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Letter To The Editor – Christina Stanley

Dear Editor:
When we were looking at homes in Idaho six years ago, I saw the tell-tale signs of urban sprawl in small communities all over the state. Streets that stopped at farmland with no curbing or landscape and new industrial parks with no tenants. I knew the signs because I had seen it before. And just like the communities I had seen before, the farmland is now gone, replaced by a sea of houses, and big box stores and corporate franchises have put the local small business owners out of businesses. And just like before it was often done under the pretense of providing affordable options and choices in the housing market for the current communities. Do you really think that if granted this request, Agile Homes and future developers will show restraint and limit urban sprawl in Weiser when they haven’t in other communities?

People want to move to Idaho and to Weiser, why wouldn’t they? But is it our responsibility as a state or a city to bend over backwards to accommodate developers to provide them housing? That is what I believe is happening in Idaho and in Weiser. Do you honestly believe there are hundreds of families in Weiser in the market for homes in the $350K – $400K range, or are the developers catering to out of town/state buyers? If the developers were concerned with providing affordable housing, they would build houses that those who live and work in Weiser could afford. I work and my husband is retired and if we hadn’t purchased when we did, we would be hard pressed to afford a home in Weiser and we are California transplants.

What I see happening is that we now have a population moving to Idaho who expect instant gratification and are willing to pay for it. This is causing existing homeowners to see dollars signs and are selling to the highest cash bidder, pricing their neighbors out of the housing market, and causing unaffordable increases in property taxes. This has also drastically reduced the number of rental properties in Weiser and caused a huge increase in the rental rates due to lack of inventory and higher property taxes on rental properties, taxes that are passed on to the tenant.

Two of our neighboring properties were rentals. When the owners sold (to out of town buyers) only one renter found immediate housing, which was at an increased rent that has since increased again. That renter is now paying 50% more in rent then they did a year ago. The other renter had to move in with family. I am sure we all have neighbors
and friends who are in similar situations. There are also properties in Weiser being converted to B&Bs, vacation rentals, and multi-unit houses being converted back to single family homes, further reducing the number of homes and rentals available to existing residents. Do you really believe that allowing a builder to change the zoning regulations to accommodate larger garages, RV parking, smaller front yards and larger covered patios will solve this dilemma faced by so many in our community?

But what do I know? I am a California transplant and I often hear that it is the Californians and other transplants ruining Idaho. Is it us, or is it the developers who want to change our communities? Is it us, or is it the developers who want to make the most profit they can on every inch of land on which they build? Is it us, or is it the developers who are asking for changes in land use and zoning regulations? If we are the ones ruining Weiser and Idaho, then why am I, a California transplant fighting to keep our zoning regulations the same? Why am I the one asking the questions. Why am I at times vilified when it is Agile Homes, an Idaho born and bred company, not me, fighting to change Weiser.

I encourage all of you to visit other communities that have conceded to developer’s requests, including the requests of Agile Homes and ask yourself: Are houses abundant and more affordable? Are rental properties abundant and more affordable? Are small businesses thriving or have they been replaced with big box stores and franchises? Is this what you want for Weiser?

Please remember those communities and what Agile Homes is asking when you speak against or in favor of their request at the next public hearing on March 14th, 2022.

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