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‘The pace of growth is too fast.’ Boise State survey sheds light on SW Idaho concerns

Fast in the Morning

Boise State is out with its third annual Treasure Valley Survey, and the results show a spike in concern over the pace of growth in the Boise metro area.

The survey, unlike others on local issues issued recently, uses statistically valid methods. It is indexed to the population of Ada, Canyon, Boise, Gem and Owyhee counties with more than 1,000 respondents. The survey used landline, cell phone, email and text messaging.

Survey highlights

  • 72% of residents said they believe “the pace of growth is too fast.”
    • That’s a big increase from just two years ago when 50% responded the same way.
  • 59.1% said they would “support efforts to slow down land development, even if this meant having less economic growth.”
    • Boise State’s survey anslysis: “the results suggest that citizens are willing to accept some perceived negative consequences in exchange for less development.”
  • 66% said traffic and congestion were a “big problem.”
    • Canyon County residents are more likely than Ada County residents to cite traffic issues – 72% in the 2C versus 63% in 1A.
  • 60.4% say affordable housing falls into the big problem bucket
    • “Younger people were more likely than older people to identify the lack of affordable housing as a big problem.”
    • 72% aged 25-34 said it was an issue, just 41% aged 75-84

Growth

Courtesy Boise State University SPS

Since we started covering growth and development on BoiseDev in 2016, we have increasingly heard about and covered the concern. The Boise State survey puts data behind the anecdotal feeling. A sharp increase in residents think the area is growing too fast, and the number of people who think it is “about right” has dropped. Just two years ago opinion on growth was nearly split, but now most folks are worried about the pace.

[BoiseDev 2016: Survey: Boise is growing at right pace; option tax faces mixed popularity]

The majority of those polled felt their local government did not have enough funding to deal with future growth – 57.6%.

Courtesy Boise State University SPS
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“Older respondents were more likely than younger ones to believe that the local government had enough funding (33% of those between 75-84 compared to 19% of those from 18-24), and Republicans were more likely than Democrats to believe that governments have enough funding (28% of Republicans compared to 14% of Democrats),” the survey writers noted.

When survey takers asked about how they felt their local government was handling growth, a plurality rated it as “fair” – 38%, while 31% said poor. 24% said good and 4% rated the performance as excellent.

Traffic and transit

The Boise State survey showed respondents “expressed a general desire for more public transit options,” with 73% saying the area could use more public transit. The support cuts across party lines, with 89% of Democrats supporting more public transit, and 64% of Republicans.

  • 54% said Valley Regional Transit should spend more, with 23% saying the agency should spend the same, and 9% saying the spending should be cut.
  • How to pay for it?
    • 31.3% said no tax increase
    • 23.6% said a sales tax
    • 10.8% said property tax
    • 19.3% said either

When asked about a sales tax increase, residents are split on a rate.

Courtesy Boise State University SPS
  • 29.2% said no additional sales tax
  • 14.2% supported 1/4 cent per dollar
  • 17.5% said 1/2 cent per dollar
  • 30.3% said 1 cent per dollar

Property tax increases were less popular overall (something Gov. Brad Little echoed in his interview with BoiseDev last month).

Courtesy Boise State University SPS
  • 41.3% said no additional property tax
  • 19.1% said $25 per year
  • 6.3% said $35 per year
  • 13.2% said $50 per year
  • 12.2% said $100 per year

Many local officials, including the mayors of both Boise and Nampa support the idea of a local option tax. Such a plan would give residents the ability to vote for a sales tax increase. This is not allowed under Idaho law except in resort areas.

The survey shows support “essentially unchanged” over the past three years. In the 2018 survey, 65% of Treasure Valley residents supported the idea of a local option.

Courtesy Boise State University SPS

When residents are then asked if they would actually be OK with implementing the option tax, responses get more muddled.

  • 48.3% strongly or somewhat favor a local option tax
  • 38.7% strongly or somewhat oppose a local option tax
  • Crucially, 13% said they don’t know or refuse.
Courtesy Boise State University SPS

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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