Contact: Dan Gookin • (208) 667-5200 • dan@gookin.com
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September 10, 2019

The Biggest Issue Facing the City

If you ask, people claim that growth is the biggest issue facing the City. This claim is true — for the short term.

Growth can be dealt with, providing you have a Council that doesn't knuckle under to every increased density request offered. It's my hope that the updated Comprehensive Plan deals with growth in a sane manner, one that protects established neighborhoods from high-impact development while maintaining the charm and character of Coeur d'Alene.

Down the road, however, the major issue facing the city is that the people who work here cannot afford to live here. We have this issue now, though it's poised to become a greater problem in the future.

The solution isn't the catch phrase "affordable housing." Nothing guarantees that "missing middle" housing won't be gobbled up by landlords who turn the properties into rentals. That's the free market.

No, the solution is to replace the timber and mining industries that once dominated this area with something equitable. Our economy now is based on tourism, which isn't known for high wages. Therefore, we must bring in a second industry, one with career-level jobs. To do so, we can use a tool that's readily available and which may surprise you: urban renewal.

Elsewhere in Idaho, urban renewal has been effective at attracting hundreds if not thousands of long term, well-paying jobs. The problem in Coeur d'Alene city's urban renewal agency, ignite cda, is focused on public projects and "leveraging" public money toward private developer's projects. This use is legal for urban renewal, but it does nothing to help Coeur d'Alene families who would like to afford a home here.

Resetting the focus of the city's urban renewal agency would take time, and more support than I currently have from Council. It's my hope, however, that in the future, a new Council and Mayor may refocus urban renewal specifically on jobs. That would be one solid way to address the biggest issue facing the city.

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