Boise City Council

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How Much Do Boise Parks Add to Value of Your Home?

Posted By on Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 9:39 AM

A park, particularly a green space in the heart of a metropolis, adds tremendous value to a city. But is it possible to put a dollar value on that worth?

In an effort to measure that value, Dr. Jaap Vos and Dr. Thomas Wuerzer, two professors in Boise State University's Department of Community and Regional Planning, have completed a research project addresssing the question "What is the added economic value that Boise's Parks and Recreation system provides to the City of Boise?" They will reveal their findings to the Boise City Council on Tuesday, April 21.

The national nonprofit Trust for Public Land uses a standard of 500 feet. In other words, they measure a park's economic impact to homes within 500 feet. There are 11,749 properties within 500 feet of Boise parks. Those homes represent more than $2.7 billion in assessed residential property value. Add in the Boise Greenbelt and Foothills, and there are 16,101 properties within the 500 feet, representing $4.2 billion in assessed residential property value.

But Vos tells Boise Weekly that they were more interested in measuring Boise's entire park system (including the Greenbelt and Foothills) and their economic impact to all residences. That comes close to an impact of approximately $580 million.

There are many variables, however, beginning with the fact that not all parks have the same impact and some homes have greater access to multiple parks. 

The following are among the study's conclusions:

-Access is more important than distance.
-Different parks have different economic impacts (for example Ann Morrison and Julia Davis parks have a much greater impact to all city residences while neighborhood parks have a more parochial impact).
-The park system has a significant impact on property tax revenue in all of Ada County.
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Construction of New Bown Crossing Library Set to Begin in November

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2015 at 9:47 AM

Proposed Bown Crossing Library - FLETCHER, FARR AND AYOTTE
  • Fletcher, Farr and Ayotte
  • Proposed Bown Crossing Library

It has been a topic of conversation for years and this week, the Boise City Council will get an update on the proposed Bown Crossing Branch Library project, which includes an ambitious schedule that would see the doors of the new library swing open November 2016.

The Bown Crossing library would be framed by Riverside Elementary School to the west, East Boise Avenue to the south, Parkcenter Boulevard to the north and Bown Way to the east. Preliminary designs indicate that building materials would have regional and historic significance, including sandstone and natural timber accents. United Water has also been identified as a sponsor of a nearby garden. A so-called revised "hearth" design reveals a sitting room that would include a fireplace.

The $8.5 million project would be funded by approximately $1 million from Friends of the Boise Public Library and $7.5 million in city funds.

Portland, Ore.-based architects Fletcher, Farr and Ayotte have provided preliminary designs. According to city documents, bidding and permitting would occur August through September 2015, construction would begin November 2015 and would continue through November 14, 2016.

The Boise Council will receive the project update Tuesday, March 31.

  • Fletcher, Farr and Ayotte

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Friday, March 27, 2015

City of Boise Shelves Proposed Uber Rules; Forwards All Questions, Concerns to Statehouse

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 1:23 PM

The City of Boise issued a statement Friday regarding its ongoing tug-of-war with Uber that said, in effect, if anything goes wrong with Uber, "don't coming crying to us." In fact, the statement refers all questions and concerns regarding the operation of the app-driven ride share service should henceforth be directed to the State of Idaho.

"Legislation approved by lawmakers this week makes the State of Idaho responsible for oversight on TNCs (transportation network companies such as Uber or Lyft) operating anywhere in the state and precludes oversight of such companies by all Idaho cities, including Boise," read the statement from the City of Boise. "Moving forward, any complaints from Boise residents about TNCs operating in the city will be promptly forwarded to the State of Idaho and closely monitored for swift action by state regulators."

City of Boise officials had moved forward with a proposed ordinance to provide operating guidelines for Uber, but the company suspended its operations in the city and instead lobbied the Idaho Legislature for looser guidelines and found success when both the Idaho House and Senate approved House Bill 262 which provides the framework for TNCs operating in Idaho.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Options Surface for Boise's City Center Plaza or 'Grove Plaza 2.0'

Posted By on Sun, Mar 15, 2015 at 9:32 AM

Boise Weekly first reported in December 2014 on "Grove Plaza 2.0," the concept of what Boise's Grove Plaza might look like once the massive City Center Plaza project is complete. CCP will be framed by a renovated U.S. Bank Plaza, a new nine-story Clearwater Building, a new convention and meeting facility to complement the Boise Centre and a subterranean transit facility, recently dubbed "Main Street Station."

"So, we've started a process with our neighbors to consider upgrades to the user experience that has been there for 30 years, but we want to enhance that going forward," Capital City Development Corporation Executive Director John Brunelle told BW in December.

Now, some options have surfaced and on Tuesday, March 17, the Boise City Council will be briefed on the Grove upgrades.

