The Legislature’s interim committee on urban renewal has wrapped up its all-day meeting after what Co-Chair Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, called “great discussion today,” and the group will draft some possible changes to the state’s urban renewal laws for consideration at its next meeting on Dec. 14. The senators and representatives generally agreed they want to give local cities or counties the option of whether to have their urban renewal boards be appointed or elected. They talked about making it clear that the local governments that create the urban renewal districts have oversight over the districts’ compliance with state laws. And they agreed to examine definitions in current state law with an eye to making them more clear and consistent.
There was less agreement on the idea of requiring a public vote for certain types of urban renewal projects. Several members, including Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said they thought it would be appropriate for an urban renewal agency to provide public infrastructure for a new public building like a city hall, but not to build the building itself. The idea would be comparable to Coeur d’Alene’s development of a new library, for which voters passed a $3 million bond issue, and the urban renewal district helped with land and development of parking areas.
Youngblood said, “I think we’re making some very good headway.”