Growing Numbers of Growthophobes

We are noticing more and more people coming to their senses and opposing insane growth which manifests itself in flood threats, infill arguments, annexation hassles, inflated housing prices, traffic, and a host of other offensive habits.

Latest growthophobe to go public is Sarah Wiltz, president of the Sunset neighborhood association. She sees growth as a threat to the character of the neighborhood west of 30th and north of State St. Wiltz has cause to worry.
Farm sale sign.jpg

Wednesday we saw a number of signs at dairy farms proclaiming DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL and they didn’t mean agriculture.

We talked to a farmer prepping a field of the nicest soil you would ever want to drop a seed into. He shook his head sadly and said, “It’s all over for us. We’re done here.”tractor.jpg

His plan is to sell out to the developers, take the money and build a new farm life across the Snake River in Oregon where there is less pressure to build houses–at least for now.

There are currently plans afoot to populate the Foothills all the way from Middleton to Lucky Peak. All tolled there are probably 15 developments either in the works or soon to be filed. Some will eat up as much as 30,000 acres.

“Team Dave” leader Dave Bieter is pushing to populate the south hills with another round of development. We see little hope of preserving any semblance of what “Boise used to be” without a united effort like the one Wiltz is pushing. She wants a moratorium on building in the foothills. It is not likely to happen, but if you love your kids, breathable air, and a view of something other than neighbors, better wake up.

Growthophobia is a contagious disease characterized by an intense longing for life as it used to be, should be, and CAN be if we unite to fight the insurgents who are ruining a great state full of mostly fine people.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Johnnie Harris
    Apr 26, 2006, 11:41 pm

    Once Boise was a bit like Mayberry of the Andy Griffith show. One knew all of one’s neighbors, where citizens respected the police and weren’t afraid to leave the doors unlocked. You could leave your keys in the ignition overnight and your car would
    still be there in the morning. Children weren’t molested, stabbings were only in places like big cities in California. You could launch a boat at Luck Peak and not have to pay, float the Boise river and enjoy a cold beer.

    Yes at one time I could joked that I lived in Boise-Mayberry RFD where you could turn back time on modern day life. Then sometime in the 1990’s a mass migration occurred , people from the west coast (INSURGENTS) moved to Boise because of the life style described above.

    They brought all their friends and family, “cheap homes!” they shouted and nice friendly natives. The Boise I remember is gone, replaced with expensive homes, user fee’s, higher
    taxes, traffic congestion, more crime , more murders, road rage, graffiti, on and on. I’d like to rename our great state to reflect it’s true identity, “IDAFORNIA”.

    Yes I’m bitter, I’m a west coaster who moved here when Boise was in a depressed economy (early 1980’s), I was willing to sacrifice my much higher paying job to buy a smaller less expensive home and start and raise a family. I left California only to see Boise become much of what I fled from. Where will the next Mayberry be?

    Born a Texan, raised a Californian, living as an Idahoan.

  2. I hate to ride the native train, but what the hell. Those of us who had our butts smacked in Idaho hospitals and haven’t left the state since aren’t really crying a river for bitter Californians.. no matter what economic phase you joined us in.

  3. Well phrased, Fraz. Keep up the good work.

    Johnnie Harris also did some nice explaining of the changes. But a phrase in his final sentence brings up a point that has bothered me:
    “I left California only to see Boise become much of what I fled from.”
    Unfortunately, that’s what a few thousand others are going to realize eventually — They didn’t leave L.A. (or San Diego or San Jose or wherever), they brought it with them.
    The fled because of traffic, crime, pollution, outlandish home prices, etc. Now those things are increasing rapidly throughout BoiseNampaCaldwellEagleStarKuna and other cities, towns and former farms in the region.
    I’m a newcomer myself — only been here about 40 years. But I moved here from Arizona to take a job vacated by someone who moved from here to Arizona. I bought a house built in 1900-1917 according to assorted records.
    When Boiseopolis finally drove me out, I move to Emmett, into a house built an estimated 30 to 35 years ago.
    Now, if there were some way to say people could only move here when an equivalent number of people move out, and no more houses could be built, we could welcome the newcomers without crowding ourselves to death.
    Maybe add to that law that people who move here have to become Idahoans — slow down, chat with people, be nice to everybody you meet in the stores, on the sidewalks and on the roads, enjoy the presence of wildlife, farms, ranches etc. instead of complaining about them and trying to drive them out.
    Hey, it could remain Idaho!
    — gp

  4. Thanks Guardian for finally making this an issue that has cried for attention for a long time.
    Sadly, it is time for a reality check.

