Boise Mayor McLean talks climate action, police funding, and preventing homelessness after 'State of the City Address'

Posted at 7:56 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 11:47:38-04

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday night, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean gave her first State of the City Address -- albeit virtually -- after a first nine months in office marked by turmoil from effects of a pandemic and beyond.

In a sit-down interview with McLean on Thursday, Idaho News 6 set out to learn more on how she plans to ensure the welfare of residents moving forward, particularly in the areas of climate conservation, racial justice, and housing in the City of Trees.

“COVID changed so much, so quickly,” said McLean in her address.

One thing's for sure: times are tough right now. Unfortunately this is especially for true for Boise’s most vulnerable residents.

“I know that we are struggling," said McLean in our Thursday meeting.

That’s why in her State of the City address, McLean made mention of a "housing land trust" she’s established that aims to increase the number of affordable homes.

“A great example of what we’ve done so far, is the proposed neighborhood at Franklin and Orchard. That was city land that we put out for R.F.P. and asked for proposals," said McLean.

But preventing homelessness, she said, is also her focus.

“There’s no one solution, and we’ve gotta keep people that are in homes -- in their homes," said McLean. "And so we’ve partnered with Jesse Tree to prevent eviction, we’ve partnered with CATCH."

Her passion in the fight against climate change was also made clear in her address, pointing out that she's established a Climate Action Division.

She told us she is even more motivated to act, given the west coast's recent wildfires and the resulting poor air quality in Southwestern Idaho.

“It makes even more clear to me and our residents that we need leadership around a transition to clean energy and adapting in a climate-constrained world," said McLean.

She vowed to make the City of Boise carbon-neutral by 2035.

“And we’ll do that by looking at our fleet, how we build out our geothermal," said McLean.

Another defining characteristic of this year, so far: police accountability and the fight for racial justice.

“I’m committed to working with the community to hear their concerns, to working with the police department to do our best to address them," said McLean.

Amid calls this year from Black Lives Matter protesters to "defund the police," McLean and her council increased the police budget by 1.7 percent.

“And those new positions that were created have been assigned to a mental health unit, recognizing that there are needs in the community," said McLean.

She said she’s doing all she can to invest in the community policing model.