Like many other cities in the Treasure Valley, Star has seen an influx of residents over the last decade. And even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Census shows in 2010, there were 5,793 people living in Star. In 2020, the population grew to 11,117 people.
Star Mayor Trevor Chadwick says more people moving to the area is putting a strain on existing public resources and infrastructure.
“Our roadways and our road networks aren’t getting built at the speed that everybody wants,” Chadwick said. “We can’t continue to build and keep throwing more traffic onto these roads so, we’re looking at all options. Plus, you know, as a city, we’re looking at every 370 houses that get built we need a new police officer and so how do we fund that?”
Driving down density
The mayor hopes reducing density will allow the city to keep up with growth. He says higher-density developments allow more people to move to the area.
“We’re trying to reduce densities within the city because we never expected to have the kind of growth we’ve seen in the last two years because of the COVID factor, and people moving in,” he said. “So we’re making adjustments on the fly as we go.”
Back in 2020, when Chadwick was a newly elected mayor, the city did a 20% reduction in densities.
“I think it’s worked out great,” Chadwick said. “And you see housing developments being built based off of those densities that we did in 2020. But we need to reduce even more… that’s what we’re doing.”
Chadwick said people can expect to see more developments where there are one to three units per acre as opposed to four to six units per acre.
And while high-density housing can sometimes be more affordable, Chadwick said affordable housing in Star is “long gone” as house prices continue to skyrocket. The mayor said that 25 houses in Star had already sold for $1 million or more this year.
“We’ve passed the point of discussing what affordable housing is because there’s no such thing anymore,” Chadwick said. “… it’s going to take a massive market correction to create affordable housing and when that happens, many people in our area are going to lose a lot of wealth. That’s going to be a problem.”
Last month, about 200 residents showed up to an open house the city hosted regarding its comprehensive plan. During the two-hour session, the feedback the city received largely surrounded traffic concerns, school overcrowding, and growth in general.
This month, the city is planning on holding a public hearing to adopt the comprehensive plan update. Information will be published on the City of Star website when it gets scheduled.