If Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue are not to become mere suburbs of Twin Falls, they must find ways to develop workforce housing for the people who are the backbone of our community.
City leaders in Ketchum and Hailey are working hard to navigate paths to that end. As the latest public meetings on two new high-density apartment ideas demonstrated, the path is rocky. Every resident will not be happy no matter what.
Nonetheless, the cities must move forward or sit by and watch while the local economy implodes and what remains is hampered by shortages of critical services.
Higher residential densities on expensive dirt spread land cost out more thinly and produce more affordable units. Simple and spare building designs also keep costs down while maximizing the livability.
This doesn’t mean that every design is a good design. It doesn’t mean that cities should accede helplessly to every developer demand. It doesn’t mean they must accept bad designs.
It does mean, however, that valley residents are going to have to get used to the idea that just developing more log cabins and cottages in the center of large lots will not end the housing shortage.
The Idaho Legislature kicked resort housing supplies in the teeth when it restricted the ability of cities to regulate online vacation rentals. Previous local elected officials increased the shortage by largely caving in to opponents of affordable housing in nearly any form.
City officials and residents have to accept more urban-style development if the area is to have a workforce. No other options remain.