City of Ketchum
P.O. Box 2315
480 East Avenue N.
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
"Small Town, Big Life"

October 29, 2015
In This Issue
A Message From Mayor Nina Jonas: Do You Want More or Less Parking Downtown?

Nina Parking is a big deal in the design of a community. "The average car spends about 80% of the time parked at home, is parked elsewhere for about 16% of the time, and is thus only actually in use (i.e. moving) for the remaining 3-4% of the time." (Bates & Leibling, 2012, p. vi). One can conclude then that the more convenient it is to park, the more cars and vehicular congestion. The less convenient it is to park, the fewer cars in circulation.
Parking regulations and requirements placed on the development and business community affect the design and functionality of Ketchum. The higher the parking requirement, the more convenient it is to access town via personal vehicle. This results in more road congestion and less incentive to walk, bike or utilize public transit. As driving is made more and more convenient, it makes less and less sense to invest in sidewalks or Mountain Rides bus service. Also, Ketchum's parking requirements are based on use. Therefore, they influence the type of construction that occurs because of the feasibility of constructing on-site parking and the return on investment.
On the flip side, lenient parking requirements allow developers and businesses to rely on public parking instead of providing their own on-site parking. This will limit the amount of available parking throughout town, making it less convenient to drive and more convenient to walk, bike or ride public transit. Yet it will also make the land more valuable and more likely to be redeveloped. Prime properties for redevelopment could be those that have not maximized the lot square footage into buildings, such as Bigwood Bread's downtown café, Elephant's Perch or Java.
In my opinion, auto congestion in Ketchum is at undesirable levels during many months of the year, infringing on the pedestrian and bicycle experience. I am attracted to a community and retail experience that I can access on foot and rarely go to a mall or box store because they lack an authentic and unique experience. Also I enjoy the spontaneous camaraderie I gain from walking around town and seeing something new or having a brief conversation as compared to the angst I get from driving and parking. I would like to see more density in the community core and more public transit routes to add convenience for those not within an easy walk to town. I also appreciate the old elements of our town and would like to see them remain viable and not redeveloped into a unified look. At the same time, cars and the need for parking are a modern reality and investments in a parking garage, paid parking and transit systems should be explored as potential methods to maintain an authentic town feel with multi-modal options.
Who should provide parking for the customers, owners and employees of a building: the developer, the public or a combination? Should these requirements be based on the use of the building - retail, office or housing - or on the zone - community core, light industrial or residential? These are the elements the city will be assessing over the next few months with public meetings coming in winter 2016. We are eager to learn your experience and what you would like to see for the future of Ketchum. Please let us know.


Has Ketchum looked into ranked-choice voting for future City Council elections?
Ketchum is evaluating the possibility, including the fact that state legislation would be required to make it possible.

Ranked-choice voting, or "instant run-off voting," allows voters to rank up to three candidates in order of preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.) when marking their ballots. With ranked-choice voting, if a candidate receives a majority (more than 50 percent) of the first-choice votes cast for that office, that candidate is elected.
However, if no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, an elimination process begins. Typically, the candidate who received the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and each vote cast for that candidate is transferred to the voter's next-ranked choice among the remaining candidates. This elimination process continues until one candidate receives a majority and is deemed the winner. Ranked-choice voting eliminates the need for run-off elections.
This method of voting has been adopted for municipal elections in the California cities of Berkeley, San Francisco, San Leandro and Oakland; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; and Takoma Park, Md. It also is used for mayoral elections in Telluride, Colo.
Idaho law sets forth the electoral process for cities such as Ketchum. Like most states, Idaho has a plurality rule for elections. That means that in races in which there are more than two candidates, the candidate with the most votes wins. In order to change the electoral process for Ketchum, state legislation would be required. We'll talk with Council in January about this and other state initiatives. 

Do you have a question for Mayor Nina Jonas?

Note: If you submit a question to "Ask Nina," your name may be published unless you request that it be withheld.

Ketchum plans to invest more than $700,000 this fiscal year in new sidewalks and street lighting, which will work together to make the city a more "walkable" and sustainable community.
As we try to reduce reliance on vehicles powered by fossil fuels, sidewalks are an important component in encouraging people to park their cars once and walk from activity to activity rather than drive from place to place.
The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency will share in the city's costs up to $354,575. In 2017, the city will receive its Community Choices for Idaho grant for $175,000 to fill in missing sidewalk links in the community core.
The city is beginning the design of sidewalks and lighting for the following locations:
  • West side of Warm Springs Road from Sixth Street to Ninth Street
  • Three half-block segments near the Leadville Avenue and Second Street intersection
  • South side of Eighth Street between Washington and First avenues
  • East side of First Avenue between Sixth and Eighth streets
  • Half block on the north side of Sun Valley Road west of Second Avenue
  • Various sidewalks on Second Avenue, Third Avenue and First Street between Sun Valley Road and Cottonwood Avenue
Following completion of the design, cost estimates will be obtained and construction will start this spring and summer on as many locations as can be funded within this year's budget.
Streetlights will meet standards to reduce energy consumption and protect against direct glare and excessive lighting in accordance with the city's Dark Sky ordinance and the Dark Sky Society guidance for lighting sidewalks.

