A new zoning code will update the Boise cityscape coming Dec. 1

Photo by Niamh Brennan

Every city needs a zoning ordinance to regulate laws on how property can or cannot be used, the landscape of a region, and structure of buildings. 

Boise’s zoning laws underwent a geographic update, thanks to the City of Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission creating the Modern Zoning Code. 

“We have not updated our zoning code since 1966. Think of what Boise in 1966 looked like and think of it today,” said Lindsay Moser, the Communications Manager for Planning and Development Services at the City of Boise. 

Affordable housing, renter protection, diversified housing developments, and preserving Boise’s green spaces and parks encompasses elements of the Modern Zoning Code

The Planning and Zoning Commission alongside the Planning and Development Services for years has gone through an intensive, community-focused rewriting process. Three total phases called modules of community outreach and engagement, design and development standards, and zoning districts and allowed uses contributed to the overall project. 

Around four years ago, the prior administration began conversation around an update to Boise’s zoning policies. 

“We went to the community and said, ‘What do you want the future to look like?’,” Moser said. 

A citizen advisory of 20 individuals from different geographic areas gathered to provide input on the code and provide community perspectives. The City of Boise considered the citizen board including pen houses, surveys, and stakeholder meetings a critical part of the project progressing forward. 

Boise is the third-largest metropolitan area in the Northwest with a population around 801,470 according to the 2021 US Census Bureau Boise has the largest Basque community outside of Spain, and is home to immigrants and refugees from 33 different countries including Congo, Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma, Bhutan and Iraq. 

The city possesses over 190 miles of hiking trails, 850 parks and 25 miles of paths. On Bogus Basin, 2,600 acres of ski routes draw the winter sport enthusiasts. The culture scene is robust, with over 15 museums and over 100 festivals and attractions annually, such as Treefort Music Festival, Greek Food Festival, Hyde Park Street Fair, and the Spirit of Boise.

“You want Boise to look like Boise,” Jill Youmans, Senior Communications Manager pointed out. “Boisains value pathways. You value parks, you value green spaces, you value your foothills. And so it was incredibly important to the administration [and] to everybody involved in this process that we pull in Boisians so that the modern zoning code reflects Boise.” 

The code was approved on June 15, 2023 will go into effect throughout Boise Dec 1. The City
Council after a year will assess the rewritten code for modifications and improvements. 

“We’re a growing city — housing, affordability, climate, all these big goals that we have are really tied into the zoning code,” Youmans said.

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