Flood Is About More Than Water

A friend of the GUARDIAN discussed flood and growth issues over lunch recently and declared, “I don’t like it here anymore. I think I will move to Idaho!”

Idaho is really a state of mind–just like California. “Kalifornikcate” is a state of mind about people and developers ruining a once beautiful spot on earth–regardless of their origins, or the spot.
Boise R. N. Channel.jpg

Based on comments to the GUARDIAN, callers to talk radio, and coffee shop chatter, we see a culture clash that has bubbled to the surface of the of local society as the water rises in the Boise River.

There is a flood of resentment, fear, and envy, as well as more water than greedy developers and homeowners can handle. Old timers secretly revel in the misery of the “rich Californians, who should know better than to buy in a flood plain.” Local officials are defending their decisions to approve revenue producing construction along the river.
Sandbag Contract.jpg

Quaint street names with reference to “river, brook, island, stream or creek” have become reality.
Perhaps the most telling sight is a real estate “contract pending” sign surrounded by sandbags–no doubt the sale will go through!River street sign.jpg

Unlike the Midwest where folks come together routinely to save their communities with sandbags, slave labor from the Ada jail is used to ease the flood threats to homes along the river.

State and Federal water agency folks tend toward, “they built it, it is their responsibility, not ours.” A homeowners group has threatened to sue, but we don’t think they have the cash or the cajones to do it. They sound like playground bullies.

Eagle House.jpg
It is hard to generate much sympathy for owners of homes with three car garages, private fishing lakes, walking trails, club houses, and all kinds of private access to the river that many Idahoans consider a public asset for everyone to use.

To build on a flood plain in Idaho is like building in California without regard for earthquakes.

There is no doubt a tendency among the newcomers to look at the old timers as Idaho conservative xenophobic bohunks. (For you non-library types that means hicks who are afraid of outsiders). What they don’t realize is the tremendous impact their arrival has on a community.

Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade told the GUARDIAN many parcels of land will nearly DOUBLE their value in just a single year. That’s good news if you are selling, but if you just want to stay put on a place you own, brace yourselves for tax hikes–offset a little by the new increase in the homeowners exemption. This inflation is caused by the newcomers–mostly Californians.

Eagle Rd Sunday Traffic.jpg
We can’t blame the Californians for selling their little bungalows in Orange County and moving to their dream home along the river in Eagle, but they create traffic and then demand traffic signals. They get in the path of floodwaters and want to get bailed out. Their elegant (extravagant) homes fan the flames of resentment for those who have to pay increased property taxes, fund school bonds, and deal with traffic while living in modest homes by comparision.

Perhaps “immigration” is also a state of mind.

NOTE–All the photos were recently made in Eagle Island subdivisions.

Here is a little tidbit offered by a reader from the May 5 agenda for the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. He (or she) claims the area in question is in a floodplain and floodway. Timing is everything. Anyone taking bets?

“CHARTER BUILDERS, LLC requests approval for a Conditional Use Permit to construct a Planned
Development consisting of 80 residential units on ±2.95 acres located at 444 E. Parkcenter Boulevard in an L-OD (Limited Office with Design Review overlay) zone. This includes a request for a height exception. CUP06-00035 Carl Miller”

“CHARTER BUILDERS, LLC requests approval of a variance to construct an underground garage within the Greenbelt setback located at 444 E. Parkcenter Boulevard in an L-OD (Limited Office with Design Review overlay) zone. CVA06-00011 Carl Miller”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Seems each neighborhood, or burrough, if you will, offers up it’s own state of mind. Each area so different from the other.

    Here is my state of mind…What strikes me about the differences is how practical some are compared to others. West Boise and the Bench seem more practical and neighborly than those of the North End and Eagle.

    Now before anyone screams, I did say this was MY state of mind.

  2. The impact of these developments has another impact that gets little airplay. Agriculture land in this community is dissappearing at an alarming rate! Developments like this are taking prime food growing real estate.

    It is not a serious topic today but food security is a growing global crisis and our local food system has been destroyed. Farmers struggle to make an honest living and slick developers are throwing money at them to make them go away. Farm land has become too expensive for quality agriculture use. When we look at our addiction to oil consider one fifth of this countrys fossil fuel usage is to transport food. The average carrot travels 2000 miles. Our leaders are selling today at the expense of tomorrow.