Robbie Englehart After more than 35 years as a firefighter, Ketchum Assistant Fire Chief Robbie Englehart is retiring. What does he plan to do? Fight more fires and save more lives.
Like many others, he came to the Wood River Valley from California after a friend told him about the great skiing. He was a cabinetmaker and volunteer with the Sun Valley Fire Department when he joined the Ketchum department, also as a volunteer, in 1980. He went fulltime two years later, was promoted to captain in 1985 and to assistant chief in 2006.
He remembers being part of a team that saved the life of a heart attack victim and fighting the fire that destroyed much of Giacobbi Square in 1983. Best of all, though, are his memories of the more than 200 men and women who have been both fulltime and volunteer firefighters during his tenure.

"Robbie was the fire department training officer when I joined the Ketchum Fire Department in 1985," said Chief Mike Elle. "He was, and continues to be, an advocate for the safety of firefighters through continual, rigorous training standards. It has been a great pleasure having Robbie as my assistant chief over the past nine years and I will miss working with him on a full-time basis." 
"The fire service is a great group of diverse, well-educated and fun-loving people," Englehart said. "I consider myself fortunate to have had a career that is rewarding and where I worked with great men and women."
His wife, Teresa, will continue to work as a horse trainer specializing in hunters and jumpers. Robbie will soon be back at work, too, as a winter ski patrolman and summer wildfire fighter..
The difference? "I can only work for a few days at a time instead of being on a set schedule," he said. 

River Rock Why does the city restrict landscaping and irrigation systems next to rivers and streams? The simplest explanation is that landscaping may eliminate native vegetation and lead to erosion of the banks and flooding. Fertilizers may wash into the water, causing fish to become sick or die.

Ketchum's rivers are a small but precious portion of the 93,000 miles of waterways in Idaho. Our rivers provide drinking water, recreation and crucial habitat for fish and wildlife species. We all love our rivers but sometimes there are desires and other interests that conflict with the sustainability of our unpolluted rivers and native fish populations.

The city passed Ordinance 525 in 1989, requiring a 25-foot riparian setback along streams and rivers. No development or disturbance is permitted in order to allow native riparian vegetation to grow and thrive so it can perform its important functions, which include stabilizing the stream bank, minimizing damage to property due to flooding and providing wildlife habitat.

Native riparian vegetation has dense, well-anchored roots that help protect against erosion of the stream bank. It provides cover for wildlife and shades the stream to keep the water cool for aquatic life. There are many species of trees, shrubs, native grasses and forbs such as sunflowers that are well suited to this wet environment. The riparian setback also absorbs floodwaters and provides a buffer from the stream channel, helping to protect adjacent property.
All work, including landscaping, in the riparian setback requires a permit from the city. If you are considering work in the riparian zone, please contact the city at or 726-7801 before you begin work so we can help you move your project forward in the appropriate manner.

Please help to protect our rivers.

  • Idaho has 93,000 miles of rivers, which ranks it among the nation's top river states.
  • Idaho has more than 3,100 miles of whitewater suitable for rafting, kayaking and canoeing.
  • Idaho's rivers are home to 19 species of fish that are listed as endangered, threatened or of "special concern."
  • 420,000 anglers fish on Idaho's rivers each year.
  • 577 miles of Idaho's rivers are designated as wild, scenic or recreational rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
  • More than 2,000 miles of Idaho's rivers are designated as State Protected Rivers.
  • More than 400 miles of Idaho's rivers have minimum stream flow water rights, which help protect fish, wildlife, water quality and recreational values.
Planters Ketchum residents have asked the city to address safety concerns at the corners of 6th and Main streets and 5th Street and Leadville Avenue. Concrete planter boxes in the city right-of-way are obstructing views for pedestrians and drivers.

  PlantersTwenty-plus years ago, the city made improvements to the parking lot on 6th and Leadville, and installed planter boxes as a further enhancement to the city. As Ketchum's population has risen and the streets have become more active, these enhancements have caused a significant impact to the safety of our pedestrians and drivers.
The city has begun making efforts to improve safety at those intersections beginning with the removal of the mugo pines in the planters. Next steps will be to cut the planters down to ground level and fill them with low-growing plants to remove the obstruction completely.

