Cities in Blaine County have been far too timid for too many years in their attempts to address the local housing shortage.
Instead of ducking the issue, local elected officials must not lose their nerve in the face of opposition.
Young people in the workforce—even those willing to make financial sacrifices to live in the Sun Valley area—won’t be able to make it if the scarcity of affordable housing continues. Their energy and creativity will be lost.
This shouldn’t be news to anyone at this point. What may be surprising is that the struggle between housing and NIMBYism (Not in My Back Yard) isn’t confined to mountain resort towns.
Estimates of the national housing shortage range from 1.5 million units to as high as 5.5 million.
Many experts now say that zoning that dampens or excludes higher density developments is a big part of the problem. Some public officials in other states are getting aggressive about changing that.
Any city leaders in the Sun Valley area who think they are being too aggressive about embracing policies that would create more housing should pay attention to what’s happening elsewhere.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is pushing to allow the state to override local zoning codes that protect single-family neighborhoods from development of higher density projects and drive up the cost of housing.
She has raised the hackles of both Republicans and Democrats who live in upper-crust suburbs near New York City.
In California, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute found that 74% of voters believe housing affordability is a major issue and that 90% fear that younger generations won’t be able to afford a home.
New state laws that allow homeowners and developers to create multi-family units in single-family neighborhoods have produced few new units and gotten pushback from cities that have refused to allow them.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently vowed to enforce the new laws to pave the way for higher densities. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that “NIMBYism is destroying the state.”
Blaine County is no stranger to the syndrome.
Ketchum has heard grumbling and criticism of its approval of the 51-unit Bluebird Village project that will house workers within the commercial core.
Earlier this week, opponents criticized Hailey for allowing a former assisted living center with 16 studio apartments to be converted into a co-housing development with communal kitchens.
Bellevue inevitably will draw fire for exploring a requirement that developments in newly annexed areas use up to 50% of their increased density for workforce housing.
The idea seemed to chill the blood of some City Council members who fear that developers might flee if the city does so.
Bellevue Council Chairman Doug Brown said developers shouldn’t be penalized for the action—or lack of action—by previous city councils.
Characterizing developers as victims of the local housing shortage won’t help the real victims, local businesses, employees and their families.
Fixing the housing shortage will require more political courage, fortitude and creativity from local elected officials than ever before.
Failure shouldn’t be an option.
“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post a comment as anonymous
Watch this discussion.
They aren't scared! They're greedy! And who cares if developers flee? It's not like they stick around to see the consequence of their greed! Let's stop pimping our development out to out of towners, and start caring about our community. What a joke we are. Wealthy people are the t r a s h that's ruining this place. Greedy, evil, monsters.
Thank goodness for elections. Is nimbyism at fault or is it the failure of Planning and Zoning and developers who can`t seem to fill the bill of what this Valley really needs. Why is a new development (Eccles), at the initial stage of planning incapable of envisioning neighborhoods without a need for tiny homes on wheels? (See today`s article).
Occupied RVs on the front lawns in neighborhoods, ADUs, tiny homes on wheels are an inadequate solution, a trashy afterthought, a cheap fix for poor city planning and profit motivated development.
Welcome to the discussion.