Guardian Top Stories

Despite Weeds, Post Office Is Open

Although it is quickly being overgrown with weeds throughout the landscaping, sidewalks, and parking lot, the Overland Station Post Office on Federal Way is still open.

The GUARDIAN has mentioned the weed problem repeatedly to clerks, but to no avail. Insiders tell us the guys with neckties claim there is no money to care for the exterior of the citizen-owned facility.

We spent more than an hour on the internet and telephone attempting to locate a postal manager in Boise. There was no published way to speak to the local postmaster or anyone else in the U.S. P. S. After a lengthy menu on an automated local number we were instructed to “hang up and dial an 800 number.”

The 800 automated voice had a similar menu, but no option to speak to a human being–with a necktie or not.

Not one to just complain with no solution, the GUARDIAN is seeking a one shot clean up by the Ada County Sheriff’s Inmate Labor Detail. These low risk criminals do similar landscape cleaning for Boise Parks and on FEDERAL Interstate highways. It would seem logical to have them do some weed whacking at the post office. The only problem is finding someone at the Post Office who will coordinate with the Ada Sheriff. If anyone wishes to offer up a phone number of a local necktie at the Post Office we will gladly share it with the sheriff.

Lament Of A Growthophobe (A Rant)

The GUARDIAN created the word “growthophobe,” welcomed new people and businesses if they wished to pay their fair share of taxes and offer good wages. Otherwise relocate elsewhere.

Meanwhile local politico mothers and fathers work overtime to attract more population, cars, trains, planes, and buses through “incentives.” They want those of us who live here to finance their addictive habit.

As budget approval times approach for local governments, tax increases are coming and expansion of everything from schools to roads, coppers, city workers and traffic are imminent.

Those of us who have lived here and revere the lifestyle, weather, and culture of SW Idaho are an endangered species. In a nutshell we are being exploited by outside forces and have to pay the bill so developers and other “birds of prey” can flourish.

We often hear the cry, “We have been discovered and we can’t keep people from moving here!” True, but we shouldn’t have to PAY them to come here. Paylocity posted a testimonial on a chamber of commerce site which is worth noting:

“In Boise’s favor were state incentives like a Workforce Development Training Fund, a reimbursement program to help cover the costs of training and onboarding initiatives, and a Tax Reimbursement Incentive (TRI) of 28 percent for 15 years. TRI is an incentive available to new or existing Idaho companies that create 50 or more high-wage jobs in Idaho. Companies have the ability to receive a reimbursement on their payroll, sales and corporate income taxes up to 30 percent for a maximum of 15 years. TRI is awarded to companies that prove their stability and significant economic impact to the industry, community and state.”

Wouldn’t we ALL like to have a 28 percent tax kickback for 15 years?

To top it off, the land was formerly agricultural cropland. Meridian made it an urban renewal agency and none of the taxes on the multimillion dollar buildings go to schools, ACHD, the city or the county. Sadly, the scenario is repeated over and over.

In the annual budget competition between local governments to see who can offer the most “savings,” Ada County is this year’s winner. The commishes budget includes a $12M cut in property taxes. Don’t hold your breath because future budgets can “clawback” the foregone taxing authority. Just ask the Ada County Highway District.

ACHD is faced with dozens of needed road projects and they are exploring to use that clawback feature to add $7.5 million cash to their bank account. See this BoiseDev piece.

Boise City has approved a $276.2 million budget to include 44 new hires in various departments–because of growth. Officials predict a 29% tax hike.

All these new people and companies need a bigger airport with more flights. Alaska Airlines has a deal with the University of idaho to pay the carrier if their new route to Moscow-Pullman is not profitable. Also, we wonder about the “incentives” offered to airlines for new flight routes. Do they pay landing and gate fees like everyone else?

In summary, when local government works against the will of the citizens thinking they are “creating jobs” and “competing with other cities,” they are destroying our culture and a way of life that has been eroded almost to the point of destruction.

When growth is the number one concern of society it is counter- productive to encourage growth. The politicos have caused the price of housing to climb out of sight and then they strive to build some cheap housing to take care of the problem they themselves created.
They create that which they seek to escape.

SW Boise: “We Get No Respect”


By Rachael Grotsky, Chief Administrative Officer of Friends of Murgoitio Park, and David King, President

Recent news articles have injudiciously placed the problem of annexation squarely on the shoulders of county-dwellers, claiming that the City of Boise has repeatedly shelved the annexation process because residents fought it so hard. The issue is more complex than localized citizen kick-back and has more to do with the City’s lack of direction as it stumbles over the building blocks of civic growth. Let us not forget that in 2008, the real estate market collapsed, and the country entered a recession, and that is perhaps the real reason for the sudden halting of multiple large-scale annexation projects in Boise, including that of the Southwest.

The annexation issue is one of uncoordinated planning and egregious mismanagement, coupled now with shades of panic—even desperation—in these years of unprecedented growth. There are fundamental financial problems at work in the City. While Boise could use a new library, to be sure, it is criminally irresponsible to pursue the construction of a $104 million dollar library complex in a City of our stature, in our fiscal situation. Not coincidentally, when that project was subjected to the critique of the public, Boise’s budget director suddenly vacated his position. It is similarly short-sighted to rely on impact fees for development—it is poor fiscal policy, and the City has been cautioned to this effect.

When Councilman Jimmy Hallyburton says of expanding City services that “a lot of that stuff comes through impact fees when development happens,” he is admitting that the City simply cannot afford its growth, whether before development or afterward. They cannot afford to build the infrastructure in advance of development—a legal requirement—nor can they afford it after development, because now they miss out on the collection of impact fees.

