Friday, March 14, 2014

Mother of monstrosities

    The bill should have been titled “Mother of Monstrosities.”
    Approved by Idaho’s House of Representatives, HB 480 would strip cities and counties of the ability to control the “design aesthetics or beautification beyond surface finishes” of buildings constructed within their jurisdictions.
    The vote was 50-17, with local District 26 Reps. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, and Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, rightly opposed.
    If the Senate agrees and the governor signs the bill, the new law would prevent cities or counties from refusing to permit construction of architectural monstrosities in any Idaho downtown or neighborhood. They could be built despite the predictable adverse effects they would have on the values of adjacent properties or on how the larger community operates.
    The bill would prevent a community from following in the steps of Leavenworth, Wash., which transformed itself from a poor dying mining town into a prosperous replica of a Bavarian village visited by thousands of people each year.
    Idaho’s Legislature has spent boatloads of staff and legal time setting up committees, drafting resolutions and spouting off about the injustice of a federal government that will not allow the state to control everything from public lands to health care for the poor. It’s an article of faith among Republicans, repeated in campaign after campaign, that control should lie at the state level and that Big Brother federal government should butt out.
    Yet, when it comes to state vs. municipal and county governments, the House sings a different song. The fact that a huge majority of its members see no irony in this illustrates a disgraceful disdain for the welfare of our cities and citizens in replacing democratic processes with the tyranny of a minority.

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