Lost in the 50s
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer Outback Boal
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
News from the desk of the Mayor:
Lunch With the Mayor: Balancing Growth, Community and Quality of Life
I want to thank everyone who came to the first “Lunch With the Mayor” at Cedar St. Bistro on the last Thursday in October. We had a great discussion on many issues related to quality of life, affordability, growth and the economy.
There was much discussion about recent changes to the short-term rental ordinance. Sandpoint has taken the lead statewide in developing a short-term rental ordinance that preserves the historic character of our neighborhoods while protecting long-term rental homes and keeps rents down. This is still a work in progress, as Council had a workshop last Wednesday to refine the ordinance. The goal is to create an ordinance that gives greater flexibility to homeowners and creates greater equity and consistency in enforcement. I’m confident we can strike the right balance giving homeowners potential income through short-term rental while protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods. Council will consider a revised ordinance in January.
Sidewalks were also discussed at length. The City has always been challenged on how to fund and encourage construction of sidewalks. The most affordable and definitive solution is a city-wide bond that could be paid off over a generation. I suspect this would be a politically challenging initiative that would require 2/3 voter approval. I’m investigating the issue in hopes that we can find alternatives to sidewalk requirements and funding mechanisms that provide greater incentive for homeowner participation. Ultimately, the goal is a complete sidewalk network city-wide.
There was also much discussion about workforce housing and growth. We need growth if we are to have employment opportunities, particularly for younger people and families. Without economic growth and vitality, Sandpoint could become a retirement community for only the wealthy. We also don’t want Sandpoint to grow too much so that we lose the quality of life that attracts us here in the first place. We don’t want crowded streets, parks, parking, long commutes, increased crime and strains on public safety resources. Yet to sustain economic vitality, we need more housing options that are affordable for working families, young people and elderly on fixed incomes. We want more patrons supporting local businesses so they thrive year round. Striking the perfect balance is the key to Sandpoint’s success. The City is doing this through proactive zoning and good urban planning.
Our talk ended with a discussion about my vision for Sandpoint. Balanced growth was at the center of that discussion. The City is addressing growth head on with the current Comprehensive Plan Sub-area Review around the UI-Boyer Property. The City has hosted 4 workshops and public hearings since September inviting the public to envision the community’s highest and best aspirations for the future development of the region east of the airport. Overwhelmingly, the public has expressed greatest interest in using the property for recreation, open space and wetland conservation. Other desired uses included workforce housing, mixed commercial use, and education. All of these priorities support a vision for Sandpoint that accommodates balanced growth, a thriving economy, ensures affordability and preserves our quality of life. Additional workshops will be held in 2018 to consider future development of the UI property based on input from the nearly complete sub-area review. Your participation will make the project a success.
Separate from this effort is a citizen led visioning for a community recreation center. Identified in our Parks Master Plan, a rec center has long been a community aspiration. Over the last few years, an informal YMCA citizen advisory council has formed to explore the possibility of a rec center in the region. The citizen advisory council envisions the project on the current UI Boyer property, a central location with great connectivity and integration with residential and recreational use. A rec center would offer affordable, year round recreation opportunities for residents and visitors improving quality of life, create jobs and support local economic growth. In response, last week City Council approved a grant funded feasibility study to assess public interest and support for such a facility in Sandpoint. I encourage you to let your voice be heard on this issue at future UI property workshops.
Lunch with the Mayor is an open invitation over lunch hour to discuss issues important to Sandpoint. Please join me on the last Thursday, November 30th, from 12-1pm at Cedar St. Bistro to discuss issues vital to Sandpoint’s continued success.
Shelby Rognstad was born and raised in Lewiston, Idaho. A fourth generation Idahoan, Shelby moved to Sandpoint in 1999. Shelby first came here to practice permaculture after graduating with a liberal arts degree from the University of Idaho in 1998. In 2006, he opened Common Knowledge Bookstore and Café. In addition to selling new and used books, it served breakfast and lunch using locally sourced and organic foods. In 2013, Shelby co-founded The Hive, an entertainment venue in downtown Sandpoint. Since 2012, Shelby has worked in real estate holding and private lending in North Idaho and Eastern Washington.
Shelby served on the steering committee and Board of Directors for Sandpoint Transition Initiative (2007-2008) and has supported other local nonprofits, including Sandpoint Community Radio, the Public Forum on Sustainability, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper and the Eureka Institute. He practices yoga and Vipassanā Meditation and has volunteered at Vipassanā Meditation Centers in Washington, British Columbia and Puerto Rico. He is active year round in sports and outdoor activities.
Shelby’s public service began in 2007 when he was appointed to the Sandpoint Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. In 2009, he was appointed to the Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission. He served as Vice Chair until he was appointed to the City Council by Mayor Ogilvie on January 18, 2012. Shelby was elected City Council President in February of 2014. In November of 2015, he was elected Mayor and was sworn in on January 6, 2016.
Education and Workforce Training:
While in office, Mayor Rognstad intends to work with employers, educators and community leaders to develop workforce training and higher education opportunities in Sandpoint. The Mayor recognizes the importance and value of North Idaho College and the PTECH (Pathways to Technology in Early College High School) program in Sandpoint. Sandpoint is fortunate to have excellent options in K-12 education. However, more needs to be done to foster greater opportunities for youth and to develop an educated, skilled workforce in Sandpoint’s growing technology and health care industries. For these reasons, supporting PTECH and the growth of NIC locally are high priorities.
In recent years, Sandpoint has seen significant growth in technology related industries. Aerospace, biomedical and information technology, in particular, have taken a foothold. High tech employers provide high paying jobs that serve a global market. The result is an increasingly diversified economy that ensures economic stability. The Mayor intends to continue to support these growing industries and attract new employers to Sandpoint. By serving the needs of existing companies and leveraging assets, the City will retain quality employers and attract the right kind of growth and development in the future.
Mayor Rognstad is committed to improving the quality of life in Sandpoint. This requires a commitment to sustaining environmental health for which Sandpoint has taken many steps in recent years. We’ve partnered with Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper to develop an herbicide-free weed management program for the lake. We’ve created a city-wide zoning code which encourages multimodal connectivity, energy efficiency, community oriented design and reduces our carbon footprint. Looking forward, the Mayor intends to reduce herbicide use in city parks, complete the implementation of the City’s storm water management plan and ensure long term protection of the City’s watershed.
From the mountain to the lake, Sandpoint boasts many recreational opportunities. Residents and visitors alike have long enjoyed the benefits of our signature assets: Lake Pend Oreille and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. However, recent additions like the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, the Sand Creek Trail and the Watershed Crest Trail have been welcomed additions to our world class park system. Mayor Rognstad will continue to develop opportunities like these in the future.