February 24, 2014 in Idaho

Idaho House decries ‘planning police,’ goes after city powers

By The Spokesman-Review
 
How they voted

Here’s how North Idaho House members voted on HB 480, the bill to trim Idaho cities’ design-review powers:

Voting in favor: Reps. Cindy Agidius, R-Moscow; Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; George Eskridge, R-Dover; Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene; Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton; Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene; Ed Morse, R-Hayden; Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins; and Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Voting against: Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow

Absent: Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake

BOISE – The Idaho House has backed a move to trim Idaho cities’ power to regulate building design, decrying the “planning police.”

“Markets should allow choice,” Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, told the House, opening this afternoon debate on his bill, HB 480. “We need jobs and economic development in this state much more than we need the planning police mandating their vision of beauty.”

Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, said he’s had emails from cities and architects all over the state opposing the bill. “This bill gives anyone the right to build pretty much anything they want,” he said.

But Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, warned, “These are property rights issues, people. We’d better be careful.”

The bill would make design review requirements voluntary, preventing cities from requiring changes in proposed buildings for esthetic reasons.

It still would allow cities to impose design requirements in designated historic districts, and for signage, lighting, landscaping and screening. Cities also could still require conditional-use permits for some developments, and the bill allows regulation of surface finishes, though not structures. It also requires that all requirements be “clear, ascertainable and not based on subjective considerations.”

Rep. Cindy Agidius, R-Moscow, said in her district, a developer incurred big expenses because regulators made him move a heating unit just for esthetic reasons. It “ended up costing him a fortune,” she said. She said things have gone so far that she’s had “city council trying to tell people what color they’re going to paint the inside of the house.”

Rep. Terry Gestrin, R-Donnelly, said, “I don’t feel this bill goes nearly far enough.”

After much debate, the bill passed the House on a 50-17 vote, and now heads to a Senate committee. To become law, it still needs Senate passage and the governor’s signature.

Morse told the House, “The only thing that this legislation does is restrict a small right, the right of esthetic or beatification design for commercial and industrial structures.”

Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, co-sponsor of the bill, said allowing cities to regulate design of buildings amounts to a “beauty tax.”

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said, “I think the remedy, if someone is dissatisfied with a city design review ordinance, is to run for city council. That’s why we have local government.”

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus