Wednesday, July 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Turning back the clock not an option

| August 20, 2023 1:00 AM

If you could turn back the hands of time, when would you like to land?

How about the 1950s? You know, when life was darn near perfect — unless you were Black, a woman with independent leanings, or an American citizen accused of harboring Communistic beliefs.

More recently and more locally, how about a couple decades ago, when Kootenai County real estate was cheap and abundant and traffic was hardly an impediment to getting where you wanted to go? Never mind that White Flight was filling in gaps left by the undearly departed Aryan Nations, and that the seeds of extremism were being planted by outsiders intent on reshaping the region in their image.

How does 2017 sound? Late that year, two Republican county commissioners, Bob Bingham and Marc Eberlein, essentially flushed building code regulations down the toilet, providing a hefty “up yours” to sensible governance while opening the door to unsafe construction if that’s what the owner wanted.

In the case of Hayden City Council member Sandra White, the sweet spot was 2019. That’s when Hayden relied on a zone map rather than the comprehensive plan it now has, as is required by state law.

White, who moved here in 2014 and ran successfully for City Council in 2021, recently argued in a public workshop for going back to that 2019 zone map and basically tossing the comp plan where two county commissioners once dumped building codes they thought smelled like government overreach.

That workshop was not the first time White has championed the impractical and inappropriate zoning concept she embraces. In her short time on Council, White has repeatedly argued against multi-family development — basically, the kinds of housing that might impact nearby property values and attract people White might not want for neighbors.

White isn’t alone in that mindset, of course. There are enough Haydenites who agree with her to the point that they easily elected her to office over a respected, longtime member of the Council, Jeri DeLange.

Fortunately, White’s utopic vision of a Hayden that doesn’t welcome people from all economic levels — including those who work in the service industry, schools, public safety and other essential positions that don’t pay enough for the typical $600,000 Hayden home — isn’t the majority view on the Council.

The solution, as the rest of the Council appears to understand and apply, is one of conscientious balance — working within the larger comprehensive plan and making adjustments as needed so Hayden remains a wonderful place for anybody to live, work and play.