CDA City Council Recap 2/21/23
Last night was the latest Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting and there were a lot of spicy items on the agenda:
Coeur Terre Annexation and Land Development Agreement
There were a few changes to the land development agreement that was discussed at the February 7th public hearing to include a few changes brought up by the public including:
Seven neighborhood streets that would be turned into thoroughfares, and
The illogical, greedy planning of putting a huge, medium/high density complex right next to a R-1 established neighborhood without a thought to the current residents of those neighborhoods.
At the end of the February 7th public hearing the only real direction the city council gave to the developers was basically “go fix these things.” The city council didn’t want to deny the 440-acre annexation and development outright because then they’d have to start the whole planning process over again and “that’s so much time,” and they didn’t want to approve it right away because enough of them saw that there were flaws in the rushing/merging of the annexation and land development agreement.
Fast forward to last night’s meeting. Dan Gookin started off by motioning to deny without prejudice before any updates were presented to the council. His reasoning was that more information was gathered after the public hearing was closed last time and gathering that new information is illegal under Idaho’s Open Meeting Laws. Gookin said that the city was opening themselves up to litigation if they took this new information that was to be presented and used it to make their decision without having a new public hearing is against the law. He called out city attorney Randy Adams for giving bad advice at the public hearing when he told the council that they can request the zoning be changed to something other than what was in the original plan without having another public hearing. Gookin said they shouldn’t have even had that advice because it would bring new information into the annexation/land development and without a public hearing the council is falling dangerously into litigation territory. Gookin specifically read Question 12 from the Idaho Open Meeting Law Manual:
After some back and forth discussion the council was split 3-3 to deny without prejudice before the update presentation so Mayor Hammond broke the tie, voting against the motion to deny, and allowed the city administrator to present the changes made in the two weeks between the public hearing and the meeting last night.
Two changes happened:
The developers changed the number of thoroughfares into the Coeur Terre complex from seven to two, using Nez Perce and Appaloosa as the main entrances to the eastern side of the complex. (Erin’s note: As one who lives off Appaloosa, there are always 3-4 cars on any given afternoon trying to turn onto Atlas from Appaloosa during the afternoon rush hour. With Appaloosa now planning on becoming a throughfare one could expect triple or quadruple the cars on any given afternoon, sufficiently making it less safe for the neighborhood children to walk along the street as most of that street does NOT have sidewalks. Same goes with Nez Perce.)
The developers feel that a 200-foot buffer to allow for a few R-3 houses in between the existing R-1 neighborhood and the R-8 planned development section was enough of a compromise between the single-family neighborhoods and the high-density complexes they intend to build.
There was also a new map added to the presentation; this map had the phases of development they were intending on using to build this new complex.
After the presentation was done, Amy Evans made a motion to approve the changes and allow the developers to start the complex but after discussion most of them basically came to the conclusion that they wished the developer had requested annexation and then the land development agreement at separate times instead of together in one fell swoop. Amy Evans rescinded her motion which gave Dan Gookin a chance to make his original motion again: to deny without prejudice. <<deny w/o prejudice>>
This time the motion passes and the Coeur Terre annexation AND land development will be going back to the drawing table for some slight changes before once again heading to the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.
Short Term Rental Code Changes
The other contentious topic of the evening was the potential short term rental (STR) changes. The city administration has noticed that there are far more STRs in the Coeur d’Alene city limits than what is currently permitted.
After the initial presentation in the October 24, 2022 workshop meeting, the city council approved a $38,093.87 contract with host compliance company, Granicus, to monitor the STRs operating and list out all those who are not permitted through the city.
Because there were so many more STRs operating than the city knew about and permitted, the city staff wanted to know how to handle things so they asked Planning & Zoning, and ultimately City Council, to give some clarification to the following questions:
These questions set up last night’s public hearing so the council can receive feedback about how to handle the influx of STRs.
An internal ad-hoc committee discussed what the city should do to handle the influx of STRs and get them permitted/validated through the city.
The ad-hoc committee suggested that the permit renewal fee be increased to $180/year to cover the cost of the Granicus contract. The original $96 permit fee was only to cover the cost of the staff time to process applications.
The ad-hoc committee also recommended that the city repeal the 14-day exemption (initially in the city code to allow for longer stays during Iron Man), and to add violation fees for STRs caught operating without a permit.
After A LOT of public comment and discussion between the council members, the city council decided to hold off on making any type of recommendation because the city *may* have put the cart before the horse and rushed directly to [potentially] changing the code.
Dan Gookin made some good points:
The city has to take into consideration the integrity of the neighborhood and the actual residents who live there. Also have to take into consideration the interests of the local residents over out of towners that want to come to CDA on vacation.
This is a very lucrative industry and there’s MANY more investment properties being turned into STRs instead of owner/occupied. Gookin says that as local government the city is there to regulate commercial investments as much as he hates saying it.
Cannot let this town be consumed as a hotel and we have to strike a balance between the people who live here and those who “make $10k per night in the summer.” “We have to strike a balance.”
In the end, the council wasn’t ready to proceed with the actions requested and need more time to discuss some sort of compromise with the permitting process, violation codes, and 14-day Iron Man exemption.
Also, just a funny side note that has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion at hand: Dan English mumblings are better when one can skip forward every 5 seconds on the YouTube stream. Also, amusing conversation during Dan English mumblings on the YouTube chat.
Fee Increases for Parks & Recreation, Planning & Zoning, and Water Departments. Including the Short Term Rental Permit Fee Increase.
There was a moratorium on STR permits between the January 20th public hearing press release and last night so that staff could know the thoughts of city council on how to proceed. Because the council has decided NOT to proceed with any of the code changes, the only thing left to decide was if they would allow the permit fee increase from $96 to $180 per year. All STR permits are on a March 1 – February 28 annual cycle but because of the short moratorium it’s been a little chaotic with the permits. Due to that 30-day moratorium and the public will only have 7 days to get approval of the permit and pay the increased fee, the council asked staff to extend the permit deadline from March 1 to April 1 only for this year. Next year it will go back to the March 1 deadline. No other fees, violation or otherwise, will be included in this recommendation.
All other fee amendments for Parks & Recreation, Planning & Zoning, and Water Departments were approved:
Parks & Recreation: Cemetery lots, internment, nameplates, etc.
Park Use: Gazebo/bandshell use, events, alcohol permit, etc.
Youth Recreation, league, field lighting, etc.
The city council skipped executive session and the meeting finally ended around 9:30pm, 4.5 hours after it started.