An Annual Report to the Citizens of Boise

I wanted to offer a report on the issues I’ve worked on with my colleagues on the Council to each of you – my employers. Below are some of the highlights, broken into topic areas.

I love hearing from you and know that there is much more to be done to ensure that we keep Boise Boise. I value your feedback on your neighborhoods, priorities and hopes for our City. Thanks for all that each of you do to make this a great city to live in.

Throughout the year, we worked on creating better transit in our city, with the few tools that we have. We increased bus service on State Street and looked at other ways to increase service on other major streets too. In the fall, I met with federal officials to discuss opportunities for grants to fund bus rapid transit, our hope to see Amtrak return to Boise and the potential to try new technology such as trackless trains in the future.

This Fall we opened New Path Housing, a permanent support housing community that provides homes and services to formerly homeless Boiseans. We approved a Veterans Supporting Housing development in December and also approved funding to study the feasibility of creating a Community Housing Trust as a tool to provide more affordability options in our city. We’re also working on changes to our housing incentive policy to target affordable housing and looking at changes to ordinances to encourage ADUs and small house options. Click here for more information on our Housing strategy.

Early in 2018, I began working on the establishment of an Opportunity Zone in Boise. This zone on the Bench will make available federal tax incentives to those who are involved in investing in businesses, developing housing and other economic opportunity in the Zone. This has the potential to be a great tool for economic development.

Back in 2016 and 2017, I sponsored investment in Boise’s Central Addition to create the LIV District. Throughout 2018 we broke ground or celebrated the opening of new housing, hotels and businesses in the Central Addition LIV District and in February we’ll be honoring The Fowler Apartments with a Green Building award. We will continue to work with property owners in the LIV District to create more opportunities for a walkable, livable and vibrant district downtown.

I continued to advocate for responsible energy and water policies for our city throughout the year. We are working on a citywide renewable electricity goal after spending a lot of 2018 gathering information, benchmarking our energy use, and looking at responsible paths to save our residents money in the longterm by ensuring we have renewable energy for Boise. On behalf of the City Council, I accepted thousands of post cards from our high school students urging us to do more, and our City Council took their request to heart – we’ll have a council meeting soon to make a plan!

We also released renewed water from our water treatment facility (now called water renewal facility) that became cider and beer thanks to local brewers! Here’s a picture of the Mayor and City Council drinking the water. It was delicious!

In June, the City Council unveiled #iamboise flags that we flew downtown during the Boise Pride Festival. I worked with the festival to bring these to Boise because it’s so important that everyone know they’re welcomed and to remember that we are all Boise.

Later that month, I wrote a resolution expressing concern about the forced separation of families at our Border. City Council and the Mayor passed this because Boise’s story is like our country’s story – we were all immigrants at one point, seeking a better home for our families and a better future for our children. Here’s a link to the resolution.

In February we approved the first two projects with the funds from the new Open Space and Clean Water Levy. In March and then in September, we approved, with some changes, a bike skills park. In April, we broke ground on the new Gorongosa Park exhibit at the Zoo (and it’ll open this summer!). And in December, we accepted the donation of a new park – Sue Howell Park – in the Barber Valley.

And because neighborhoods are so important to our city – the City Council approved over $800,000 in neighborhood investment grants and nearly $50,000 in mini grants that will fund 21 capital projects throughout Boise. Neighborhoods can apply for these funds through the Energize our Neighborhood Program. Click here to apply.

Of course much more happened in an incredibly busy 2018 for Boise, but these are some of the highlights I wanted to share with you. As always, I value your feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me at lmclean@cityofboise.org or by calling 208-972-8513.

Thanks for the honor and opportunity of serving Boise in 2018. We have a lot of work ahead, and I look forward to working hard with you and for you in 2019.

Many thanks,
Lauren McLean
City Council President

7 Comments. Leave new

Lauren—Thanks for sharing and the update. I am so proud of al that you do for Boise and the greater Boise area of which I am a part. Best wishes for a meaningful and impactful New Year.

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Aaron Swisher
January 2, 2019 11:10 am

Yes, the update is great! Keep working on those public transit issues, and let us all know how we can help. Thanks for your efforts!

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Ms. McClean,
I think I am among many in Boise who feel that the City Council and the Mayor do not truly listen to the input, desires and intentions of the citizens of Boise. I have attended several city sponsored meetings where disagreement with the directions the city is taking was expressed and left with the feeling the meetings were called so that it could be said “you listened”. The Council and thee Mayor seem hell-bent to spend any amount of taxes to make Boise a monument to your collective selves, while here are safety and policing issues that seem to be ignored. There seems to be no concern for the extravagant increase of the taxes we must bear for your “”projects” nor for the opinions of the people who express opposition to them. The Council and the Mayor instead have their agenda and will proceed regardless of the costs. And the costs presented to us always seem to be incomplete. No, “not seem to be”, rather are.

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Hi Bob, Thanks for your comments. For me it’s not just saying I listened. While we don’t necessarily always agree, I’ve never left an experience where I heard from the public not impacted by what I heard. And, the Council is made up of individual elected officials – while we often agree we also often disagree and vote differently from each other. I’m concerned about the impact that the limits to homeowners’ exemptions have had on property taxes, and believe that there is a push in the legislature to pick that up again. This year particularly, all residents of Boise (and Idaho, for that matter) felt the impact of the legislature’s bill to put a limit on the homeowner’s property tax exemption rather than keeping it fluid. We’ll have to look at that impact when making our decisions on budgets and taxes next year. It’s definitely a balance!

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Lauren, I appreciate your outreach efforts. Thank you. Best wishes going forward.

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Thanks, Lauren.
About that ‘catch 22’ called Transportation.
I wonder just how big Boise et all will have to be to have people really interested in Public Transportation. Not all that long ago traffic lines were few – now they have become the norm.
I have had a challenge to attempt to discover how to use the current system.
I am willing to help wherever I could – maybe there is a meeting to attend somewhere, etc.

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Roberta D'Amico
January 6, 2019 12:00 pm

Thank you for the update, which I received via email and SM platforms. I’ve encouraged my friends to sign up for the updates as its the easiest way to stay informed and engaged – if they choose to.
Since moving for work related promotions was my focus, I recently realized I’ve lived in Boise longer then anywhere else. Boise, with its rapid growth is thinking about the future in advance and engaging differing view points in the process. At the community meetings I appreciate hearing the various viewpoints, as well as adding my own. Rapid response to rapid growth is a huge challenge. Improved transit is a key issue as it supports the other issues addressed. I hope we can all work together to find the balance. Keep it up.

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