The city is seeking proposals for installation and maintenance of hydration stations, as called for in the Sept. 21 resolution prohibiting sale and distribution of single-use water bottles on city property and at city-funded special events.
Hydration stations will allow people to fill reusable bottles, as well as provide water for dogs. Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4. Click here for RFP. 

Burning House Money Ketchum has maintained its Fire Defense Classification of 3 after a recent state review, meaning that residents will continue to enjoy savings on their fire insurance. One estimate, for example, is that a ranking of 3 versus 10 can save homeowners 42 percent in insurance premiums.

Every seven to eight years the Ketchum Fire Department undergoes an intense, complex two-day review of all records on training, fire response, vehicle maintenance, ladder testing, hose testing, pump testing, staffing levels, fire hydrant maintenance, fire hydrant flow testing, water system capacity and the 911 emergency dispatch center in Hailey.
The ranking system started when the Insurance Services Office (ISO) was created in 1971. This is a nonprofit association of insurance companies that provides services, such as rating and statistical reporting, on behalf of its member companies. Fire departments nationwide are typically reviewed for ISO ratings, which help insurance companies adjust premiums for buildings within each fire department's jurisdiction.
In Idaho, fire department rating reviews are conducted by the Idaho Survey and Rating Bureau (ISRB), which uses the same data from each fire department to determine an Idaho Fire Defense Classification. ISRB performs the ISO rating. The rating scale is from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best possible rating and 10 being uninsurable. Ketchum's has been at a 3 since 1999.

Plan to Attend Visit Sun Valley Meeting Nov. 4
Visit Sun Valley's quarterly community meeting will be Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 9 a.m. at the new Ketchum Convention and Event Center, 620 Sun Valley Rd., Ste. B (behind Topnotch Furniture and Interior Design).

Visit Sun Valley officials will present the summer results and highlights of the winter marketing campaigns, as well as seek feedback and ideas from the community.

Coffee and muffins will be served. The meeting is open to all, whether or not they are members of Visit Sun Valley. Please reserve a spot by emailing

Mayor Nina Jonas
Come Downtown for Nightmare on Main Street Saturday ...  
Main Street will be closed on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. for the town's traditional Halloween costume party, Nightmare on Main Street. The city is contributing $1,000 for the cost of the street closure to provide a safe and secure venue. Adjacent businesses and private donors are providing the stage, lighting, insurance and music.

... and Get a Safe Ride Home on the Bus! 
Mountain Rides is extending the Blue Route service on Halloween until 2 a.m. Departures will be 15 minutes after the hour toward Warm Springs leaving from the Visitor Center, and 45 minutes after the hour toward Sun Valley/Elkhorn leaving from the Elephant's Perch.

Plan to Vote in Nov. 3 City Council Election
Please go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to elect two City Council members. Polls will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and all Ketchum residents vote at Hemingway Elementary School. Early voting ends Friday, Oct. 30, at 5 p.m. at Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey. If you have not registered to vote yet, you may do so at the polling place.

City Offices to Close Nov. 11 
City offices will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.

Mountain Home Lieutenant Colonel Speaks at Veterans Day Celebration 
Lt. Col. David Och will speak at the American Legion Hall, 220 Cottonwood St., on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 4 p.m. Och will be representing the 389th Fighter Squadron, the "Thunderbolts." Mayor Nina Jonas is an honorary commander to this squadron. See article in previous newsletter. The celebration is open to the public. 

Ketchum Will Get More Public Restrooms 
The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency has allocated funds for public restrooms at the Guy Coles Skate Park on Saddle and Warm Springs roads.

Fish & Game to Meet in Hailey Nov. 18
Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners will meet in Hailey on Wednesday, Nov. 18, to discuss hunting seasons through 2018. Concerns repeatedly heard from Ketchum sportsmen are over angler access, wildlife viewing opportunities (inclusive of predators), and trapping and hiking. Please let commissioners know your opinion on the importance of biodiversity, trapping and other issues.

City Council Discussions Planned for Nov. 2 
City Council will consider Thunder Spring's proposed amendment to its existing development agreement. Camping in Ketchum for special events will be discussed and staff will present an analysis of costs and energy use needed to keep Town Square restrooms open year-round.   
City Council 
Attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. City Council meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of each month in Ketchum City Hall. Click here to see the agenda and staff reports or scan the QR code.

Planning and Zoning Commission 
Planning and Zoning Commission meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. The next P&Z meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9, in Ketchum City Hall. Click here for agendas and staff reports or scan the QR code.

Public Comment 
If you cannot attend the Council or P&Z meetings and have an opinion, please submit your comments via email to Your input and engagement is encouraged. All comments will be reviewed. 
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