    The Boise we have all loved for so many years is gone! It left sometime in the early 90’s.All the posts are correct. We enjoyed a lifestyle that was the envy of the rest of the country.
    We will never return to that “Mayberry with nice stores and good restaurants”.
    The ONLY chance we have now is to manage this explosion. We have to stand up to greedy politicians and developers and demand “sensible growth”.

    Sensible growth is inevitable,uncontrolled growth is deadly.

  5. Sad to say it’s a universal problem with domino effect implicaitons. I remember interviews when I was a Statesman reporter in the mid 60s with the Ada County planning and zoning director who warned about expensive extensions of sewer and water lines and problems with pollution caused by septic tanks in the outer suburbs. Also, urban sprawl necessitates expansion of roads. In the Twin Cities (Mini-SOHta), there is an explosion of new condo development in the inner cities.

  6. My Grandfather and Grandmother raised their three children here in Boise and those kids raised their kids here. I have raised my children here and my grandchildren are here. In fact my grandson attends the same grade school I did so very long ago.

    I take the grandkids out to certain areas and ask them to look hard and be aware of what they hear, see and smell because this will soon be just a memory and they may be the last of our family to have that memory because someday what they see, smell and hear will be gone; it will vanish to population. I took them out to see the marmots cavorting in an area which will soon be swallowed up by “houses made of ticky tacky and they all look the same”.

    I don’t like the unchecked growth. I don’t understand the empty strip malls, yet ripping into raw land to build a new one. I miss the openness between towns.

    I agree that people escaping from larger cities did not leave them, they have brought the poison along on the bottom of their shoes. This is it….. LA and other large cities are like big cancers. People are like little cells that have broken off and spread that cancer and it’s death to small places like Boise, Emmett, Meridian, Eagle, etc. The small town feeling is being killed by the cancer.

    But if you really want to look at it fairly, white folks brought the first cancers to this land. Ask any Native American – if and when you can find one.

  7. Like some of you, I’m not a Boise native, having moved here in the 70’s from Illinois. I arrived when Boise was becoming a wasteland with the population shrinking. I like to think I helped stabilize the equation.

    I, too, chaff at the increases in all things we formerly enjoyed (traffic, taxes, number of people, etc.), but I have to keep reminding myself that one of the benefits of living in the U.S. (at least one of the few left) is the freedom to move where we wish. I just wish that so many of the newest arrivals didn’t bring their rudeness and criminal activity with them. And, did anybody see the letter to the editor in yesterday’s Statesman from the guy chastising those Eagle residents suing the state for allowing flooding of their properties. He stated so aptly they they were probably very smug that they obtained some great riverfront property from the dumb Idahoans, but they’re aren’t smiling now. Maybe they’re realizing Idahoans used that property to fish and hunt on, but were too smart to live there.

    As a long-time neighborhood activitist in one of Boise’s lower-income neighborhoods, we have been doubly impacted by out-of-staters buying up our starter homes and turning them into rentals to make a fast buck, as well as developers scalping our neighborhood to place skinny row houses in every nook and crany they can find.

    Unfortunately, I see no relief until our local governments stop bickering and come up with a comprehensive land use policy for the Valley and don’t grant every developer an exception to the requirements they (government) have imposed.

  8. Agent Whynotski
    Apr 27, 2006, 9:27 am

    Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the hypocrisy of “native” Idahoans in their complaints about newcomers taking up all the “nicest farm soil.” In the 1800s, the true natives of these lands were killed or herded up and stuck on reservations so the emigrants could steal the land for their own selfish purpose.