Nor do fees always go to the areas they are collected from, or to which they are ostensibly designated. As Southwest Boise has grown, the City has collected millions from the region in park impact fees. But times change, and so does leadership, and instead of spending these impact fees on Murgoitio Park, the City leapt over the source of the money and spent the bulk of it in developing and constructing a “Proposed Large Urban Park,” a neat topper for the ribbon of extant parks in downtown Boise. This was Esther Simplot Park.

Murgoitio Park has been used tactically when convenient to the City and stripped of status when inconvenient. The Murgoitio acreage has always been included in the city’s list of park assets. The total value of these park assets is used to compute the Level of Service—the standard by which the City determines necessary impact fees required to deliver the same service to new areas needing parks. Having served this computational purpose for other regions, the Murgoitio parcel’s own potential to serve is being submarined with unprecedented haste.

The overstep of the current administration toward this fast-track annexation smacks of desperation, and worse—of unfair advantage for the few. Records suggest that the City originally presented the current annexation proposal to the Boise School District under the pretense of finally constructing a park on the Murgoitio site. The School District did not learn about the proposed residential development of the property for weeks after they handed over written consent. To further compound confusion, City staff have been cutting corners regarding public information, waiving procedure prior to neighborhood meetings, and leaving staff unprepared to answer residents’ questions. Many questions have gone unanswered entirely. The City is insisting on an expedited process.

The annexation controversy has little, if anything, to do with the real issue, which is a total breach of commitment to care. The City made a commitment to provide the people of the southwest a regional park to be proud of—a venue to benefit not only the southwest region but the entire City of Boise.

The region has been in the Boise City Area of Impact (AOI) since the early 1980s, and since 1995 this area has been subject to AOI park impact fees, City land-use ordinance, and adherence to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Southwest Boise is not a new inclusion under the umbrella of policy, and when its denizens mark an envelope with their return address, the City they mark is “Boise.” They work in Boise, and they shop in Boise. Let us not argue that Boise does not reciprocate, does not appreciate that the Southwest arm of the City is the overworked limb on a wide, ever-reaching body.

Some news articles have stated that Murgoitio Park was never included in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan, and this is simply untrue. Murgoitio Park is referenced comprehensively, countless times, in various plans and projects spanning the last two decades, including the Capital Improvement Plan for impact fees. It has long been included in impact fee studies. Over the years, professionals have been hired to analyze the site and draw up detailed presentations, the results of which have been accessible in the City’s records throughout the last two decades. And the record shows plans to begin construction were being made and funding from donors was being secured.

These plans have, until this very summer, been the backbone of many home sales in the southwest area. Real estate agents in unincorporated Southwest Boise habitually use Murgoitio Park plans as a sales tactic, printing maps and details for potential buyers, lauding the tremendous boon of having such a masterpiece property nearby. The City promised it. Deals were made on its promise.

Some of us, in recent days, have heard the suggestion, “If you wanted to live in a nicer part of town, you should have moved there instead.” Though this sentiment baffles the senses, it sadly seems to represent the ethos of the current administration. There appears to be a distinct effort by Councilmembers, by Parks and Rec. department, and by Mayor McLean to downplay and diminish the very real disparity of park access between Southwest Boise and its neighbors to the North and East.

To sweep the City’s obfuscation off the table, the Board of Friends of Murgoitio Park unanimously resolved to support the City’s annexation of all necessary portions of the park’s residential areas of impact in conjunction with the completion of the park and the preservation of all its current land use restrictions. Residents in the Southwest—those within and outside of the City limits—are organizing as if their families’ well-being depends on it. It does depend on it. All of Boise deserves the type of vision that recognized the wisdom of setting aside enough land to ensure that as Boise grows, it will not lose one of its most defining and desirable attributes: Its remarkable system of equitably accessible parks and opens space.


Mayor Nixes SW Land Swap

Mayor Lauren McLean has put the brakes on the ill-advised land swap of 160 acres of designated park land in SW Boise.

According to the STATESMAN Heronner declared the deal no longer made “financial sense.”

The GUARDIAN broke the original story after neighbors contacted us crying foul, saying the land had been promised as a park for nearly two decades.

We posted several stories which showed the disparity in land values between the SW cropland and the Harris Ranch foot hills property.

The legacy media jumped on the story and it looks like development will be cut short on the public land at least for now.

If the McLean decision holds, she deserves a pat on the back for responding to the will of the citizens over that of developers.

Park Land Worth $128,000,000 Up For $15 million Trade

Irate neighbors in SW Boise were provided some deadly ammunition Monday when the Boise School District announced a deal to sell 15 acres of surplus land adjacent to the 160 Murgoitio Park site for $800,000 per acre.

That 160 acre parcel is south of the Victory Road School District headquarters and West Jr. High, between Maple Grove and Cole Roads. It was to be a park, but Boise officials recently announced plans to do a land swap with the Harris Ranch family for foot hills land they claimed is worth $15 million–including the value of lots they are entitled to develop, but will forego.

Margaret Carmel at BOISE DEV did a great job with one of their trade mark “Deep Dives,” documenting the trade details.

In a nutshell, it appears the deal would avoid the Idaho Code requiring cities to declare land surplus and sell it at auction to the highest bidder. Trades of “equal value” are allowed under the law. By using the trade route Boise City would be able to target the ultimate owner and avoid an auction. The GUARDIAN sees that as “insider trading,” plain and simple. At issue now is the true value of both parcels.

City fathers and mothers obviously were caught off guard when Boise Schools essentially established a “comparison value” for the neighboring 15 acres of land at $800,000 per acre.

The honest way to handle the entire deal would be for the city to sell the Murgoitio Park site at auction, then simply give the Harris folks $15 million cash from the auction proceeds which would logically bring in many millions more than the proposed $15 million trade deal.

The Boise Guardian

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