    I have empathy for these homeowners as the thought of my home being flooded is terrible. You are right however, the land should never have been used for homes, it’s a floodplain.

    I enjoy your public service, you do a great job!

    Dave Krick
    Bittercreek/Red Feather
    Downtown Boise

  3. Guardian,

    I agree with most of what you say in this article- – – and the way you say it. You have captured a substantial portion of the gist of the problem with Idaho’s malignant growth.

    Eastern carpetbaggers (and more than a few local opportunists) have perpetrated Kalifornication upon us too. As you point out, the Californians, possibly because der Vaterland (aka the People’s Socialist Repulik of Kalifornia) is so close to Idaho, represent the preponderance of immigrants.

    They also tend to be the most demanding, vociferous, abrasive and, in general, obnoxious. (“Hey! Look at me on my illegally loud motorbike. Aren’t I just too cool?” or “How do you like the rap/hip-hop blaring from my two-bazillion watt car stereo? Ain’t I just the bomb?” {NO! But I’d sure like to toss one in there with you!} And “Look at me, I’m a “dude” with a dork haircut, ear rings and an attitude. I like to ride your bumper because you are going the posted speed limit and I’m too important to bother with speed limits, STOP signs or turn signals.”

    And, another real blood pressure raiser on any of our two lane highways: “The corners on these twisty mountain highways REALLY SCARE me. I just HAVE to brake for each one and then floor my little road racer on the straight stretches. Pull over if delaying three vehicles? Hell, you can’t even “touch” me in the straight passing zones. . . As I said before, I’m more important than you, you silly hick. I don’t have time, or the ego, to let someone who knows how to drive pass me.”)

    However, I don’t feel that fear or envy are proper adjectives to describe the feelings most real Idahoans have for the transplants. I have been quite content with our last two houses. The seventy year old place we owned for thirty years and were forced out of by excessive taxation, the new Truck Route in front of it and the threat of annexation by greedy city officials would still have been just fine if not for “them.” I can’t really say that I’m envious of someone dumb enough to build in a known flood plain or go too fast on a slick road either.

    But- – – I don’t fear or envy field mice, locust, starlings, magpies, ticks, mosquitoes, ground squirrels or hailstorms. Nor do I fear, or envy, the transplants. (Well, maybe they do concern me a bit with their poor and aggressive driving habits) They are all destructive in what they do to Idaho.

    The collective memory of most of these people is so short that I will only go back one year for this example: In 2005 the initial tax valuation on our eleven-year-old house increased twenty two percent. When I called to dispute this incredible inflation, the assessor’s representative (they MUST be trained in conflict management) was very polite when she told me “NEXT year we’ll get you on the property.” This is absolutely nothing but outrageous, double digit inflation for those of us not yet quite ready to become displaced refugees from our hometowns and state. Unlike gasoline prices, there is nothing we can do to avoid the legalized extortion for the rent on our homes. All because a horde of “transplants” have moved to Idaho.

    And then there is the issue of seeing more of the “So glad we “Discovered” Idaho” crowd on weekdays in the backcountry than I used to see on opening days of the various hunting and fishing seasons. Don’t any of these newbies work?

    Guardian, I realize that you are being sensitive when you say that Idahoans may “secretly revel” in the misery of the silly “lowlanders.” There is nothing secret about it in my book. I’d rather have them run a stop sign in front of a fast freight train (or a loaded garbage/gravel truck) than in front of me or a loved one in our little old hup-mobiles. I’d rather see them take themselves out on the slick road to Bogus than to lose control on a valley thoroughfare or Highway 55. Snow doesn’t “cause” crashes. Idiots in a hurry who think they are still on L.A. or Frisco freeways cause crashes. Mourn their losses or pretentious flooded houses? Hardly!

    EDITOR NOTE–Take two blood pressure pills, call me in the morning and tell me how you really feel.

  4. Guardian, not every homeowner on Eagle Island is from out of state or even from out of Boise. I know of one family who is being flooded out who is third generation Boisean. Now, a family member I spoke with agrees that no one should be building on Boise River islands nor the flood plain, but said that no family opinions were asked for when the house was purchased, so none was given.

