Post Falls, Idaho

A commuter suburb of Spokane, Washington, with emerging employment and a growing retiree population, Post Falls, Idaho, had experienced an increasingly common scenario: rapid, unfocused growth, and the public discontent that results. In response, the city engaged PlaceMakers to help foster “sensible growth, real neighborhoods, and vibrant community” through a master regulating plan, sector plan, and form-based code, as well as design assistance on 11 local development projects.



As is common in PlaceMakers’ form-based code engagements, the process began with a public outreach effort incorporating promotional materials, public relations and the iCharrette website, which framed the related messaging according to the goals of the city and put information within easy reach of local citizens.

In Post Falls, the iCharrette website delivered further value through its interactive Image Preference Survey. In advance of the charrette, citizens were able to evaluate 90 images online — showing a mix of conventional and traditional environments — and rate each on a scale of -10 to +10.

Post Falls has essentially no historic structures or traditional Main Street, both of which are commonly used as tools for writing a form-based code and illustrating its impact on development. Despite this, however, the value of such forms was still intuitively felt, as Survey results quantified overwhelming local support for exactly the types of development facilitated by character-based zoning.

This not only provided compelling direction for the designers, it equally proved to be a powerful tool for political persuasion. Further proof that the details that make for the most loved places aren’t necessarily something that’s learned. They’re something that’s felt.