North Idaho Slow Growth
Jun 13, 2022
Mayor and City Council,
For the past year, those of us involved in the "Slow Growth" movement have been working to reduce the density of future growth and to preserve the suburban character of the City of Hayden. During this time we have done a great deal of research and we recognize that the problems of growth and development are complicated and must be dealt with thoughtfully.
That said, it is now seven months since the citizens of Hayden, by a sweeping majority, elected new City Council members who they believed were dedicated to making serious adjustments to the existing, very unpopular, comprehensive plan. And during this time, very little progress has been made on the issues of greatest concern to us.
Most of those of us involved in the effort to reign in unhealthy growth in Hayden believe that the council has been distracted with other issues, and problems with the 2040 Plan have been allowed to languish. We are glad that “Mixed Use” zoning along the proposed Huetter corridor has been put on hold, but this is only the first step in reforming, or possibly even repealing the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
Now that the drama involving mayoral issues is over, we believe it would be appropriate for the City Council to schedule several working sessions, or possibly a “town hall” specifically dedicated to going over ideas about how to move forward on making serious, significant changes to the Hayden Comp Plan and or Title 11 Zoning code. We believe that significant changes to the current plan are needed to protect the things we love most about our community over the long term.
Over 8 months ago, we wrote an article that detailed many of the Serious Problems with Hayden’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan but due to confusion and distraction within the city government, none have been seriously addressed to date.
The article listed above, and other articles on the North Idaho Slow Growth Research website delve into the problems with the 2040 Comprehensive plan in more depth than we can go into it this letter, but three of the main areas where serious problems still remain are as follows:
- Population Densities: Anticipated future Densities will destroy the Suburban character of Hayden, and tax already overburdened traffic, school, and law enforcement facilities. Projected densities and the amount of high density housing must be reduced.
- Large Scale Corporate Rentals: The 2040 Plan explicitly preferences Corporate Rentals over Private Ownership, primarily in the proposed Mixed Use zoning category. Home ownership is a PRIMARY VALUE of North Idaho residents, and must be protected at all cost. We realize that “Multi-family housing” can be profitable for INVESTORS but the current FLUM relegates vast areas of Hayden to exclusive Commercial/Corporate ownership, on which NO PRIVATELY OWNED HOMES CAN BE BUILT, and this is completely unacceptable.
- Manufactured Home Facilities are de-emphasized: Ten percent of Hayden’s existing Housing stock is in “Manufactured Homes” and this has always been North Idaho’s solution to “affordable housing”. Yet the 2040 Comp Plan makes all EXISTING Manufacture Home facilities NON-CONFORMING, and makes NO PROVISIONS for future Manufactured Home facilities (other than PUD which make no sense for Manufactured homes). This is a HUGE PROBLEM which badly effects Hayden’s most vulnerable population.
The relegation of ten percent of Hayden Housing to “non-conforming” status was undoubtedly done to take advantage of GENEROUS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES for Low Income Rental Housing, but these subsidies drive up rental costs and are a disaster for every community that adopts them. Hayden’s plan for affordable housing MUST be based on low cost manufactured homes (owner occupied wherever possible), NOT on federal subsidies that primarily benefit developers.
All these issues are complicated, and there are no easy, obvious solutions, but all were made dramatically worse by the 2040 Comp Plan. And all deserve serious consideration by the Hayden City Council. To ignore these issues is to allow Hayden to grow in an unhealthy and undesirable manner, that is opposed by the vast majority of residents.
We believe that in planning for the City Budget for the coming year, provisions must be made for making serious revisions to the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, and that a certain amount of time and money should be allocated for the effort. IF this is not done, then the only option the people of the city of Hayden will have is to insist on full Repeal of the 2040 Plan, which is allowed by Section 67-6509 – Idaho State Legislature.
It would be best if the City Council actively led the effort to amend or repeal the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, but those of us who have been paying attention to Hayden City politics recognize that it may be difficult for elected Representatives to act aggressively in this area due to legal considerations. If this is the case, then it may be necessary to form a Citizen’s Advisory committee that can make independent recommendations without being subject to accusations of “conflict of interest” or legal threats.
We believe that many of the current Hayden City representatives share our concerns, and we would like to work as constructively as possible in helping to identify ways that we can work together to improve Hayden’s long term growth plans.
Please make revising or repealing the disastrous 2040 Comprehensive Plan a top priority for the City in the coming year, and let us know how Hayden citizens can help and contribute to the effort.
The City of Hayden was forced to use extremely aggressive Growth estimates provided by KMPO, and the 2040 Sewer Plan provides for a "fully developed" Hayden of over 75 Thousand people; four times the current population.
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