City Government

The Down Side on The Foothills

Monday marks 5 years since voters passed the so called “Foothills Levy which created a fund to to keep parts of the Boise Front open to the public. Results have been mixed.
Foothills and City.jpg

The election was conducted in a fraudulent manner using taxpayer funds to promote passage of the levy. About $50,000 in city money was used to produce a video urging passage. It starred former Mayor Brent Coles before he was jailed.

The ballot language itself was written by those pushing for passage and not even seen by the City Council until AFTER people had begun voting. Had poll watcher Jimmy Carter seen the conduct of the election he would have been sick to his stomach.

That said–and it is all absolutely true–the measure did pass and proponents claim success, but admit to failures–”missed opportunities”– as they like to call them.

While the City has been able to “save” some land from developers, the foothills provide fertile breeding space for “growthophobes” as plans have been announced for populating as much space as possible with homes from Middleton to Lucky Peak. Greedy developers are often in the center of complicated land swap offers which ultimately would create even more land to be populated.
We find it ironic that Boise City policy is to increase housing density in most of the city while Mayor Dave Bieter and staff are advocating more development in the arid land south and east of Boise. Land that is home to rare birds, wintering big game–including resident antelope herds–is the area favored by Team Dave for thousands upon thousands of homes.

In the center of the area Team Dave wants to see developed is the home for killers, rapists, child molesters and all the other felons found in the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Not a nice neighborhood by any standard. Besides, there isn’t any sewer and water out there for housing.

It is downright silly that Boise pays for promotions and web site space to encourage increased population in the city. The city works hand in glove with the Chamber of Commerce and even has an “economic development office” to create more growth in the community. Then they spend the bulk of their time “solving growth issues!” It casts doubt in the mind of the GUARDIAN about the sincerity of conservation efforts.

A developer with plans to plop 4,000 to 5,000 homes near the Blacks Creek exit of I-84 southeast of Boise has submitted an application to Ada County for a “planned community.” No doubt Team Dave will greet this one with joy.

Other cities have recently passed “open space” measures, but not for limited areas–something Boise and the Greenies need to consider. “Conservation easements,” and other open space and habitat preservation efforts should not be limited to the froothills.

A group called the Land Trust of Treasure Valley seems the best bet for a united coalition of growthophobes who could rally to expand wildlife habitat preservation to ALL areas, It is headed by a guy named Tim Breuer.

If he–or someone like him–can extend the group’s focus beyond the Boise River and foothills, we may have a chance at saving some remaining wetland, gravel pit ponds, ditch banks, and other open space.

We haven’t checked lately, but the City has long had a non-resident volunteer ramrodding how Boise taxpayer money should be spent on parks and foothill land.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. A short comment about the foothills preservation effort: Law of unintended consequences will be at work here. As more land is “protected” the remaining foothills property becomes more valuable, to put it mildly. More valuable and more attractive to those who can afford it. I guess I’d rather see million $ estates than trailer parks.

    Economics 101, supply goes down while demand goes up, prices soar, i.e., profits soar for remaining landowners.

    I wonder if some of the people behind the clever foothills land supply reduction act are themselves owners of foothills land. What an ingenious way to make money!

    EDITOR NOTE–A current city councilor once told the GUARDIAN he favored the foothills levy because it, “would attract more CEOs who would move their companies to Boise.”

  2. curious george
    May 22, 2006, 11:25 am

    It’s interesting to see that despite the PR language for the Foothill’s Levy, there’s been surprisingly little land acquired – and little of it along prime wildlife areas. The focus seems to be on locking up view sheds that can be seen from Boise, and on swaths of land where is would be easiest to construct roads. The end result being that the remaining land will be accessed by more visable (i.e., cut & filled) roadways built by and for the uber-wealthy.

    There’s something so massively un-American about this, it turns my stomach. Perhaps by the time Patriot Act III rolls around, the little guy can add a clause that will allow us to lock up politicans that demonstrate such short-sightedness (ugh, who am I kidding?).

    It’s important to note that after all the attention focused on protecting critical wildlife habitat and ensuring public access to open space in the Boise City Foothills Policy Plan, the levy is doing little to realize the plan’s objectives. The area now proposed for development by Skyline was for sale long before Skyline purchased the property, but the city failed to seriously consider purchasing the land with levy funds. Now the property is expotentially more expensive.

    Of further interest in that Mr. Tony Jones, the most vocal opponent to Skyline’s proposed development, himself lives up on Hammer Flats – in a residential development illegally subdivided no less. I guess he got his, now screw everyone else.

    I’ve seen the same thing happen in Albuquerque, Anchorage, and Tucson. Unlike the previous commentator, I see little of “unintended consequences” at play.

    Ahh, the Golden Rule – he who has the gold, makes the rules. But, in this case public funds have been extracted from the common man – and are being used to keep the common man out of the picture. Isn’t it nice that our money is being used to construct our own, less than, guilded cage. And, all of our best laid plans will be used to line the bottom of that cage.

    I think that at some point we, our children, and grandchildren will become tenants in our own community. There’s already a huge disparity between the Have’s and Have-not’s in the valley. Our public schools are collapsing, transit services are virtually non-existant, and our basic public services are coming down around our ears. All while our elected leaders play their fiddles while Rome burns.

  3. What we need to see is a FULL accounting of what money has been collected, what has been spent on what – down to the cent by name and address – in very good detail – including who was paid for what… and who is making the decisions. Short of this all we know is that we got taxed and have no clue who is spending what and why.

    Where are all our local “investigative” TV and paper reporters?

  4. I find Nature one of the most beautiful aspects I can enjoy in any area that I live. Boise is blessed with a much more rural aspect than most other American cities which is why many People want to live here.

    Why does City government want to turn beautiful downtown Boise into another “urban blight” area, full of pollution , traffic congestion,and canyons of steel and concrete?
    Because the same developers they give the green light will keep them in office as lifetime incumbents. Now, that’s the epitomy of selfishness!

    The undeveloped areas east and south of Boise teem with native wildlife… these areas are prime camping and natural touring areas for hikers, bikers and those who love the outdoors ,including hunters and fishermen.

    We have the best of both worlds here in Boise- -a rural city surrounded by a paradise of nature. Let’s stop the developtment GREED and keep it that weay!

  5. The Boise Valley has certainly changed considerably since I returned from a stint in Alaska, Oregon and California 35 years ago. Some changes were for the better – when I remember what those are I will post another note.

    However, there is a tipping point for all growth. The immigration from Mexico is an example. I don’t mind if Mexicans want to move here but when you get to a number above 10 million who didn’t even ring the doorbell you have to wonder how many more tablesettings you can find in the pantry. This would be just as true if it were 10 million Brits or 10 million Chinese.

    Our valley is under a similar pressure – how many more thousands can we welcome before the quality of life that folks move here to enjoy will dry up? You obviously can’t tell the last few hundred thousand who moved here to leave. (Like the plan the US Senate hatched up – “if you haven’t been here two years or more you have to leave.” Right.)

    Who even knows how to calculate the number of people we can reasonably welcome? Where are the enviromentalists? Is anyone seriously worrying about the wildlife situation?What about water? What about gridlock? What about air quality? What about the effect on property taxes when dozens of more new schools need to be built? Where are the hikers and bikers and fishermen? Do they want traffic lights on the trails and rivers?

    I don’t think any of our politicians want to think more than two or three years down the road but we older folks owe it to the next generations not to leave this area unlivable. I have no family left in Boise but I still feel an obligation to the children and grandchildren of families in this valley.

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