land itself.
Historic Preservation: As a person who is fascinated by both history and architecture (particularly the Victorian and Craftsman styles), I am very committed to upholding these Guidelines. When I worked in the downtown area, I loved to spend my lunch break walking down Warm Springs Avenue because of the beautiful pieces of history lining the street. While reading the Guidelines, nothing stood out that appeared to need revision. If any of the residents of the Historic Preservation Districts came to me with concerns though, I would be more than happy to discuss their ideas.
SEAT 2: Lisa Sanchez
Case coordinator & paralegal, Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program
Traffic: Boise’s open spaces and nearby hiking trails are key to the quality of life that our city is able to boast about to residents and visitors alike. During the recent economic downturn, I discovered the joy of hiking in our foothills, and it did wonders for my physical well-being and my mental health. In fact, it was the natural beauty of our city that kept me from leaving the area during a period of unemployment. Everyone should have access to Boise’s natural recreational areas – we need to continue to keep our open spaces open. I live in the North End, and I see my neighbors walking, biking and running on our streets all the time. Increased traffic could change what makes living near Harrison Boulevard so special.
We have had a recent failure in an approved Boise project that we can learn from in order to prevent financial and environmental costs to the city. We cannot afford to lose the open space that contributes to our quality of life. We must also consider how increased traffic through our current neighborhoods to new developments could discourage the way of life of many North Enders. My passion is connecting people to resources and I would have an eye toward building a positive relationship with ACHD to implement the Boise TAP in order to improve safety and make traveling the streets of Boise a family affair.
Historic Preservation: Preserving the character and quality of Boise’s neighborhoods is important to me. The historic homes that that are the pride of the North End are what make our neighborhood so special, and I believe in taking steps to preserve them. I have called the historic North End home for nearly 15 years, and I support current Guidelines, particularly in regards to protecting mature trees, keeping new construction and remodeling in proportion with neighboring houses and small lots, and keeping garages alley-loaded. I promise to always listen to homeowner feedback and suggestions about the improvement and alteration of these Guidelines because I believe everyone deserves a seat at the table.
SEAT 2: Frank Walker
Attorney; former Ada Co. Commissioner
Traffic: In the past, I have worked well with elected officials and will bring a cooperative spirit to the City Council. This being said, Boise needs to take back its streets in relation to the final design and improvements of streets. Street design should not be a topic for negotiation subject to ACHD’s final determination. The Boise Transportation Action Plan is a strikingly good map for the future treatment of streets and neighborhoods city-wide. Traffic calming is critical in the North End. 15th and 16th streets are viewed as speedways for commuting to and from the foothills, same with 28th and 36th streets. 15th and 16th streets need to be two-way from Downtown, the lanes narrowed to better accommodate bikes and speed limits lowered to 25 mph. All North End streets are residential streets and must be treated as such. Bulb-outs and roundabout intersections must be incorporated into the grid to slow traffic down and make the neighborhoods safer. Zone changes in the foothills to accommodate growth need to be scrutinized and limited. The net impact of development in the foothills and the impact fees received by ACHD should be dedicated to traffic calming measures set forth in the Plan and never used to expand capacity.
Historic Preservation: I am committed to historic preservation and gratefully live within a district. I would change membership of the HP Commission to require diversity of expertise and experience. It is presently a recommendation and needs to be required. I would require that prior to demolition of a contributing structure, an appropriate waiting period be imposed to ensure options are available to restore or move the structure. I would exclude covered porches in calculating lot coverage. This would encourage construction of larger porches. The guidelines also need to reflect changes in building materials to include new materials that are historically appropriate and cost effective.
Seat 4: Crispin Gravatt
Education research analyst
Traffic: My number one concern is the safety of the people of Boise – especially our children. I will bring representatives of the Boise and West Ada School Districts to the table to ensure that a walkable and bikeable radius for every school is the very first priority for new transportation safety projects, and we will make sure that the pressure is on. From there, we can use the success of these projects to encourage further safety, connectivity, and other livability initiatives, borrowing from TAP’s examples of minor, effective capital investments.
There is a reason people from West Boise and the Foothills head through the North End: it is a great place. The best way to mediate the traffic through our community is to enable our neighboring communities to become great places in their own right. The Transportation Action Plan needs to be closely and dynamically aligned to the unique economic initiatives in these neighborhoods – and encourage better projects to serve neighborhood needs. I will create stronger partnerships between the professionals at ACHD, the City, neighborhood associations, business, and other concerned groups through a centralized anchor partnership with higher education.
Historic Preservation: A Cultural Plan study cites the lack of youth engagement as one of the leading problems facing culture and historic preservation in Boise- including the lack of affordability and viability of these passions in our economy. I will work with groups in our public schools and higher education to engage young people in preservation work and analysis. This way, we can ensure that the importance of our history is better protected and understood moving forward.
I have already begun building this civic-education partnership, and the future looks promising. I am working to retain the talent that can carry forward an appreciation for the historic, architectural, and cultural heritage that makes Boise what it is. Nearly every duty of the Historic Preservation Commission can be boosted by formally engaging young people – and as a young person, I know we give back to our community when our passions are encouraged. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish when we work together.