    Idaho’s called the gem state and the title has lured many miners here to level mountains, cut down forests, dredge streams, and expose their leaching chemicals to the natural environment, poisoning rivers and streams in their quest for natural riches. “Native” Idahoans have continually allowed diversion of rivers through damning (sp) and irrigation, overgrazing of public lands, and plowing up natural habitat and. The depletion and contamination of aquifers and natural rivers through heavy use of agriculture chemicals is also a problem.

    The “natives” have been drinking bad water and eating fruit born from artificially conditioned soil for many generations; I think it has done some permanent damage to their cognitive skills and they forget it was their ancestors who created this “superfund” state. They were the original electors of the government officials who pushed downhill this snowball for growth and development and now that the snowball has become an avalanche headed for their homes, they want to blame someone else when really they have no one to blame but themselves.

  9. I saw what happened in the sprawling suburbs of my native New Jersey .. awful things. Here in Pocatello we have an anti-growth government. You might want to elect one in Boise.

  10. It’s no fun trying to buy a house and having ten people ahead of you. have bidding wars started in Boise yet?

    EDITOR NOTE: Mike is obviouly not from Boise. Stories abound of “bonus payments” and sales within 2 hours of placing a home on the market.

  11. mike bowser
    Apr 27, 2006, 9:37 am

    Why can’t we limit growth as Boulder and Portland do. Have minimum lot sizes, limit numbers of unrelated people per house, stop subsidizing large families with tax breaks, pay for schools with sales taxes. We can save our valley if we try. When it is gone it is lost forever.

    EDITOR NOTE– To answer your question Mike: $$$$

  12. We need a moratorium on building in the foothills (thinking locally) as much as we need a moratorium on child-birth (thinking globally).

    We also need to do the things Mike Bowser suggested (above). Infill is not an acceptable alternative to sprawl. And now we have both infill and sprawl, the worst of all possible worlds.

  13. Don’t fight the growth. Invest your money in it. Make a profit. Take your money to another unspoiled place and infect it with development. Keep the viral cycle going.

    EDITOR NOTE–Easy to say if you are leaving town.

  14. Growth is inevitable. Rod nailed it. While the world population of humans breeds like rabbits, we have to acknowledge the inevitability of growth and manage the what, where, when and how of growth. We have many examples of unchecked growth like Phoenix and Salt Lake. That gives us the opportunity to learn from those mistakes rather than repeat them. Its going to take some political courage and foresight to conquer the unbridled greed. Because those developers launching these “planned communities” are from Salt Lake and Phoenix and have ample experieince combatting notions of managed growth.

    Now I’m growing weary of the native/non-native distinction that is such a main focus of writers here. I’ve railed against pointless labeling that serves nothing more than to demonize sects and punish messengers. It is popularized in national politics with the liberal/conservative distinction and serves no purpose to meaningful debate on a topic. Once the label is applied it enables the user to trumpet all the perceived abuses by adherents of the label, and most of these are highly subjective.

    But if you persist please acknowledge the benefits. Natives have a rich heritage and institutional memory which can benefit problem solvers. Non-natives come from places where manged planning and growth failed and we all can benefit from their knowledge so we don’t repeat the mistakes from which they fled.

    EDITOR NOTE–Well said and we agree.

  15. Regarding the nativist comments… I’m 5th generation Idahoan. My G-G-Parents homesteaded on the Northfork of the Clearwater long before the unnecessary construction of Dworshak Dam. I don’t remember Boise being a quaint little town. It’s always been an semi-urban center populated by the self-important. I remember it being that way as a child and it still has not changed.

    Agent Whynotski has it right. None of us commenting are truly native. We are truly naive mixed with a heavy dose of arrogance.

  16. Let us put a moratorium on building and use eminent domain to purchase back properties in the area (and evict their tenants). Let us continue to do this until only descendants of the original Chinese immigrants and “local” families make up the majority of Ada County’s composition. Let us lose major industry and employers, and go back to impoverished times. That should do the trick of keeping more and more Californians from moving here!

