North Idaho Slow Growth

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    Letter to Hayden City Council Regarding Mixed-Use Zoning

    To: Hayden City Council Members and Mayor

    Roger Saterfiel, Jeri DeLange, Matt Roetter, Dick Panabaker, Mayor Griffitts 

    I am a Hayden property owner and reside in the area.   My daughter and son-in-law, a lifetime resident; and their five children also reside in Hayden, and most of my other children also live in the area.  

    I did not learn about the efforts to rezone Hayden until a few months ago, but I'm strongly opposed to the rezoning, and believe that the City Council, in league with certain developers, is rushing to make changes quickly, before other residents find out what is going on.   Virtually all the area residents I have talked to about the rezoning are strongly opposed.  If the city council adopts any changes to zoning before the next election, it will appear as a rushed and underhanded attempt to serve the interest of developers, while betraying the people you were elected to serve.  There is no credible justification for rushing such an important decision.  

    I have many objections to the entire zoning category of Mixed Use.  I believe the whole idea of mixing commercial with high density residential tends to destroy any community it is imposed on.  I know this from experience because I have seen my own hometown—formerly a quaint, stable, family-oriented neighborhood, utter wrecked by high density "mixed use" developments.  These are are the real, proven consequences of introducing mixed use into a well-functioning, pleasantly middle-class community. They are not based on fear-mongering, but on actual observed effects on my parent's neighborhood.  

    • Percentage of “owner occupied” dwellings dropped from ~75% to ~45%  (still dropping). As of two years ago, Hayden was at 75-80% and falling.   
    • Massive increase in traffic, congestion, parking problems, higher taxes, restrictions on water usage, seedy characters in public places, and a steep decline in quality of life. And while total population of the area significantly increased, the percentage of children steeply decreased.
    • “Owner-operated” commercial properties—formerly common,-- are almost extinct.  This is one of the worst results of multi-use zoning.  It perverts the market for commercial property. Small-scale, “owner-operated” local businesses are gradually priced-out by corporate developers. 
    • Rents continue to rise no matter how many new units are built.  Large corporate real-estate firms are not sensitive to vacancy rates, and openly collude with other large-scale property owners to keep rents high.   
    • Renters are often transients; less engaged residents; and not committed to the community.  As property values and rents rise, haves vs. have-nots divisions arise and destroy civic cohesiveness.
    • Multi-use building are always boxy, maximum size monoliths that destroy the appeal, sense of tradition, and “unique personality” of the neighborhood. 

    This type of community degradation is happening everywhere that high density development is encouraged.  The idea of “mixed use” is made to sound as if it will promote a diverse community of varying building types, but it is really just a smoke screen for very high density, corporate-owned rental units. It destroys every community upon which it is imposed.    

    Hayden zoning should promote home ownership and local businesses, not large, property-management corporations. 

    We are not anti-growth.  We just want healthy growth.  For Hayden, that means affordable commercial property for independent proprietors, and more single-family, owner occupied dwellings on good size lots.   

    Every acre zoned for high density rentals or multi-use is an acre than cannot be zoned for affordable commercial properties or owner-occupied, single family dwellings.

    The underlying issues are scale and density.    Small scale, owner-operated businesses cannot co-exist over the long term with mega-developments.  High density corporate rentals fundamentally change the character of their neighborhood.  And even renters have a much higher quality of life in duplexes, triplexes and townhomes, than in large mega-developments.   

    All of these problems with Multi-use, high density zoning are well-known and utterly predictable.  

    Urban planners understand them.  City councils understand them. And most of all, large corporate developers understand them.  

    They promote multi-use, not because they are unaware of these problems, but because their vision for Hayden is the polar opposite of that of its current residents.  

    Any representative of Hayden government who supports rezoning for high density development, against the express wishes of current residents, should be voted out or recalled from office as soon as possible. 

    The picture above  was "main street" from my home town 25 years ago.   The picture below is "main street" today. 

    Mainstreet was "fully developed", block after block of owner-operated shops and businesses.  Accountants,  Hair stylists, bookstores, dess-shops, deli's, drug stores, realtors, flooring installers, laundromats, and a few small apartments.   The "developers" bought out every business over fifteen or twenty years at top dollar in order to build "subsidized" housing.  Now all the businesses are "renters" just like everyone else.   This is what Mixed Use zoning does to communites.     



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