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Hold officials responsible for housing crisis

by JOSEPH S. SADLER/Guest Opinion
| May 7, 2021 1:00 AM

An interesting Press article was printed on April 8 regarding MetalQuest Unlimited and the local housing market or lack thereof.

MetalQuest Unlimited is a Nebraska-based precision-machine manufacturer of products for oil, agriculture and firearms industries expanding to Post Falls. Yet, their expansion will have to wait because there is not enough housing for the 75 employees MetalQuest wants to import here.

There is a wealth of local talent of machinists in North Idaho. Machinists capable of developing, designing, and producing materials for the latest amusement park rides to precision surgical instruments.

Unfortunately, the North Idaho agriculture community is slowly becoming extinct. Kootenai County’s prairie once offered the richest farming soil in the Pacific Northwest. Now, the prairie farmland is replaced with thousands of homes with more to come.

So, as Idaho's farmland heads toward extinction, so does MetalQuest’s opportunity to hire experienced local agricultural personnel.

The article also states MetalQuest Unlimited’s concern about the continuous uptick of housing cost versus its starting wage of $20/hour. In March 2017, the median Post Falls home price was $216,040 — to $462,500 as of March 2021, according to Redfin. That is a 214% increase in the cost of housing in Post Falls over the past four years.

The average Idahoan makes around $17/hour with no benefits. Many fourth or fifth generations of Idahoan are being forced out of North Idaho due to the cost of housing outpacing local wages.

There is a reason why "Field of Dreams" never had a sequel. The cornfields from which the baseball legends entered onto the playing field were built over by developers in favor of the marketing ploy “Build it and they will come."

Out-of-staters are buying houses unseen, driving up home prices through bidding wars, snatching up rentals and then jacking up rents. Then once here want to change the North Idaho culture of the last 140 years. No open carry, no neighborhood fireworks on Fourth of July celebrations, referring to Idahoans as racist, redneck, drunk, unintelligent, and unskilled people, who need to be re-educated.

Never mind the out-of-state developers, buyers and local real estate agents who are destroying generations of Idahoans' dreams. Just look at the fields once known as the ”prairie."

Bottom line, like most out-of-state companies and individuals moving here, MetalQuest Unlimited expanded to Post Falls with no thought of Idaho’s greatest resource: Its people.

One more item. Kootenai County does not need a volunteer committee to manage the growth of North Idaho. We all voted for various city and county leaders; their responsibility. Except for those who have vested interest residential property as an owner, banker, broker, builder, and/or real estate agent.

Controlled growth can be done based on conditions of a map at the time of approval by placing sewer, school, water, electrical and cable access costs to be paid by the developer. There are various ways these conditions can be met before, during and after the development of a subdivision or commercial property through escrow bank trust accounts.

A developer’s cost analysis should not include the current tax base money to pay for its infrastructure.

The way I see it, North Idahoans need to remind city and county councils who put them in office. There are plenty of tools to slow down growth without a moratorium. Changes in future planning of residential lot sizes, density, and commercial building need consideration to natural resources. Just ask the Kootenai and Spokane Water District.

Or did you miss that article on April 1 next to the one about North Idahoans buying new housing of garden sheds and barns? Except water shortage is no joke. Just ask your new neighbor from California.

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Joseph S. Sadler is a Rathdrum resident.