According to internal memos, the Council will learn of three so-called "chartering options:" evolving the Grove into an "event space," a "hybrid event/public space" or a "public focus space."

Here are some highlights:

The "event space" focus would feature a new concourse, permanent so-called "media poles" with performance lighting and audio, a new stage orientation for early evening events, a portable stage in front of Century Link Arena for performances, and a Jumbotron screen for music events and movies.

The "hybrid public/event space" focus would feature a permanent canopy at the entrance to Century Link Arena, as well as the aforementioned stage orientation, Jumbotron and media poles.

The "public space" focus would feature a redesigned fountain including reprogrammed water effects, more trees, along with the aforementioned stage orientation and Jumbotron.

Designers say all options would include repaving the entire plaza, new high-performance lighting, movable tables and chairs, and a redesigned water fountain.

After getting input from the city, stakeholders say they're prepared to meet in early April to finalize a plan for CCDC approval.
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Friday, March 6, 2015

Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan Appointed to Idaho Senate

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 3:25 PM

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan to the Idaho Senate.

Jordan is set to occupy the seat for District 17 left vacant when seven-term Boise Democratic Sen. Elliot Werk resigned in February to join the four-member Idaho Tax Commission. 

"Thanks to former Sen. Werk for his long and distinguished service," Jordan wrote in a news release. "Jumping in mid-session will be a steep learning curve, but I am confident that I am up to the challenge."

Jordan's name was one of three submitted to Otter on Feb. 26 for consideration to fill the open Senate seat. Other contenders included longtime civil servant and educator Lorraine Clayton and attorney Nicholas Warden.

While Jordan has said this will be her final term in office on the Boise City Council—where she has served since 2003—she told Boise Weekly that for the remainder of her term she will be performing her duties with both the Senate and the Council.

Meanwhile, Boise Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb has taken up Werk's position as assistant minority leader.
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Out-of-State Design Firm Ranked Highest in Boise Fire Training Facility Bid Process

Posted By on Sun, Mar 1, 2015 at 8:30 AM

After getting overwhelming support from voters, the city of Boise is ready to move forward with a plan to build a new fire training facility.

It took two attempts to get a super majority, but Boise voters ultimately approved a $17 million public safety bond in November 2014—76 percent voted yes. The bond included $6.8 million for a new firefighter training facility to replace the current facility near Americana Boulevard which, according to officials, is obsolete, 

On Tuesday, March 3, the Boise City Council will be asked to choose an architectural firm to plan and design a new training facility. The city received 11 proposals—almost all of them were from Idaho firms (seven were from Boise)—but coming out on top of the evaluation was the only out-of-state proposal, which came from Bremerton, Wash.-based Rice Fergus Miller. According to officials in the city's Division of Administration Services, RFM scored highest for accuracy, completeness, responsiveness and its interview with the city.

RFM says it plans to partner with a local architectural firm for the design process, the Boise City Council has the final say in the matter and is expected to award its decision March 3.
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Friday, February 27, 2015

UPDATE: City of Boise Continues Vetting Draft Ordinance, State Introduces Bill to Allow Uber Statewide

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 9:56 AM

  • Adam Rosenlund

UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 27 at 9:45 a.m.

The city has decided to move forward with the ordinance draft that was discussed on Tuesday's meeting, despite Uber's sudden disinterest in negotiating an operating agreement with the city. The ordinance isn't specifically for Uber; rather, it's for transportation network companies at large. The draft will be given to stakeholders today, according to the Mayor's Office spokesperson, Mike Journee, to receive their feedback. 

The ordinance will be presented at the next Boise City Council meeting Tuesday, March 3.

This comes after Uber suspended operations in Boise yesterday, citing "high and growing costs combined with unworkable and onerous regulations being proposed by the City leave Uber no other choice than to suspend operations in Boise for the foreseeable future."

But in a blog post, Uber wrote the "future's still bright for Uber in Idaho." 

That's because yesterday afternoon, Uber's lobbyist brought a bill before state legislators in the House State Affairs Committee. Boise State Public Radio reported that the lawmakers agreed to introduce legislation that would allow Uber and other rideshare companies to operate statewide, trumping local government's desire to regulate them.

Unlike the city's ordinance draft, the statewide bill would not require Uber drivers to get a commercial license. It would regulate the drivers separately from taxi and shuttle drivers, but still require background checks.

Two legislators, including Rep. John McCrostie (D-Boise) voted against the bill. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 26 at 1:50 p.m.

The city of Boise was preparing to give Uber and other stakeholders a drafted ordinance tomorrow, according to Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's spokesman, Mike Journee. He told Boise Weekly the ordinance would have given Uber a chance to provide feedback and engage in the process.

"But apparently they decided that they're not interested in doing that," Journee said. 

