City Government

Boise And ACHD Launch Rockets

What were once minor terrorist attacks between Boise City and Ada County Highway District have become all out war over the size of Ustick Road. City wants three lanes and the district wants five.

ACHD launched a surprise attack on the legally crippled Boise City government with a lawsuit on Tuesday. First it was the Attorney General opining that ACHD had total rule over the roads, despite Boise`s MASTER PLAN and now legal action.

Boise changed the comp plan and now wants to make nice with the highway boys who have all the high tech weapons (the law) on their side.

Like the situation with Israel and Lebanon, it appears their are no winners and whatever the court rules will not bring peace to the warring factions. Meanwhile the refugees living along Ustick will suffer collateral damage and blame it all on ACHD.

In the ACHD press release they said the narrow road plan of the city was just more of the mindset that caused the fiasco over Curtis Road extension. ACHD is not about to be victim of another surprise attack from Boise City.

Boise is responding to neighbors desire to keep the east-west route small, slow, and quiet. It is too late because all the previous growthophiles approved subdivisions along the road and now Meridian is gushing about the new Kohl`s Department store at UStick and Eagle Road.

Boise`s Team Dave legal department hasn`t won many battles so here is what leader Dave Bieter said: “It matters less who’s right on the legal technicalities. What really matters is that we work things out, solve problems, and serve citizens by protecting neighborhood livability.” That`s a lawyer way of trying to get a plea bargain because he has a bad case!

ACHD no doubt will continue bombing raids to prevent Boise City from re-arming during any lull in the action.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Funny how when the city council denied the appeal of the massive condo project up by the depot they told the neighborhood that they could not deny the project because it met all the “legal technicalities”.

    No matter that the project was (and is) the wrong thing in the wrong place and was simply a gift to their “friend” the developer. (Yes folks if you look in the transcript of the hearing several Councilors actually used the word friend.)

    They even said that because ACHD “approved” the 400-500 extra car trips a day on narrow neighborhood streets with no sidewalks that they “HAD TO ABIDE BY ACHD’s FINDINGS”!

    Funny huh?

  2. The “refugees” should rebel against their oppressors. The Mayor, City Council, ACHD, G-BAD, and all the other acronyms involved should be held to account for the destruction of our city.

    Can we get tar and feathers at Home Depot?

  3. Dave,

    I think your analogies on the latest two post are in poor taste. The references to insurgents and rocket attacks have nothing to do with the growth in the Treasure Valley. The analogy of Dave Bieter and the ACHD gang of launching terrorist attacks on each other is just plain insensitive. People die and get hurt from insurgents, rocket attacks and terrorist attacks, including U.S. soldiers and innocent civilians. I rarely agree with Dave Bieter but would never go as far as comparing him to a terrorist.

    The only analogy that makes a little sense is “Like the situation with Israel and Lebanon, it appears their are no winners and whatever the court rules will not bring peace to the warring factions” until you refer to the refugees living on Ustick. I could go on and on about this but I think you get the point.

    I also think you are starting to bring a little to much slant to the Guardian. Your work on the Boise Sewer farm and the Boise Airport funding/Supreme court cases are a examples of what type of media outlet we need with the Boise Guardian. The piece on TheCliffs/ITD was also okay as it pointed to a problem the government trying to get around the system. But ranting and raving about the planned communities going here and there is accomplishing nothing. The developments are meeting or exceeding the planned community ordinances on the books.

    Why don’t you work on changing the process instead of complaining about the outcomes. Areas of change to look at would be impact fees, local taxing districts, and land use planning. A line could be drawn around Boise, Meridian and Eagle like Portland but that would draw the ire of the eminent domain folks.

    EDITOR NOTE–Good points all. Stick around Cman because you will see the rivalry between the 900 pound Boise gorilla and the rest of the valley increasing. The race to annex and grow is fueled by different growth plans and goals of the various agencies.

  4. I suspect that in the end the voters will have their say. I think it was E. B. White who said “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half
    of the people are right more than half the time.”

    All you have to do to understand the Ustick issue is drive down Ustick during rush hour between Curtis and Five Mile. While you’re sitting at the numerous stop lights watching them cycle numerous times, ask yourself whether there needs to be 5 lanes or 3? My guess is that you’ll side with ACHD.

    With the growth along Eagle Road the Ustick snarl will just get worse. When the Three City Bridge is completed the traffic jams on Maple Grove, 5 Mile & Cloverdale will get worse. To escape these, people will turn onto Ustick and so on.