    Why live on Eagle Island?… for the status.

    Not all who made such a poor living choice is from out of state, but they have an out of state of mind.

  5. “CHARTER BUILDERS, LLC requests approval for a Conditional Use Permit to construct a Planned Development consisting of 80 residential units on ±2.95 acres located at 444 E. Parkcenter Boulevard in an L-OD (Limited Office with Design Review overlay) zone.”

    How do developers (the Kalifornicating kind, anyway) keep interpreting “Limited Office” and “Agricultural” zoning as meaning “Here’s a great place to build houses, especially great big gigantic way overpriced ones.”?

    And why do our cities and counties bother to do zoning when they’ll dump it in the sewer anytime somebody waves a handful of cash in their faces?

    If these developers really have the compulsion to keep building, why don’t they go do it in Louisanna, Missippi etc., where people really *need* houses after Katrina et al.”

    Besides, it’d be lifetime employment in areas where hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding etc. are annual events, rather than just the undependable random years they get here.

    P.S. If anyone out there thinks this area actually needs more homes built, just pick up copies of any of the area real estate sales magazines (Harmon Homes, Property by Owner, etc.), and look through the ads in the Boise and Nampa papers.

  6. Does anybody know of a good T-shirt and bumpersticker shop? I want to roll with some “Californians are Vermin!” swag.

    Growth is Good. Just like when you weigh 300lbs, what’s another forty Moon Pies? You just reach a point where your body (infastructure, i.e. sewer, water, and roads) can’t handle it. Time is running out all over the planet, affluenza has struck the US and is more widespread than the bird flu and AIDs combined.

    Most people agree that only a major catastrophe will change things. Sad, but I believe this to be true.

  7. Luddite,

    I think I believe the same thing when I say that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can change. I see it all the time. Sometimes a person learns from the experience and changes while others see if they can get lower still.

  8. Many of the people coming here swallowing up farmland and building 9000 sq ft. homes really don’t want what they are moving here for. My experience is that they complain when: The balers run all night in the alfalfa field across the ditch; the crop-dusters fly too low and scare their dogs; the dairy farm two miles down smells bad on hot windy days; there are too many flies because the old lady across the road has chickens and sheep; etc. ad nauseum.

    I happen to love the crop dusters, balers, and the smell of fresh cow poop. Call me weird, but that’s why I have stayed here all these years. They come, they complain, they get their way. I wish they’d leave my world alone and if the bumber sticker is printed, I want two. Thanks!

  9. Mineiro de Minnesota
    Apr 24, 2006, 10:54 am

    There’s a solution to kalifornication of Idaho riverfronts. No one, except possibly kali-pimpers, wants to see development in the flood plains. Look at the mess in New Orleans.

    Before it gets built up, pass effective zoning laws to maintain green (or brown) belts in the flood plains. Do something proactive in everyone’s favor.

    EDITOR NOTE–The zoners are the ones working with the kali-pimper developers. What does that make THEM?

  10. All this talk of Kalifornication reminds me of New Mexico in the ’80’s and Colorado in the ’90’s. Both places the beleagered natives were complaining of Kalifornication and how “they” were driving up prices and ruining everything. Here’s the question – Where are they all coming from? Is there not a single one left in the state, do they breed like rabbits, or do they all move as a pod every decade?

  11. Several have asked how all this building in the flood plain gets approved…..same way that massive condos and row houses get approved.

    Your elected officals have agendas with the developers and they allow “variances” or even amend the comp plans to accommidate. Most of the time the area home owners are never notified (because they live more than 300 ft away) nor does the city or county want them to know – they might show up and voice an opinion!

    You might has well know now that the comp plan and your neighborhood plans are not worth the paper they are written on – especially in Boise.

    Neighborhood plans were (and are) just a way to make the neighborhoods “feel like” they have a voice – but not a voice tha holds any water..pun intended.

  12. The best Idaho vanity plate I ever had the privilege to drive behind: GOBK2CA.

  13. Time for today’s religion lesson, boys and girls.

    “… A wise man … built his house upon a rock:

    “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

    “… A foolish man … built his house upon the sand:

    “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

    – Jesus (paraphrased from Matthew 7:24-27)

    I would add, “… and great was the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth… and threats of litigation.”

