BOISE — A local real estate agent is shooting for a seat on Boise City Council with the goal of substantially changing the city’s direction on a few major initiatives.
Chris Moeness, 33, launched his campaign last week, but has not yet specified which of the three seats he is running for. His bid for office is centered around backing off the main library project in favor of other projects, slowing the rate of additional funding for public transportation until ridership rises, and giving more assistance to first time homebuyers.
Moeness said he was largely motivated to run because he wants to help keep Boise from growing out of its friendliness and the laid-back lifestyle he fell in love with as a new resident in 2008.
“When people spoke about Boise there was this immense amount of pride in their voice, as if it was their most prized possession,” he said. “I’d never lived in a place that has that sense of pride. It is still around today, but it is shadowed by a real fear we could lose what makes Boise special.”
Moeness has been working in real estate in Boise for over five years and currently works with Sotheby’s International Realty. He moved to Boise from North Dakota to attend Boise State University, but only completed a portion of a business degree before moving to Washington to work in restaurant management for Red Lobster. After a few years, he missed Boise and returned back to the Treasure Valley.
He said instead of focusing on pushing the construction of the proposed $85 million main library in downtown Boise, the city should redirect those funds to affordable housing programs or other initiatives to spread services around the entire city.
“As far as the library goes, there’s much better things we can do to improve the library,” he said. “I would support expanding services, such as hours at all of the branch locations, specifically on weekends, rather than building one overpriced library in downtown Boise.”
On housing, Moeness said he generally supports the city’s Grow Our Housing initiative to add more housing stock to keep up with growth, but he hoped for more concrete details by now. In 2018, the city announced it is working toward establishing a $20 million affordable housing land trust, but the details are still being worked out. Officials are also working on changes to zoning that would make single-family neighborhoods slightly denser, and would change how shopping centers, which planners call “activity centers,” are zoned to allow for mixed-use development.
“(The Grow Our Housing plan) talks about establishing a housing land trust, but is that established?” he said. “What do we need to do to establish that? (The plan also mentions) public and private partnerships. We have potential partners, but what do we need to do to get those partnerships and move forward on housing?”
Currently Boise uses federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help low-income residents purchase homes, but Moeness said he would also like to see some of the city’s general fund be used for this program.
Another issue dogging Boise is transportation. In the past year, Boise City Council has voted to change the formula for how much of its general fund goes to Valley Regional Transit, and voted to infuse an additional $1.8 million into the budget to add more bus service.
Moeness said the concept of dumping additional resources into VRT while ridership has not been high is troubling to him. Instead, he said the city should be using its resources to work with the Ada County Highway District to support its projects for widened roads and roundabouts at busy intersections in Boise.
“I think with any business you have to see your efforts pay off, and right now I don’t think (adding funding to VRT is) paying off, so I wouldn’t throw more money at it,” he said.
The other residents in the race are Jimmy Hallyburton, Brady Fuller, Debbie Lombard-Bloom, Tecle Gebremichael, Troy Minton, Brittany Scigliano, Meredith Stead, Karen Danley and Patrick Bageant. Minton and Danley have declared they are running for Seat 1, and Stead is chasing Seat 3. No other candidates have announced which seat they will pursue. City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg is running for reelection for Seat 5. The window to file as a candidate opens Aug. 26.