More than 1,500 speak out on F-35 petition, leaders respond

A digital petition from Citizens for a Livable Boise has been delivered to city and state leaders with more than 1,500 signatures.

The story was first reported by Boise Guardian.

A BoiseDev analysis of the petition signatures shows 1,568 unique names (five numbers were skipped over).  Of those, the vast majority of signatories listed Boise as their home city - 1,398 names - or 89%.  Meridian, Garden City, Nampa and Caldwell made up for 73 more names - and 97 were from a variety of other places.

Citizens for Livable Boise petition responses

Breakdown of cities listed by respondants to a petition against the F-35 by Citizens for Livable Boise

After reading through the long list of names, you will likely recognize many if you grew up or live on the Bench.

The comments attached to the petition range from the short to the outraged to the thoughtful.

"I don't want jet noise over my house!," Frank Blue of Boise wrote.

"These jets have no place in a metropolitan area. The negative impact(s) are astounding. Mountain Home is a much more viable option," Debra Gallagher of Boise noted.

Emily Hokett warns the F-35 would harm her business.

"I own a house at ground zero," she wrote - apparently referring to the area near the airport.  "I am a 39-year-old entrepreneur who makes my income from my Airbnb that I run out of my home. This is a main source of income for me. I believe if the F35 are to come to Boise, it will destroy what Boise stands for. We are a community united by our community.

She ended her plea in all caps: "PLEASE DON'T DESTROY MY FAMILY AND MY HOUSE!!!"

Megan Roberts of Boise echoed the city's vision statement in her comment (Our vision: to make Boise the most livable city in the nation).

"We work hard to keep Boise a very livable City, that is what makes this place so special and attractive to newcomers and long-time residents alike. Please don't ruin the quietude we still have as a Western community, the jets belong somewhere where they won't shatter the peace of mind of thousands of residents as they go through routine practices."

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Leaders respond

BoiseDev reached out to each Idaho recipient of the Citizens for Livable Boise petition and letter.

Gov. Butch Otter: “I’ve been studying issues surrounding the F-35 and the opportunity to base a squadron in Idaho for a number of years now. I understand the concerns but believe any challenges can be overcome and that Gowen Field is among the best places anywhere to locate these aircraft.”

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter in a letter in response to the petition released to BoiseDev: "Input from community members is vital and we greatly appreciate your interest in this issue and taking the time to send us the petition.  While the City of Boise does support a replacement flying mission at Gowen Field, the decision… will be made by the United States Air Force.  The City of Boise has no say over what aircraft can or cannot fly in and out of Gowen Field."

The Mayor went on to detail a number of what he called "inaccuracies" that his office felt compelled to correct, including:

  • Noting Mtn. Home is "ineligible for this National Guard mission" because it is an active duty base, not a National Guard base.
  • That the F-35 mission would "result in less than 10 minutes of audible IDANG aircraft activity per day" - which the mayor contends is similar to the current A-10 mission.
  • No homes would be "uninhabitable" or condemned. 
  • You can read the full letter here.

The mayor ends the letter on a conciliatory note: "We do understand the concern some residents have for this current proposed flying mission, and we are working on ways to mitigate those challenges if Gowen Field is selected. One thing that can be prominently seen by both those who are in support of the proposed mission and by those opposed is just how passionate and caring the people of Boise are for their city and its future."  He then says he hopes everyone will remain respectful and show support for National Guard members at Gowen Field.

Idaho Commerce Director Megan Ronk: "Idaho Commerce is committed to retaining and growing jobs across Idaho and the F-35 mission presents a tremendous economic opportunity for the Treasure Valley and the state. While the Idaho Air National Guard has been flying at Gowen Field for over 70 years and is responsible for 2,800 jobs for families stretching across southern Idaho, their impact serving our state and protecting our country is immeasurable and deserving of our full support. We respect the concerns of this group of citizens but, rather than speculate with unfounded claims, we eagerly await the environmental impact study process at which time we will have a complete and current factual report on the impact of this potential mission."

From Lindsay Nothern, Sen. Mike Crapo's spokesperson: "We have not seen the petition but Crapo supports the F-35 efforts."

Spokespeople for Sen. Risch, Rep. Simpson and Rep. Labrador did not respond to requests for comment.