Boise considers easing homeowner restrictions on livable back-houses, basements, garages

Could we be seeing more AirBnB-type rentals? Boise is looking for feedback.
Posted at 9:23 PM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 19:17:27-05

BOISE, IDAHO — Idaho's lack of housing is especially prevalent in high-demand communities like Boise. As a result, the city is weighing possible solutions.

As more Boiseans than ever struggle to find an affordable place to live, the city is looking to generate more supply for a growing demand.

"People are fleeing other cities that have already gone through this whole growth pattern...and then they hear about how great Boise is, and how it's such an undiscovered jewel!" said Lorie Dicaire, Founder, Vanishing Boise.

City leaders are looking to generate more supply for a growing demand.

Now, the city is proposing to make it easier for homeowners to rent out their back-house or ADU-- Acessory Dwelling Unit-- a fancy way of referring to that second, smaller, livable unit on a property that is already occupied by a single-family home..

"And that avoids the sprawl that everyone detests, ya know, and creating walkable livable neighborhoods where people don't have to get in their car to go get a gallon milk," said Mike Journee, Spokesperson, City of Boise.

Currently, regulations require that the property owner must also live on site. Now, the city is considering removing this requirement-- which may in turn provide an incentive for more AirBnB-type rentals.

"People do it all across the city right now, and so it's not, it's not something that is a problem that we have seen," said Journee.

"The story is you have like a bachelor party or a bachelorette party at an AirBnB, and it's like ya know, here you are, you bought a home in a nice neighborhood and you try to put your child to sleep and then there's a big raging party going on next door," said Dicaire.

The city is also considering removing the current one-bedroom limit for ADUs.

"Right now, if someone was having a party like that, just, nearby, there's remedies for that you call, you call the police department," said Journee.

"Well I guess you could call the police if it gets bad enough, but sometimes these things can be handled with neighbors," said Dicaire.

All of this, Journee says, would be intended to have a beneficial effect on the affordable housing crisis by maximizing use of land.

Dicaire says she appreciates those efforts, but has concerns for how it may change Boise's neighborhood feel.

"Like, lockboxes show up and like all, every house around you, and you realize like you're the only one on the block that lives in the house, and all the rest are just defacto hotels," said Dicaire.

"We don't see a lot of challenges with the existing short-term rentals in our community. Having said that, we don't want to create a scenario where uh, where it becomes very pervasive and overwhelming," said Journee,

The city, however, is looking for ways to get the most out of their land, and lifted restrictions could mean that more working residents could afford to live in Boise.

The city is also considering int easing up on current on-site parking requirements and maximum size restrictions.

If you'd like to weigh in, you can do so here.