Sep 15, 2023
This is the second part of an article that discusses zoning and land use issues facing Hayden. The first part: Turbo Charging Multi-Family Housing, covered problems with Mixed Use Zoning and the Future Land Use Map.
Densifying Single Family Neighborhoods
Pro-growth Hayden planners spent most of 2022 rezoning hundreds of parcels from Hayden’s former Residential multi-family (R-MF) zone, to a new, similar Mixed Residential (MR) zone. There are some significant differences the two zone types, but both provide for a mix of single family, duplexes, and triplexes in medium density neighborhoods.
So what was the purpose of the time-consuming rezone of medium density to medium density? Why not just modify the existing R-MF zoning code if changes were needed? And why spend months reassuring everyone that MR is less dense than R-MF, and that it is limited to 8 dwellings per acre, when these claims are demonstrably false?
And furthermore, why is there no minimum lot size for triplexes in the MR code? And why did the city base its claim that MR density is limited to 8 dwellings per acre on a hastily added footnote, instead of providing statutory lot size minimums. And why, when P & Z asked why 4 & 5 unit townhomes were not allowed in MR, did the planning director say "To keep the changes gradual."?
All these questions answer themselves once you realize what MR zoning really is.
- The former R-MF zoning code allowed for duplexes and triplexes on parcels that were larger than single family lots.
- The new MR zoning code redefines lot sizes of duplexes and triplexes so that they can be built on existing single family lots.
The ultimate goal of the SMART growth planners is to end single family zoning entirely. But to do this they must provide a zoning code that allows for construction of multi-family homes on single family parcels. MR is that zoning code.
The standard SF lot size in Hayden is 8,250 sq ft., and as you can see, the lot sizes minimums for both duplexes and triplexes in the MR code are smaller than 8,250 sq ft. This means that MR could be used to systematically upzone every single-family neighborhood in Hayden if Idaho ever chose to outlaw “discriminatory zoning” (i.e. SF neighborhoods) How convenient. The politicians of many cities in CA, OR and WA have already done so.
Now that you know that Hayden’s new Mixed Residential (MR) zoning code is modeled on SMART Growth precepts, and that it is being promoted by officials who are aligned with the 2030 densification agenda, the deceit involved in the citywide upzone to MR is more understandable.
This chart shows that MR is denser than R-MF. It also shows that MR allows
more than 8 dwellings per acre based on lot size minimums.
The R-MF to MR UPZONE
There is no conflict that has done more to undermine our trust in Hayden’s government than contending with the constantly repeated false and intentionally misleading claims about densities involved in last year's R-MF to MR citywide rezone. These falsehoods included the following distortions:
- The old medium density zone, R-MF was higher density than the new zone, MR.
- MR was limited to 8 dwelling units per acre.
- The former Land Use Map allowed for higher densities than the current FLUM.
Save Hayden has written a number of articles debunking all these claims, including Are you Dense? Understanding Claims about Density and Objections to Hayden's R-MF to MR Upzone. But in spite of persistent effort to set the record straight, these distortions are still being repeated by city officials and pro-growth advocates.
The conflict between Save Hayden and the City administration over the R-MF to MR rezone started when anti-growth activists read the actual zoning code itself rather than listening to the assurances of the City Staff; and having read the code, concluded that there was no legal basis for claiming that MR densities were restricted to 8 dwellings per acre.
The claim of an 8 dwelling per acre density for MR was based on a hastily added footnote that flatly contradicted the zoning text, and was never part of the code itself.
This was not ambiguous or difficult to discern. The zoning code was perfectly clear, and the city staff was blatantly misrepresenting the law, in order to provide false assurances to residents who would be alarmed at an upzone. And after having been informed numerous times of the problem, all Council members other than Sandy White, played dumb and deferred to city officials.
Eventually the Law firm representing Hayden responded to the complaints, by producing a memo that justified the city's position. But the memo had just as many holes as the original zoning ordinance and was so poorly reasoned that the city's primary attorney would not sign it, and foisted the whole problem on a junior partner.
The articles that we have linked to above include density comparisons, graphs, and excerpts from the city's zoning codes that clarify the matter. The fact that city officials continue to falsely represent the densities of MR, and the true purpose of the rezone is disgraceful.
STANDARDS of APPROVAL for ZONING CHANGES
Another matter that came up during the R-MF to MR conflict was a controversy concerning the revised Standards of Approval (SOA) for rezone requests. The SOAs are another issue where carefully reading Hayden's revised (2021) Zoning Regulations revealed huge problems that were not acknowledged by city officials.
In short, the older Standards of Approval that had guided Hayden’s P & Z commission for years in matters regarding zone changes, were removed and new, much more lenient standards were adopted. And the new SOAs, not surprisingly, were nothing more than a rubber stamp for every developers request to upzone.
The problems with the SOA were first brought up in Public Commentary at the August 23, Hayden City Council meeting, and later discussed in Save Hayden article entitled P & Z Public Hearings are a Sham, Part II.
Fortunately the SOA controversy had a somewhat satisfactory conclusion, when one of the seven abrogated standards, allowing consideration of "Neighborhood Context" was added back into the Zoning Regulations. But not before yet another effort by Hayden's Attorney's to declare to city's former SOA as "Arbitrary and Capricious" was resisted.
A complete history of the SOA for Zoning Changes drama is included in the article Standards of Approval: An Acceptable Compromise. And the following chart shows both old and new standards side by side.
FIXING HAYDEN'S ZONING PROBLEMS
It is obvious that the problems with Hayden’s 2040 Comp Plan go beyond the over abundance of multi-family housing in the FLUM, and extend to the Zoning regulations themselves. It appears that whoever rewrote Hayden’s Title 11 zoning regulations did so with the explicit intention of minimizing resident influence over future growth.
In every case where laws were changed, the revised zoning regulations minimize the rights of citizens, expand the privileges of developers, and advance the visions of SMART growth central planners.
What can be done to restore balance to Hayden’s FLUM and zoning regulations?
In the previous article we discussed the necessity of reducing the amount of MU in the FLUM, and revising the Zoning Regulations so that all high density multi-family development requires a Special Use Permit and public hearing.
In this article we’ve discussed problems with the MR zoning code and the revised Standard of approval.
In summary, we believe the following changes will restore both the FLUM and the Title 11 Zoning Code to a condition that would allow for more gradual and considerate growth in line with the wishes of Hayden residents.
- Restore the former Standards of Approval for zoning changes and special use permits
- Modify code text for Mixed residential (MR) to specify a minimum lot size for triplexes and townhomes that exceeds existing R1 zoning.
- Reduce the proposed amount of Mixed Use zoning in the FLUM.
- Restore multi-family as a “Special Use” for Commercial zoning.
These changes will advance the City’s goal of allowing for a “variety of housing types”, while respecting the property rights of existing land-owners, and protecting single family neighborhoods. Overall, a win for everyone.
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