    And I’d also speculate that the wise man’s house wasn’t built in the river bottoms. A wise man would NEVER build a house in the river bottoms!

  14. “OH, MY HECK”
    Wasn’t there a Idaho demographic report published recently that claimed that most people moving to Idaho from other places came from #1 UTAH, #2 Oregon, and #3 California.
    As a Idaho Native, pushing 70 years, it is my observation that: (1) MOST Californians come here to be next to their Grand-Kids and with the ability to support them selves and pay taxes. (2) Oregons come here with a work-ethic, contribute to society and pay taxes. (3) Utes move here with $1100, $100 down on a new Suburban, $1000 down on a house, start popping kids, declare bankruptcy, go on welfare and expect everyone to pay for their lifestyle. DON’T UTAX, IDAHO!

    EDITOR NOTE–The commenter’s facts are off. A national population expert speaking at the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry convention recently offered the following data:

    His research shows 14 percent of the population in the state capitol arrived from Southern California and 8 percent from San Francisco. That means 22% of all newbies are from California. Also, 10 percent from Puget Sound, 10 percent from Eastern Oregon AND Washington, 9 percent from Salt Lake City, 8 percent from Portland/Vancouver.

  15. I’m amazed at your readers ability to identify stranger’s state of origin based on their level of irritating habits. I share this ability. For instance, my coworker with the loud harley claims to be a 4th gen Idahoan, but I know better. I saw a woman picking her nose on the street today. Definity Orange County, probably a south Anaheim native.

    I would have loved to have stayed in Northern California. Alas, I couldn’t afford to buy a house in the town I grew up in. Now that was a beautiful place before it was ‘discovered’.

    Oh, the irony.

  16. I do not understand why we have such great fun “trashing” Californians. Have you SEEN California lately? I applaud them for wanting a better life than that “ant-pile” they lived in.

    Having said that, I am not very understanding if they move here, make some real poor choices on where to live, bitch about the traffic, schools, and government services and expect us to pay the bill.

    I say, “welcome those of you fleeing California- just don’t try to turn Idaho into a suburb of Sacramento!

  17. I think we Idahoans (natively speaking) have finely honed observation skills and the gift of discernment that does, in fact, allow us to sniff out a “Caulifornian” a mile off. Here’s proof: (example) Joe says his coworker has a loud Harley, which is irritating…so, Joe is from Caulifornia. We, born here, know there is NO SUCH THING AS AN IRRITATINGLY LOUD HARLEY. I am hoping Steve will back me up here. I used to ride, I don’t anymore, but the louder the better and the sound still makes my heart beat faster and forces a smile to my face. Only a ferriner could think it irritating.

  18. If people think the flooding is bad now just wait until we have a real flood. This amount of water we have now is close to a normal high water year.

    If you think Californians moving to Idaho is bad now, wait until the next big quake hits down there. They will come in droves like the big cattle drives in our past history.

  19. I think it might be important to point out to the richy-riches whose mansions along the Boise river are threatened by flooding that thousands of the poorest people in Eastern Europe, Romanina, Ukraine, Hungary, etc. are being displaced by serious flooding of the Danube river at this moment.

    These people do not have the resources that the Boise Riverside dwellers have to sustain themselves in such a crisis. Many of these Europeans are now homeless without the luxury of flood insurance or fat bank account to fall back on in the case of such an emergency.

    I find it utterly pathetic that these Eagle residents are threatening legal action for “potential” flooding when there are those around the world who have lost everything and have nothing but the sweat on their brow and the will to move on
    to start over again. It makes me sick.

    Flood victims image capture from MSNBC week in pictures:

    Anyway, I thought it was a good point to ponder.

    Thank you for this site. It is a breath of fresh air.


  20. Tam, as a third generation Idahoan who has never lived in California I must disagree with you about the sound of a Harley Davidson. I do find their well known sound obnoxiously irritating as well as much too loud. I just thought that the IRRITATINGLY LOUD sound was a part of the attraction for those who rode them. That noise announces to the world that one is not riding anything but an HD….it’s not a BSA, nor an Indian, nor anything but an IRRITATINGLY LOUD HARLEY and if ya don’t like it, too bad.

    So one does not come from California (ask the Hell’s Angels) to enjoy peace and quiet.

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