City Government

City Land Deals Raise Warning Flags

Since its inception the GUARDIAN has urged Boise City to get the heck out of the land speculation and development business.

A recent story by Kathleen Kreller with a headline “BOISE AIMS TO PAY FOR BRANCH LIBRARIES WITH LAND SALE would make it appear the politicos have seen the light and will let the private sector get rich or poor on the land deals.

It is being done in the name of the “libraries poster child”… We had the BoDo “library block” deal which seems to have fallen off the screen…they have built or are building a couple of branches in strip malls with money from the budget–not from land sales. Those libraries were used to get votes during the recent election.

Our big fear is the city is just repeating the same old song while never following through. Team Dave is coming off a landslide election victory, so it is time to get back to the business of running the city. The previous administration–including several of the incumbent councilors–voted to sell various land parcels FOUR YEARS ago, but the council vote was ignored.

Among real estate no longer in use, but owned by the city is the old Armory on Reserve Street between a nursing home and #1 fire station. It is an historic cement structure that no one has been able to make work efficiently for 30 years.

They also have land at 25th and Fairview as well as 27th and Fairview sitting idle for many years and off the tax rolls. It has to be sold at public auction which the Daily reports will be as early as next spring. The City hopes to earn as much as $11 million selling various parcels, but in today’s market we doubt it will be that much.

As we have watched the planning process of the 30th Street neighborhood revival, we hear phrases like the city envisions a “WALKABLE EXTENSION OF DOWNTOWN”, connected to the rest of the city by a trolley. Sounds like something from a real estate brochure, but more importantly if it becomes an “extension” of downtown they could try to use the old CCDC scam of tax increment financing which means the property values will increase, but all the taxes go somewhere besides to the city general fund. BEWARE!

The new park, road alignment, and zoning changes in the 30th Street area are great. Let the private sector do the speculation and leave the property on the tax rolls.

Finally, there is the big parcel of sage brush out by the Outlet Mall off Gowen Road. We were told that land was going on the auction block, but now they are studying “infrastructure needs” for things like a university research center. If BSU wants a research center, let the STATE pay for the land and all the improvements. We already give BSU free fire service and a whole lot more.

WinCo recently announced they were going to build a distribution center on land they acquired from private parties. The city is “working with the company and looking at potentially paying for a roads, sewer, and water to parts of the land which was once a dream “industrial park.”

In our opinion it would not be a fair and honest use of taxpayer funds to develop the bare ground under the guise of “increasing the value” prior to an auction sale. It would more than likely end up as a taxpayer funded scheme to develop land the private sector doesn’t want to pay to develop.

We have a real uneasy feeling the City is meeting in secret–which is immoral, but legal–regarding land deals aimed at increasing the population.

Team Dave and the Councilors should look at the mess they have accumulated in the 27th and Fairview area before dumping more of our cash into bare land deals.

EDITOR NOTE–Canyon County Commishes got themselves into a mess with improper purchase of the “Jerome Farm.” There were NO BIDS when they tried to unload it Thursday. Our sister blog, the CALDWELL GUARDIAN has been following that story.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Moral? Fair? Guardian, you know better!
    Morality and fair play hasn’t entered Team Dave’s mind in years. Of course they meet in private! How else could you explain two members of the council finding out about the Winco deal at the press conference?(That’s all the state of the city address is)
    Be certain that the CCDC will be doing the 30th. and Fairview project (not to mention a couple of other strip malls, and without the audit) The library block will return in short order. The city will not dispose of the land they voted to dispose of, and we still will have a completely dysfunctional bus system.
    And every time someone questions Team Dave about these “strange” activities, they will point to the “mandate” they received at the polls.
    The best advice that can be given to the citizens is “Take a deep breath, bend over and hold on, because this is really going to hurt!”
    And that will be OK because we deserve what we are about to go through.

  2. Rod in SE Boise
    Nov 16, 2007, 8:22 pm

    Once again, the Guardian is right on. The city should not be developing land. That puts them in competition with their bosses (the real developers).

  3. I own a little rental property near the 30th street project.I lived there for several years. When I say little, I mean little. The county already has the property tax based on some weird assessment up to being close to the tax I pay on 1/3 acre and 1900 SF house in Eagle. My rental house is barely worth keeping up – when I bought it in 1974 it needed serious updating and I did all that I could afford. If my tenants, whom we love, ever have to move, we would probably demolish the house and start over, or not.

    If the city of Boise would sell all that land between Fairview and Main next to the river maybe someone could start determining the course of action in the area. Right now we are all in limbo. I don’t even know if the area will go commercial, although we are two houses away from Whittier School. If the school is closed (which it probably should be, since it is no longer a neighborhood school) then the whole situation could change. Then we could be looking at commercial development. This is a really nice little neighborhood, where I grew up, and would think about moving back to if I had any idea of what the city of Boise has in mind.

    EDITOR NOTE–We agree with all you say. The important issue is to have your taxes go to the City coffers and NOT just to the CCDC or a similar development agency.

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