SEAT 4: Naomi Johnson
Clinical social worker; community organizer
Traffic: My campaign is focused on two major factors – community voices and thoughtful development. It is MOST important to me that neighborhoods have ways to communicate their concerns to our City, and for their voices to be heard. As Boise is rapidly developing, it is important to think about ways to keep traffic low, renters and homeowners thriving, and our environment clean. As your councilwoman, I will make it a priority to mend the relationship between the City and ACHD to increase effective bi-directional communication. We must foster commitment to the Boise Blueprint and the Transportation Action Plan to expand our transit system, support safe routes to school, and implement traffic-calming methods in and surrounding downtown.
Likewise, the City of Boise and Council members need to be more directly involved early in county development decisions that impact city residents. One example would be the Dry Creek Ranch Development in the foothills, which will channel significant traffic through and burden residents of the North End. Though city staffers commented on the development, I see a greater role for the City in engaging the county early on and advocating for city residents’ interests.
Historic Preservation: The preservation of our unique historical neighborhoods is invaluable to me as a resident of Boise. My platform as a City Council candidate has everything to do with development, planning, and zoning. We need to be thoughtful moving forward to protect the features in Boise that make us different than other cities. Both residential and commercial Historical Guidelines for Boise City should be utilized in development decisions – maintaining the spirit of each neighborhood is essential in the preservation of our neighborhoods. Specifically, as your councilperson, I will ensure that while change is inevitable and healthy for our community, the diverse architecture and history will be at the forefront of development decisions and outcomes.
SEAT 4: TJ Thomson
Boise City Council member; regulatory compliance technical advisor, Idaho Power
Traffic: Growing communities in the western foothills present challenges in mitigating increased traffic, while maintaining neighborhood character and safety. Building or widening roads through residential areas is neither ideal nor sustainable. Any traffic plan must preserve the charm of these areas—places where children can safely play and walk to school. I have consistently held that infrastructure to handle increased traffic must be in place before approving any new development. Moving forward without adequate service plans is irresponsible.
I’m proud to have played a role in crafting Boise’s Transportation Action Plan. It provides the foundation and long-term planning necessary to accommodate this growth. The plan preserves neighborhoods by making safety and alternative transportation key objectives. As your city council member, I’m actively working with ACHD to earn the value and savings only a comprehensive approach can deliver. Cost effectiveness, smooth traffic flow, infrastructure, and protecting neighborhood character and livability are achievable under this plan.
Historic Preservation: Boise’s Historic Preservation Guidelines are essential to retaining the spirit of many of our neighborhoods. The guidelines are based on national criteria which, I have heard from some constituents, can be somewhat rigid; however, I believe the Historic Preservation Commission does an excellent job applying these standards in a fair and consistent manner, seeking input from neighbors along the way. In most cases, I’ve found those who have sought to make property changes happy with their outcomes. While I am always open to additional input and progress, I am committed to retaining our current guidelines and the preservation aims they protect.
SEAT 4: Nicolas Way
Pricing data quality analyst, Clearwater Analytics
Traffic: Boise needs to promote transportation solutions that can scale with the valley’s growth. The tenants of these solutions should involve developing land designed to facilitate bicycle and foot traffic in addition to efficient transit systems. The work done by the ACHD in creating the Transportation Action Plan goes a long way in setting the foundation for what future and current land development projects should look like. My implementation of the Transportation Action Plan would prioritize the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists as 76 Idaho pedestrians and 99 Idaho cyclists aged 19 or younger were involved in a motor vehicle crash in 2015. While the human cost alone is worth emphasizing safety, the economic impact of these crashes cannot be ignored either “In 2015, the economic cost of crashes involving pedestrians was just more than $116 million dollars” per the Idaho Transportation Department. It is crucial for city council to ask developers what considerations they have made towards alleviating traffic concerns and promoting pedestrian traffic, and to encourage development only when sensible designs have been provided.
Historic Preservation: Having grown up in a home built in 1909 and being raised by a woman who served on the City of Lewiston Historic Preservation Committee has nurtured an appreciation for historical districts and the charm and attraction that they hold for many residents in any city. Unfortunately, the appeal of Boise’s historical districts is at risk from new construction that does not fit within historical neighborhoods’ style and architecture. One of the problems is that our current Historical Preservation Guidelines are not effectively enforced. A possible solution would be to give the Historical Preservation Guidelines teeth by passing an ordinance. City Council would need to work with developers and homeowners in affected regions to make specific, unambiguous rules for new construction and renovations.
Seat 6: Michelle Doane
Occupation: Manager, Id. Transportation Dept.; President, Sunset Neighborhood Association
Traffic: Transportation is critical throughout Boise. I believe in building a strong supportive relationship with ACHD to work as partners to implement sound traffic plans that support commerce and commuters, while enhancing the experience of cyclists and pedestrian traffic. I strongly support developing safe, low stress travel corridors for children. In my experience in order to build a stronger relationship with ACHD, we need to hear both sides of the traffic issues and implement programs that meet the needs of both in a mutually agreeable compromise.
