local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Aug 28 - Sept 3, 2002


Valley needs regional planning authority

If the Wood River Valley is not to become a victim of poor planning and thoughtless sprawl, a regional planning authority with some clout must be established soon.

Blaine County and the Wood River Valley are facing enormous growth pressure.

The valley once consisted of four separate communities connected by a ribbon of highway bordered by fields of sagebrush.

No more. The fields of sagebrush have become subdivisions. Cities are more closely related and dependent on one another than ever before. Decisions made in Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Blaine County affect all.

The cities and the county employ planners, but the planners can influence only pieces of the valley development picture.

That creates problems.

For example, Ketchum and Sun Valley did nothing for years while property values skyrocketed and workers were forced to relocate south to find housing they could afford.

The lack of action is boomeranging.

Traffic on State Highway 75 is bumper to bumper from Bellevue to Ketchum during the morning and evening commutes.

Workers who live south of Ketchum and Sun Valley want a bigger highway to get them to work faster and easier.

That will create a problem in Ketchum.

A bigger highway will make it easier to drive to work from a distant home—for awhile. Then, the easier commute will generate more housing farther from Ketchum and Sun Valley. The result? Traffic jams again, and delivery of more cars to Ketchum that it can ever park.

Are planners talking about this? A little, but they can’t do much without political leadership.

Are elected officials anywhere but Ketchum talking about it? No.

Why should they? Because every city’s action affects the others.

If Ketchum institutes paid parking, use of the new Peak Bus System will mushroom. Hailey and Bellevue will come under pressure to provide land for parking for commuters.

A good regional planning board with representatives from all cities and the county could master plan the entire area, anticipate problems, and look for solutions before the problems become acute.

With a regional planning board, Bellevue would not have been taken by surprise by Blaine County’s plan to designate areas bordering the city for transfers of density from southern farmlands.

A regional planning board could help Bellevue with the water supply problems that make it reluctant to accept higher densities on its borders. It could anticipate the valley’s transit and housing needs, and offer up solutions that will keep the valley livable and attractive.

If the valley continues piecemeal planning, it risks finding out that what today’s planners say is a snake is really an elephant, which has settled in and made itself at home.



Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.