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EDITORIAL: Hayden candidates mislead the voters

| October 13, 2023 1:00 AM

If you listen to Hayden mayoral candidate Luke Sommer and council candidate Tom Shafer, you’ll believe that their leadership alone will stave off the evil invasion of high-density housing.

Well, believe them at your peril. The facts are not on their side, leading to a question voters will need to ask:

Are these two just grossly misinformed, or are they being dishonest?

From campaign announcements to local candidate forums, Shafer and Sommer have warned about, in Sommer’s words, “the rush to develop high-density housing.”

To be clear, with home purchases in Kootenai County now beyond the financial reach of 80% of residents, The Press has been advocating strongly for workforce housing solutions. These include higher density projects when and where appropriate.

But stances like Shafer's and Sommer's sound more like Hayden officials are selling their souls to invite the unwelcome. Based on factual records, that's simply not true.

Here’s the exact breakdown of building permits issued in Hayden over the past two years:

Single Family Homes: 114

Manufactured Homes: 2

Accessory Dwellings: 3

Duplex/Twinhomes: 1

Townhomes: 12

High density? For those of you keeping score at home, the answer is: ZERO. Not a single high-density housing permit in two full years.

The Press checked in with one of Hayden’s city council members, Ed DePriest, who is not up for election. DePriest has a superb handle on Hayden’s challenges with growth, and here are some of the key areas where he shows the city has actively been moving away from, not toward, high-density development.

• Made numerous changes to the original Future Land Use Map, reducing potential future density by nearly 15,000 dwelling units.

• Reduced the density of Mixed Use/Apartments from 20 to 12 dwellings per acre.

• Removed Residential Multi-Family, which allowed 14+ dwellings per acre, and replaced it with Mixed Residential (single family, twin-home, tri-home), which is capped at 8 dwellings per acre.

• Created Mixed Use I and Mixed Use II, which prevent any Residential Multi-Family/Mixed Use development on some 800 acres contiguous to the proposed Huetter Bypass.

• Returned “Context of Neighborhood” to the Standards of Approval, which gives neighbors a bigger voice.

Unsurprisingly, Shafer and Sommer are both endorsed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, the same group that has given you disasters at North Idaho College, the Community Library Network and West Bonner County School District.

Hayden voters, please support candidates who know the facts and present them honestly.