Historic Preservation: I love history and I especially love learning more and more about Boise and Idaho’s history. Well-managed historical preservation allows for smart and reasonable guidelines that maintain the historical nature without overburdening the property owner with extensive rules and regulations.
SEAT 6: Caleb Hansen
Traffic: Managing traffic is an important issue throughout our city, and especially so in the historic North End. Innovative and effective traffic management is necessary to achieve the central goals woven throughout our Transportation Action Plan and Blueprint Boise including safety for our people, optimizing our infrastructure, and nurturing vibrant neighborhoods. We can decrease congestion by increasing public and alternative transportation options, including the creation of sheltered bike lanes and increasing the number of safe bike and walking routes connecting our community.
Even with successful traffic mitigation efforts, the unavoidable fact remains that in order to effectively manage traffic for neighborhoods like the North End we must be extremely cautious about approving new development in the foothills. We cannot allow the economic benefits of new development to cause us to make decisions that will decrease livability and safety for our existing neighborhoods. We will work with the Ada County Highway District to adequately study the impacts on our transportation system with an emphasis on downstream traffic prior to approval of any foothills development. Our blueprint is clear- the foothills should be considered for development only when traffic capacity exists in the system to maintain arterial streets at a “D” Level of Service or better. Yes development has benefits, but sometimes we just have to say no.
Historic Preservation: With the mature canopy of our City of Trees shading the unique architecture that is both distinct and diverse at the same time, the North End is a wonderful place. It’s a place that evokes a sense of the legacy of our city’s history and the continuity which ties that history to our present. This is in great part due to our Historic Preservation Efforts. These guidelines are extremely important and we must continue to protect the unique qualities of this vibrant neighborhood. I’m sure compliance is not always convenient, and would like to thank our North End neighbors for their sacrifice and hard work to preserve such a special piece of Boise.
SEAT 6: Nicholas Jones
Occupation: BSU professor of entrepreneurship & design thinking; owner of several small businesses, including All About Games and The Shack: Hawaiian Shave Ice (in Hyde Park)
Traffic: “A street is much more than a street. It’s where life happens.”
The North End is among my favorite locations in Boise. I lived there for two years and it was heartbreaking to leave. Thankfully, I still own a business at the corner of 13th and Brumback, and I get to visit regularly. I am committed to managing traffic throughout the North End because I am connected to the North End. Its success is my success. Managing growth in anything is difficult. Babies are born, those babies grow and head off to college, adults return to Boise from those colleges and new families start. The need for new homes is always going to exist. However, this growth and the risks associated with it for the North End needs to be mitigated.
If elected, I would work with ACHD on existing goals and developing goals and make sure there is a clear and transparent line of communication that allows everyone to be on the same page. Additionally, I would implement the letter of TAP in my decisions, but also what I feel is the overarching spirit backing TAP: improving and creating livability, while establishing safety.
As for the conditions of approval I would place on future development that would address traffic in and out of the North End, I would stick with a simple ideology/question, does this development increase the vibrancy and drive of life in the street or does it decrease it. If the answer is no, it will not get my approval. My goal is to grow the heritage and appeal that exists in the North End.
Historic Preservation: I am 100% committed to maintaining the City of Boise’s existing Historic Preservation Guidelines. There is something about the North End. Everyone who spends time there feel a sense of connection and being. They feel the something that is there. Preserving that pleasant air and experience for the years to come is vital. At this time, I do not have any plans or desire to change the existing guidelines.
SEAT 6: Holli Woodings
Occupation: Business owner & community volunteer, former Dist. 19 State Representative, former NENA president
Traffic: Many of the streets in the North End are currently at capacity for traffic, and since a hefty percentage of folks work downtown, any new development in the foothills is going to increase traffic through the North End, especially historic Hyde Park, 15th Street, and Harrison Blvd. This is a key constraint for any proposed foothills development. One of the focuses of the Transportation Action Plan is on choices – giving residents “real choices” in how they move about the city. Transportation choices should be a priority, and incorporated into proposals for new development, so we can alleviate the strain on our neighborhood streets. In the future I would love to see the concepts for compact neighborhoods contained in the Transportation Action Plan piloted in neighborhoods like the North End.
Historic Preservation: The City of Boise’s Historic Preservation Guidelines have been an exemplary tool for preserving the character of the North End and East End for many years. As a tool for residential designers and homeowners, the guidelines are a great resource and when I served NENA we went to lengths to educate realtors and homeowners. As the needs of Boise’s families change, it would be prudent to look at the lot coverage guideline, which is currently 30% in historic districts. Many of the existing contributing homes in the districts sit in the mid-30% range, and it is my belief that the guideline could be increased to 35% without detriment to the integrity of the neighborhood, as long as guidelines on height, mass, placement, etc. are still adhered to. Today’s families require more space than in the early 20th century, and I believe this need can be accommodated within our original suburban neighborhoods.