Eagle and Boise represent a tale of two cities when it comes to development philosophy.
A proposed high end development in Eagle built around a designer golf course along with a designer swimming, tennis, and soccer sports programs is a far cry from Boise’s penchant for “infill.” Boise provides those amenities at taxpayer expense.
Both philosophies have the same goal: accommodate developers and increase tax revenues. To increase revenues you either raise prices or increase volume.
Eagle may have found a dirty little secret as they cater to big houses on big lots. Here is a simplistic, but accurate example of how it works:
EAGLE divides 10 acres into 10 parcels with $1 million homes. They collect taxes on $10 million worth of property and provide roads, sewer, schools, sidewalks, and water lines to 20 people.
BOISE divides the 10 acres into 40 parcels with $150,000 homes. They collect taxes on $6 million worth of real estate, but serve 80 people…four times the people for almost half assessed the value. This results in higher tax rates in Boise.
Part of Boise’s desire to cram more houses into existing neighborhoods is to increase the tax revenue–make up in volume what they lose in price. If they can jam 80 homes into that 10 acres they can grab taxes on $12 million worth of real estate value, BUT they have to serve 160 people.
Boise officials think it is a good deal because the roads, sewers, schools, sidewalks and water lines cost the same if used by 20 people in Eagle or 160 in Boise.
The result is Boise has even more $150,000 houses–and people who can afford them. Folks who don’t want to rub elbows with the neighbors and grow a garden not shaded by a two story “skinny house” flee the city, but come back in the daily commute to earn a living.
Eagle would be hard pressed to “lower” its standards and Boise is finding it a difficult sell to “raise” its standards with the perceived “need” to increase density to increase the bottom line.
Meanwhile, when you read reports on the Wednesday IDAHO ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM discussion about “infill” bear in mind there is a fair amount of incest.
Here is a rundown of speakers:
GARY ALLEN is a lawyer who represents developer BILL CLARK who is a director of Idaho Smart Growth which employs ELAINE CLEGG who is on the City Council which employs Planning Director BRUCE CHATTERTON who works with neighborhood association advocate ELLIOT WERK who is also a state senator.
Who’s your daddy?
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