Journee reiterated that the city cares most about public safety—making sure anyone who takes a ride from Uber is assured that the driver has no concerning criminal history, that the car has been properly insured and inspected, and that an avenue for the customer to provide a complaint to the city against the driver exists.

"Unfortunately, Uber apparently doesn't think our desire to create a safe transportation network is something that they should concern themselves with," Journee said

Journee isn't sure what will happen with the drafted ordinance yet. He said it wasn't created specifically for Uber, but for any rideshare businesses like it. Originally, a public hearing on the ordinance was slated for Tuesday, March 31, but since Uber suspended its service in Boise today, the draft's timeline is up in the air.

Uber wrote in an email that people can still request a ride in the Treasure Valley, outside of Boise city limits. Those rides will no longer be free.

ORIGINAL POST: Thursday, Feb. 26 at 12:36 p.m. 

Controversial rideshare company Uber will suspend operations in Boise, effective at noon today. 

In a letter to Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and City Council members, Uber General Manager Bryce Bennett said that after four months of operating in Boise, "we find ourselves at an impasse."

"Despite assurances from the Mayor's staff and city officials that a mutually-workable agreement could and would be reached without unnecessary delay, the City is contemplating an ordinance that imposes outdated rules on modern innovations, with no firm end date in sight," the letter stated.

Uber, which launched in Boise in October 2014, has been waiting for an operating agreement for several months. The company came close to an interim agreement in a City Council meeting on Feb. 10, but the Council slammed the brakes on the proposal and left Uber circling the block yet again.

Without a legal framework to do business in the city, Uber drivers have been forbidden to charge for rides in Boise, though the company has flouted that rule in the past—particularly on this past New Year's Eve, when its drivers charged fares despite a cease-and-desist order.

Uber spokesman Michael Amodeo told Boise Weekly that complying with the order not to charge for services hasn't been cheap.

"We've been covering the full cost of all those rides so partner drivers have been earning an income," Amodeo said. 

The letter continues to state that "high and growing costs combined with unworkable and onerous regulations being proposed by the City leave Uber no other choice than to suspend operations in Boise for the foreseeable future."

PDF BoiseMayorandCouncilOpenLetter.pdf
Read Uber's letter to the city of Boise here.

This comes after a Boise City Council work session on the afternoon of Feb. 24, in which Council members worked with city staff members Craig Croner and Jamie Heinzerling to create an ordinance that would allow Uber to legally take money from customers in the city. Representatives from the company did not have a seat at the table, though.

Croner and Heinzerling presented a draft of an ordinance for what they're calling Transportation Network Companies, which would include rideshare platforms like Lyft and Uber that specifically rely on smartphone technology to match up drivers—driving their personal cars—with citizens who need a ride somewhere. 

The Council discussed requiring Uber drivers get a commercial drivers license, undergo a background check with fingerprints and carry a doctor-issued medical card ensuring they are healthy enough to drive members of the public. A fee of $30 was to be levied on each driver and $150 charged to the company to secure a business license. 

Council members also wanted to exclude anyone with a domestic violence charge from working as an Uber driver, and asked for once-a-year inspections at the city auto shop where taxis are also inspected. A nondiscrimination clause was to be included in the draft as well. 

The question of insurance stumped most of the city officials. Uber offers $1 million in insurance coverage as soon as an Uber driver is en route to pick up a customer, but when a driver is signed onto the platform and waiting for a client, the insurance coverage does not apply. Regular insurance polices often don't cover drivers using personal vehicles for commercial purposes, leaving a potential gap in coverage and a lot of gray area.

The Council settled on a disclaimer for all Uber drivers, warning that they must ensure their insurance companies will cover them during that gap. Failure to do so would result in penalties. 

Through the course of the three-hour-long work session, Council members also outlined rules for Uber at the Boise Airport—drivers would not be allowed to wait in the taxi cue or the cellphone lots and would need to be charged an additional $1.50 for each trip to the airport (just like taxis)—and took aim at a controversial Uber practice called "surge pricing" in which drivers charge more for rides during times of particularly high demand. The Council stipulated that Uber could not mark-up rates during a declared emergency. 

A draft of the ordinance was to be presented to the City Council next week and a public hearing was slated for March 31.

The letter from Uber, however, shows dissatisfaction with the recent work session: 

"It has become clear, most recently during the Feb. 24 council work session, that the City is pursuing an unworkable and outdated regulatory framework that would make it impossible for Uber to operate in Boise. Rather than crafting rules that recognize ridesharing is unique, as almost 20 jurisdictions across the United States have done, the city is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, with no end date for approval in sight."

In an interview with BW earlier this week, Amodeo remained tight-lipped on a number of issues that have arisen with Uber since it landed in Boise. Amodeo didn't disclose how many Uber drivers are on the roads in the Treasure Valley, only saying "dozens," although it was suggested during the City Council work session that that number was closer to 100. 

