Last week we alerted you to Senate Bill 1044 that would prohibit the use of eminent domain for “trails, paths, greenways or other ways for walking, running, hiking, bicycling or equestrian use, unless adjacent to a highway, road or street.” Unfortunately the bill passed the Senate on Monday and has been referred to the House Local Government Committee. We believe this bill unnecessarily ties the hands of local governments to develop transportation options fairly.
Now the effort starts over again. If you’re concerned about this issue, please contact your Representatives and let them know that good walking and biking facilities are necessary for safe transportation in your community.
Note: the Senators who voted against the bill might appreciate your thanks for their vote: Buckner-Webb, Burgoyne, Cameron, Heider, Hill, Johnson, Lacey, Lakey, McKenzie, Schmidt, Stennett, Ward-Engelking, Winder.
Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, the bill sponsor, argues that separate pedestrian and bicycle facilities are nice but not necessary for safe travel. Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, voted against the bill saying that some communities rely on pedestrian and bicycle facilities. “In some communities it’s part of their transportation infrastructure; it gets people off highways and promotes health, safety and welfare.”
- Pedestrian and bike paths are necessary to provide safe corridors that help children get to school, allow commuters access to work, provide people access to shopping and dining.
- This is a solution looking for a problem; eminent domain has not been abused by local government in Idaho for greenways, we can only find two actual uses, both on the Boise River greenbelt, one was in 1966 and one was a “friendly condemnation” at the request of the landowner to aid them in the sale.
- The Boise River greenbelt is the gem of Boise’s nationally recognized park and trail system, with over 65,000 commute trips per year. And now communities throughout Idaho have greenbelts; they are valuable transportation corridors and economic development tools that attract new businesses, homeowners, and tourists to our communities. The “Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes” in the Silver Valley provides an annual economic boost to the region of $14 million.
- Eminent domain can only be used when it can be proven in court that it is the least harmful remedy and no other alternatives exist. This high bar protects the interests of property owners and ensures they receive fair market value for their land. There are also tax advantages allowing property owners to defer capital gains tax.
We urge you to contact your Representatives and ask them to vote against Senate Bill 1044. The names and email addresses of the members of the House Local Government Committee are provided below.