    I find it ludicrous that most of the posters on here have no complaints about the “growth” that resulted in their current homes, employment and economic situation… but are quick to raise the red flag when it comes to others enjoying same.

    I’m surprised these same people aren’t complaining about blacks, Israelites, Latinos (oh wait… they are!) and other ethnic groups moving in and “spoiling their red-neck Idaho” by making it possible for Boise farmers to continue to earn a living by paying sub-optimal wages for jobs the rest of us wouldn’t do.

    I’m also surprised these same people aren’t complaining about non-Christian religions making an appearance in their area, and the followers of same demanding equal treatment under the law (oh wait… they are!).

    What a joke their complaints, which ring hollow, truly are. Espousing a fine pollyanna bromide or similar empty platitude does not a fact make.

  17. Great article Guardian. Is it really whining if you propose a solution to the problem?

    Now may be the time to institute my plan from the sixties.

    Remember the old Marsing grade near the top where the highway hugged the cliff at the top of the canyon? It would be a fine place to put a real exit ramp marked “Fruit and Nut Inspection Point. All U-hauls and other vehicles with household goods MUST Exit here.” A posted 35 mph sign would insure that most of the subject vehicles would exit 95 doing at least seventy and clear the base of the cliff.

    The same thing could be done at the Perrine Bridge and the west side of the Snake River Bridge by Ontario. Just think what we could do with the old Whitebird Grade and using imminent domain just a bit. . . Even better opportunities probably exist near our other borders.

    Idaho of the 1970s, 80s, 90s? Our way of life was terminally ill even then. The transplants just hadn’t been here long enough to know it. . .

    I too welcome transplants- – – I welcome them to pack up ALL their junk, their relatives, friends, cats, arrogance and chipboard houses then leave!

  18. The sale of previously owned homes in Eagle seems to have come almost to a complete stall. There are four homes on the 6th and 7th fairways of the Eagle Hills golf course which have been for sale for many, many months. These homes are 70’s vintage, but have great views. (Some have had considerable remodeling done.) There are at least three homes in the same area that have been bought in the last year or so and turned into rentals. Best wishes to the owners who may find it difficult to market these properties after they have been trashed. It is not that easy to find good tenants in this market.

    People coming here from exploding real estate markets naturally think our prices are a deal. They apparently want these huge, hulking McMansions which totally consume the lots on which they are built, most of which have a nice view of the neighbors house 10 feet away. Perhaps they won’t mind the heating and cooling bills, and the increasing cost of commuting to anywhere in the valley, since they won’t be finding work in Eagle or Star.

    Our government at all levels has apparently no desire to keep this valley from becoming another LA. The only solution is to call a moratorium, let everyone catch their breath, and rethink how to manage growth, along with issues of air quality and availability of water. (I do not intend to give up my little lawn so that developers from Arizona can cram another few thousand homes into this area. How selfish of me.)

  19. Boise growth– Although a former long time resident, I don’t recognize Boise anymore and, when I visit, I usually get lost.

  20. Sarah Wiltz
    Apr 27, 2006, 3:36 pm

    You can let people know we’re having a meeting 7pm Wednesday, May 24th at Hillside Jr. High to talk about the proposed development by Kastera in the central foothills.
    (Just north of Hill road from Hillside Jr. High to Bogus Basin Road.) Everyone who lives nearby, uses the hills, or just likes them the way they are is invited.

    Our goal is to get a group of very concerned neighbors working together to either stop this development or make it very, very small.

    Maybe even smaller than small!

    I’ll keep watching this site. It’s good fun.

  21. I see using the native card as nothing more than a schoolyard ploy to “neener-neener” at the new kids in school and is entirely counter-productive. Thank you, Sisyphus, for being a voice of reason.

  22. It is impossible to either control growth or manage it with those who currently hold Boise City Council and Mayorial seats. They constantly tell us how stupid we are (and uneducated for trying to preserve our neighborhoods) and our quality of life. They profess to be so much smarter than we are.