Amodeo also didn't want to discuss why Uber decided to start charging for rides on New Year's Eve, which caused the city to issue a cease-and-desist order. 

"Charging for rides allows us to continue to operate and offer the service in the Treasure Valley," Amodeo said. "We have been in Boise for four months, and we have seen a tremendous response on the side of the riders and the partner drivers."

In his letter to Bieter, Bennett listed a multitude of reasons why Uber was safe and effective. The letter even stated that "Uber wants to help make Boise the 'most liveable city in America,'" echoing a phrase often repeated by the mayor.

Suspending services in the City of Trees doesn't necessarily mean the end of  Uber in the state. In closing the letter, Bennett wrote:

"While we are suspending operations in the City of Boise effective immediately, we still believe the future is bright for ridesharing in Idaho. That is why we originally made the decision to launch in the Gem State, and it is why we will continue to work with anyone who shares our belief that ridesharing is an innovation whose time has come in Idaho."
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Uber Agreement With City of Boise Is Still Up on Blocks

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 9:45 AM

The Boise City Council wants Uber to circle the block a few more times—and not charge any fares—while it continues to hammer out a possible operating agreement with the app-driven rideshare network. In fact, the council slammed the brakes on a proposed interim agreement February 10, saying it didn't have enough detail and was not in line with existing agreements with city taxi and limousine companies.

Ever since Uber rolled into Boise in the fall of 2014, the company has had a rocky relationship with the city, which took a sour turn when city officials slapped Uber with a cease-and-desist order after it learned that Uber drivers had been charging customers, in spite of not having a formal agreement with the city.

And at Tuesday evening's city council meeting, City Council President Maryanne Jordan took particular note of Uber "breaking the law," when she voted against the interim agreement.

The bottom line: the council will take up the issue again, but this time in a workshop session, on Tuesday, Feb. 24. In the meantime, Uber has been told that it is more than welcome to give free rides to Boise customers.
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Boise City Council Will Consider Temporary Operating Agreement for Uber

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 3:28 PM

  • Adam Rosenlund

The Boise City Council and rideshare company Uber have not gotten along lately, but during its Tuesday, Feb. 10 work session, the Council will consider an interim operating agreement that would allow Uber to operate within city limits—at least for a while.

The kerfuffle began New Year's Eve, when the city slapped Uber with a cease-and-desist order after it "ignored its own good-faith commitment to not charge for driver services" while it was still negotiating an operating agreement. That didn't stop Uber from picking up riders that evening. 

"It's unfortunate city officials are seeking to limit access to safe rides on a night when impaired driving rates are at their highest," an Uber spokesman told Boise Weekly at the time. "We look forward to continuing to connect Boiseans to the people and places they love as we work with city officials to craft regulations that embrace choice and innovation."

By Jan. 7, police were issuing citations to Uber drivers, and by Jan. 10, Uber reinstated its previous policy of giving rides for free until an agreement could be reached with the city. According to a press release issued by city officials, that agreement would mean background checks must be performed on Uber drivers, their vehicles must be inspected twice a year, drivers must be insured, and the company must "establish clear channels for customer complaints and that the company forward those complaints to the city."

The stipulations are identical to those outlined for Uber by the city prior to the breakdown of negotiations. The move comes after the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce announced its support of Uber.

Public testimony will be accepted at  the Feb. 10 Council meeting. Those unable to attend are welcome to make comments via email to city 
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Two Oaths Today for New Boise Police Chief, Councilman

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 9:50 AM

There's plenty of change in leadership for the City of Boise today.

Deputy Chief William "Bill" Bones, a 22-year veteran of the force, will be sworn in this afternoon to become the new Boise Police Chief. Bones emerged from a shortlist of 32 people who were selected from an initial list of 111 applicants for the job.

"For at least the past ten years of his 22 years in the department, Deputy Chief Bones has been grooming himself to be a chief," Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said in late December when he announced his choice of Bones to replace recently retired Chief Mike Masterson. "He could have been a chief somewhere else. But we're very happy that he'll be the new chief here."

Bieter will administer the oath of office to Bones Tuesday afternoon at City Hall West,  aka Boise Police Headquarters. 

A few hours later, Bieter is expected to administer another oath of office, this time to Scot Ludwig, who is expected to get final approval this evening from the Boise City Council to replace recently retired councilman David Eberle. This evening's council meeting with a vote and swearing-in at the top of the agenda, is set for 6 p.m. at Boise City Hall.

BPD Deputy Chief Bill Bones (with current Chief Mike Masterson far right): "When we make mistakes, we'll tell you about those too, but we'll work together to fix them." - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • BPD Deputy Chief Bill Bones (with current Chief Mike Masterson far right): "When we make mistakes, we'll tell you about those too, but we'll work together to fix them."

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