Monday, December 18, 2023

Boise Zoning Code Change

12/17/23 Idaho Statesman has a long article about recent changes to the Zoning Code, generally to allow higher density housing.  This will likely increase traffic but I expect will drive down housing costs.  

For those who are homeless because of high rents, this is a win.  Even increases in high-end housing filters down.  People in nice apartments can afford their first house.  Cheaper nice apartments allow those in crummy apartments to move up. Crummy apartments getting cheaper means the family trying to get by on three or four part-time jobs can afford to move out of their car, homeless shelter, or mother's basement.

One of the more gratifying changes is allowing mixed residential and commercial zones.  When we lived in Petaluma, we lived in an apartment in "the blighted zone.". Yes that is what the city actually called it.  Being an older section, there was a corner grocery store (not a convenience store).  You need not drive to get eggs, milk, butter.

In Santa Monica, where I grew up, the corner of 4th Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard had a collection of ground floor retail businesses and upper story apartments.  (I suspect many were occupied by the business owners ). Montana Boulevard had businesses all along it in close proximity to apartments and houses.

During my campaign for City Council in 1981, I argued that allowing these mixed uses was beneficial in reducing traffic congestion, and improving security.  If you live on an upper story, you can call police when you see or hear a break-in below.  Do you see why I came in 2nd from the bottom on election day, just ahead of the guy who withdrew the day before the election?

I find myself wondering why mixed used suddenly went away through zoning during and after World War II.  The free market had created a very logical structure for development.  

One down side that my research on mass murders exposed: the merchant on the ground floor who refused to pay extortion would be burned out, often killing the families upstairs.

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