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GROWTH: Guidelines for group

| May 7, 2021 1:00 AM

Regional Partnership on Growth held its first “meeting” recently. Only city officials could speak.

Absent from their discussion was any mention of the most obvious solution to skyrocketing growth — local city councils using their enormous “legislative” power (ordinance making and amending) to enact a plan to responsibly control growth.

FAQ’s on the cities’ websites cite numerous sections of the Local Land Use Planning Act as reasons they can’t do anything. But those sections apply only to a city’s “administrative” power — what its planning department must do when someone submits a land use application — under existing city ordinances.

Those LLUPA sections have nothing to do with a city council’s power to change city ordinances and enact new ones — tightening standards, adding new limits, and the like. Under U.S. and Idaho Supreme Court decisions, a city council can downzone and restrict development without coming close to an unconstitutional “taking.”

The county’s “growth management” paper cites two cities which did just that. In migration skyrocketed when the opening of a bridge (Ramapo, N.Y.) and the expansion of a highway (Petaluma, Calif.) made them easy commutes to Manhattan and San Francisco.

Those cities’ councils enacted comprehensive new ordinances to deal with the growth. Constitutional challenges failed. There are numerous other examples. A huge variety of things can be done.

What’s required is political courage by the people we elect — not false claims there’s nothing they can do.

Let’s hope this Regional Partnership on Growth is actually looking for solutions, not just running cover for politicians afraid to do what they were elected to do.

DAVID LYONS

Coeur d’Alene