    Now we hear that they want the state to pass laws so they can have “local option” taxes – – so they can tax and spend and tax and spend even MORE!

    It is time to prepare to vote them out and stop them – or the blueprint for goofy growth will conitue, we will have a train that goes to an empty, closed Depot and we will have more of LESS quality of life.

  23. Limiting new construction will make housing prices go up faster.

    Look, Boise is going to stop growing, fairly soon, so yes, get involved in trying to preserve open space etc. Support someone progressive for the ADA county commisioner board. They’ve got the power.

  24. That’s very sad.. when I read what that farmer said a feeling of sadness invaded my emotions. Is unlimited developtment by Big Money with our politicians catering to their greed ( team Dave?) Progress??

    Boise is the only city I’ve lived in where I don’t worry about violence or crime or my personal safety. It’s a wonderful place to raise and educate children. I walk through the north end just to look at the beautiful homes and gardens ( Americana at it’s best!). My fellow boiseans, this peaceful way of life has disappeared forever all over America, don’t let ” team Dave and well monied friends” do it to you!!

  25. curious george
    Apr 27, 2006, 11:57 pm

    When I was in my twenties, newly married, and newly out of school (ages and ages ago) I had the opportunity to choose where I would live – for the very first time in my life. You see, I was born into a military family and had nothing remotely similar to what many call a “hometown”.

    Even though my wife and I only had 80 bucks cash-in-hand and a $300 check in the bank that hadn’t yet cleared, we picked up and moved to an out-of-the-way place half a country away. Yup, that’s right – Boise, Idaho.

    We put down roots, bought a home, raised a family. Our oldest is now a student at the Univ. of Idaho, and our youngest went to the same elementary school as her brother & and now goes to the same Junior High (and will probably go to the same High School). We’re not into “flipping” property – been in the same old house (our first) for the past 14 years. I get to walk to work when the weather’s good, we walk to church, and we can walk to the grocery store & coffee shop. None of this has changed in the years that we’ve lived in Boise.

    Now, I spent the whole first part of my life as the proverbial “outsider” (every place I lived in I was the “new kid on the block” with the funny clothes, funny haircut, and funny accent) and I know xenophobia when I see it. It is the nastiest form of abject hatred that a person can spew. And, it is the most blinding of hatreds – keeping everyone that adopts that fearful stance from being able to see viable solutions to problems.

    There is one absolute truth that I’ve learned in life; when a person chooses to live in a particular city – they become citizens of that city, an inseparable component of that place. The rate of growth of that city, the changing shape of that city, or the rapidity of social and cultural change within that city, may be byproducts of an influx of people – but it cannot change the nature of the choice these people made to become members of that community. It doesn’t matter where a person comes from, or how long ago they came from that place. If they live in Boise, they are Boiseans.

    If our town doesn’t fit with one of its citizen’s wishes, Pogo put it best;

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    I applaud everyone that stays committed to making & keeping this town a great place to live – but please remember, we are all in this together (even if some of us are newbies).

  26. It is critical that each of us get invloved in defending our quality of life – especially in our neighborhoods. Our city officials really don’t care what they do to destroy the things we value the most.

    One great example is how they are manipulating things is the Compass transportation plan. Many of us went to the public workshops only to find that the discussions were all “guided” to specific goals that were already set up.

    The new plan will be promoted as having allot of “public input” and that will be a joke – it was more like “public manipulation.”

  27. “Team Dave” leader Dave Bieter is pushing to populate the south hills with another round of development.” Gaurdian – Ask Dave which developer he has already ruffled the feathers of? I think those 15,000 acres and their owners would much rather deal with the Ada County. Avimor, The Cliffs and other leapfrog development frustrate Bieter because he has no chance at increasing his tax revenue. Notice how he said nothing in regards to the M3 announcement, Dave’s cohort in taxation, Nancy, already laid claim to the taxes. He sees the southern desert has his last chance to get the last remaining bits of land/taxes surrounding Boise.

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