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LOCAL UPDATES AROUND
THE COUNTY

February 18, 2021

TL;DR

  • Kootenai County needs to pay for a justice facility and there's two options below, which unfortunately is a "Least Worst Case Scenario" set of options. The Commissioners are also thinking about starting town halls.
  • Post Falls has approved the Pleasant View Annexation. They are also thinking about starting town halls.
  • The City of Coeur d'Alene has an alcohol violation problem outside the downtown bars at night. More violent arrests are being made, and there's a concern that violence will escalate due to the types of people frequenting establishments.

A few noted discussions.

As the State Legislature is still in session, we have been watching our local leaders wait to see what's coming out of Boise before making any heavy decisions. In the meantime, there have been some smaller, yet weighty, discussions that need to be called out. I'm just going to give a quick update on a few of the notable discussions, if you would like to know more information I'll link to those discussion videos so that you may watch them in their entirety.
 

Kootenai County

Discussions are going on about how to pay for the facilities expansion that HAS to be done. There are two options:

  1. Put the a bond initiative on the May 2021 ballot and, if passed, there will be about a $1 tax on everyone’s property taxes for the next few years.
  2. If the bond DOESN’T pass on the ballot, the other option is to lease the land to a bank, bank builds the building, and the county pays a monthly “rent” to the bank until the building is built and paid off (with interest, of course). If the county defaults on the lease, the land goes to the bank. That money the county would be using for the second option would be passed onto the property taxes of residents of Kootenai County. That extra property tax would just be more money and take longer to pay off instead of a direct bond.

 
Those are the only two options: small tax for the next two years or larger tax for the next however many years it takes to pay off the building. I wish I was the bearer of better news.
 
The other thing of note being discussed with the Commissioners this week (so far) is potential monthly town halls to educate the residents of not only the bond issues, but other questions the public may have about the elected officials and the jobs they handle. With the amount of growth happening in this area, there’s a lot of miscommunication and the Commissioners want to be as transparent as possible.
 

Post Falls

Pleasant View Annexation and associated industrial zone has been approved. The associated industrial zone the council is referring to is a more “transitional” zone to go from light industrial, commercial, and residential areas. This zone ties directly back to the comprehensive Post Falls Urban Renewal District plan.

Also, Post Falls City Council is mulling over the idea of starting monthly town halls to help different topics that seem to be hot issues right now. Some topics include what the city can and can’t do to “discourage” growth, fair & affordable housing, rent control, etc. They DO NOT want to do an open forum setting like last weekend’s legislative town hall, with over 400 people shoulder to shoulder in a room with NO MASKS. Oh the horror! Look for some information videos and graphics being added to the city’s Facebook page to start the process of getting information out. If you would like to encourage the City to put on town hall sessions, please fill out the public comment form with your thoughts.
 

Coeur d’Alene

There is quite the issue in the City of Coeur d’Alene right now and the influx of out of town people coming to the bars downtown. People are getting extremely intoxicated, getting kicked out of downtown bars, and then are on the streets where the CDA Police have to deal with the disturbances that are being caused. This used to be a Friday & Saturday night issue ONLY but now it’s an every-night-of-the-week issue. Not only is there an uptick of intoxication and noise disturbance reports nightly, but there’s also more gang-related arrests and sexual battery arrests. The CDA Police are worried that because Idaho is “more open” than Spokane, a lot of people are coming from Spokane, and with them come the “bad types” of people with gang affiliations or those wanting to consciously do “bad” things. They’re also concerned that the violence will be tragically escalated if they don’t get a handle on the issues NOW.
 
The Idaho State Police has been working with the CDA Police to help with these issues and they agree with the Police’s assessment.
 
What’s the solution?
There’s no set solution right now. There was council discussion about a possible curfew, adding more police, and having the owners add more security, but nothing has come to fruition right now. Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White will be coming back to the board at the next council meeting with examples of ordinances that other cities in Idaho have been doing to try and stave off these alcohol violations.
 
In the meantime, the CDA Police and Idaho State Police will be working with the bar owners – who have been phenomenal in partnering with the police – to try and prevent escalated issues. Training will be provided for bartenders and security through the police department to help them be situationally aware and education.

If you would like to watch Chief White’s alcohol violations presentation and accompanied body cam video, please click the video above. I found it enlightening and concerning about the downtown CDA area; we all like to go downtown for gatherings every once in a while and it sounds like it’s getting dangerous to the point that people start to stay away. What do we do about it? Do we let the police and city deal with this? Do we add a curfew and have that affect the bars’ business? Do we do the June thing and have patriots patrol the streets for an added presence? I don’t think there’s one set answer here and this may be an issue where we all have to come together and help in whatever way we can.
 
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