BOISE – A new, two-building apartment complex is headed to Broadway Avenue despite concerns from a neighbor about parking and pedestrian safety.
On Tuesday, Boise City Council unanimously approved an application from Coeur D’Alene developer Beegawk LLC to develop a 35-unit apartment complex with one and two-bedroom units at 2408 S. Broadway Avenue. Because of its location near the Broadway Avenue bus line, the project qualified for a 10% parking reduction and will have 37 parking spaces.
This parking reduction, how residents will use public transit and the project’s proximity to Broadway, which is a state highway connecting to I-84, dominated the conversation about whether or not to approve the project. John Dittrich filed an appeal against the project, arguing that there was not enough parking at the project and the location of the bus stop would encourage residents to jaywalk across Broadway, potentially endangering their lives or risking severe injury.
Ultimately, City Council members disagreed with his arguments and opted to approve the project over his objections because it met the city’s development code and they said the project would cater to people who either have one car or no car at all.
More parking needed? Or not so much?
John Dittrich, the resident who appealed the approval for the planned unit development of the project, said multiple times during his presentation he feared the lack of parking spaces would lead to someone dying from being hit by a car.
He appealed the project on two grounds, insufficient parking and the lack of consideration for pedestrian safety. Dittrich also raised objections to the lack of official comments from the Idaho Transportation Department on the project, which city planning staff said was not typical of the agency to do.
“I don’t think there was any intent to construct densely packed multi-family housing on this,” Dittrich said. “There is far too much packed in on this tiny, boxed-in lot along this very busy stretch of important roadway.”
During the presentation, Dittrich admitted his first ground for appeal was submitted erroneously because he did not realize the project qualified for a parking reduction because one of the Broadway bus stops was within a quarter of a mile. But, he still raised concerns about one of the bus stops being located across the street from the project, which he argued would encourage people to jaywalk across Broadway and put themselves at risk.
He also didn’t buy the developer’s argument that people would live in this project either with a single car or without one, which would also encourage people to park in the neighborhood west of Broadway and jaywalk.
Ben Semple, the landscape architect who designed the project, pushed back on all of Dittrich’s points. He said the aim for the project is to build new units that are “attainable in price” and will be attractive to residents who don’t have a car. He said the property management for the building will also be upfront with residents about the availability of parking and the development would build housing for Boiseans who could work in the neighborhood.
“When people need to use public transit, they will use public transit,” Semple said. “The person who has to walk 1,000 feet to a bus stop, if there’s not a bus stop their alternative is to walk all the way to work or not live there. That’s the problem we’re running into now where people are having to live far from where they work and drive all the way into town.”
Semple said he didn’t get a formal response from ITD about the project, but he did speak with them about the development and the possibility of a pedestrian project crossing Broadway to the bus stop. He said the agency was concerned about a crossing allowing traffic to back up into the nearby signalized intersections at Iowa and Linden Street and unless there was a regional pathway plan for the area, they would not approve a pedestrian crossing to serve the project.
‘Cities are changing’
City Council Members all turned down the appeal, some stronger than others.
Elaine Clegg, the City Council President, acknowledged the heavy traffic and high speeds on Broadway Avenue, but she said as cities continue to grow denser and try to move away from cars, there could be changes to the state highways running through Boise’s most urban areas.
“I don’t dispute that Broadway is a busy road, but I do dispute that it should always be that way and ITD should dictate that a city can’t be an urban place that has safe roadways,” Clegg said. “If we make our decisions based on the fact that ITD won’t change, nothing will ever change. I would submit these kinds of roadways in urban areas are in fact going to change in the next 10 to 20 years because cities are changing.”
City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton said although a lot of Boiseans drive, there are those that don’t and are looking for apartments with minimal parking on transit lines.
“There might not be a lot of people who are a no car or a one car household, but I do know there are people who are,” he said. “This variety of housing we are trying to create is outlined in our (comprehensive) plan and there is a lot of aspects of this that fall right into city code.”
The project wasn’t City Council Member Luci Willit’s favorite concept due to the lack of parking, but she said there was no error in the Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision. She lives in the more suburban West Boise and frequently brings up the need for parking
“I think we have to recognize that we are going to have folks that will have more than one car because they’ll have more than one family member living in the home because of affordability issues so it speaks to me because I have a soft spot in my heart for parking and the common sense of what happens, but to my colleagues’ point I can’t go off just my decision making on this,” she said.