Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ada County Alliance

In June 2007, the Urban Land Institute came to Boise to look at the relationships between the cities and ACHD and subsequently published a report. One of the suggestions was to form an Alliance between the different jurisdictions to be a forum for the discussion of transportation issues.

Fast forward to March 2009 when a regular Alliance meeting was held. This one however, was mediated to allow the participants a sounding board to come up with ideas on how to make this Alliance really work. Apparently, it hasn't been doing so well up to now.

The Mayors of all six cities were in attendance as was the Chairman of the Ada County Commission and the President of ACHD. ACHD did not fare so well in the comments (of course, ACHD didn't fare very well in the original ULI report either notwithstanding the spin).

The Mayors feel ACHD is not responsive to their needs and concerns and that ACHD only wants to discuss things with the cities when ACHD needs them as during the recent election to increase vehicle registration fees. The Mayors want more communication, more input into decisions that affect transportation in their communities and to have ACHD treat them more as partners. Needless to say, there is a lack of trust between the cities and ACHD, which is unfortunate. However, these issues are all ones that arose during the ULI study and which were to be addressed by the Alliance.

On a positive note the Mayors did acknowledge that comprehensive land use plan changes done in the absence of ACHD participation are not good as they add to costs. Everyone also agreed that everyone's plans need to be shared, kept up to date and adhered to.

I was surprised, and pleased, to hear ACHD Commissioner Carol McKee say that the Commission had discussed in December a program to provide a portion of ACHD funding for cities to direct to needs within their communities and would bring that forward to all in April 2009. This is something the cities have long asked for and would cause ACHD to function somewhat as a city's street department which, they, of course, gave up when ACHD was created. Currently, cities get a lot of complaints from citizens with no way of addressing those complaints short of saying go ask ACHD.

This was a great meeting. Hopefully, it will finally allow the Alliance to function as it was supposed to originally. Maybe the $100,000 plus spent on the study will actually be well spent.

Oops - forgot to mention that this meeting was not taped. It's a shame because this had a lot of good info come out that may end up being lost. But I did take copious notes so.....


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