    Problem is that there is an active vocal minority who are most impacted by the 5 lane option who have rallied the Mayor to their defense. It’s good politics for the Mayor because he doesn’t have anything to lose in an area that wasn’t overwelming supportive in the last election.

    I gave money to and voted for the Mayor in the last election, but I’ll be re-evaluating that support when I sit in the traffic jams on Ustick before the next election.

  5. Tar at Home Depot, yes, but for the feather’s we’ll have to wait for the new Kohl’s to be finnished.

  6. ACHD’s simpleminded solution to growth is to constantly widen roads. Well, that has proven over and again not fix traffic congestion problems. But what it does do is destroy neighborhoods. There are other more creative solutions that other cities have done, and that do work much better than the default solution of widening.

  7. Yeah Rod we’ll all go to Home Depot and get what we need. But wait a minute, if we didn’t build and grow then we wouldn’t get those big chain stores like Home Depot to go and get our supplies. What is a person to do? Build or not to build that is the question.

  8. The staff and attorneys are running ACHD. One ACHD Commissioner has admitted that the Commissioners doubt the staff are giving them correct or complete information for their decision making processes.

  9. For nearly a million dollars the ACHD-hired Blueprint for Good Growth planners have advised ACHD and Boise City to work together on land use and transportation planning. ACHD’s PR guy Craig Quintana came across as heavy handed and arrogant on television last night, essentially saying that ACHD doesn’t have to work with anyone since they have absolute power in transportation planning. For the past several years ACHD has refused to provide public records to the public, and has refused to provide notifications of hearings and work sessions to impacted citizens. This agency proves that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Idaho made a mistake with ACHD. There is good reason that there are no others like it in the United States. It’ll have to be changed at the legislative level.

    EDITOR NOTE–And thanks to the lobbying efforts of Boise City Council we citizens lost 80% of our voting authority to do anything about ACHD. In their zeal to get rid of Gary Richardson they got the legislature to increase the number of commissioners on ACHD to 5, but we are only allowed to vote for 1–because the voting is now done by district rather than countywide. That means we are ALL 80% disenfranchised. Previously we were allowed to vote for 100% of the (3) commishes. GUARDIAN is strong on allowing the people to vote. Boise City doesn’t like citizens to have a voice.

  10. curious george
    Aug 9, 2006, 5:28 pm


    Had to laugh when you used the phrase, “Can we get tar and feathers at Home Depot?” Given that Home Depot is an Atlanta, GA based conglomerate – and certainly not a local business.

    Such big-box stores demand, and are completely reliant upon, a vast dendritic network (for you non-library types George means “branched form like a tree”) of interconnected roadways – many of which are far wider than are needed to service just local traffic.

    But then, it’s awfully hard to carry a sheet of Georgia Pacific plywood and Luisiana Pacific 2×4’s home – strapped to the back of your bicycle.

  11. I’ve long thought that it was far past time to take an axe to ACHD (much more effective than tar and feathers, folks) and cut it down to size.

    The agency is designed to build roads, and that’s what it does. Subdividers build subdivisions. Neither cares whether the things they build are needed, well-designed, destructive or whatever, any more than a chicken hawk worries about what the chickens think of being eaten.

    But if it’s true that the ACHD is God and cannot be overruled by the City Council, County Commission, voters or anyone else, that it’s damned sure time to change the laws or rules or whatever that lets the allmighty roadbuilders do whatever they want to, regardless.

    What ever happened to checks and balances, the American way, etc.?
    Oh, well; I guess the problem will take care of itself — eventually, ACHD will have the entire valley paved, striped and gridlocked, with a traffic light every 15 feet or so, none of them sychronized, and then begin tearing up all of the roads at once to “improve” them.

    By the way, you *can* get tar at the few smaller, locally owned hardware stores that have managed to survive the onslaught of the giants — and, of course, ACHD undoubtedly has tons of it available, so why not use their’s? As for the feathers: I’m sure Merrill’s egg farm has some leftovers.

  12. This city is correct on this issue. ACHD should NOT be allowed to build or widen roads within cities without input and cooperation from those cities. If the Blueprint for Good Growth is going to be effective, then ACHD should have to comply with the city’s comprehensive plan. Otherwise we end up with dissected and disconnected communities, and ACHD running rampant with projects only trying to justify their own existence.

  13. Considering the madness being perpetrated by our leaders at the local, state and federal levels, we should all be looking for places to buy tar and feathers. Home Depot just came to mind first. There are probably plenty of locally-owned outlets for those things, not to mention torches and pitchforks.

    I just came back from a wedding in Baltimore, and if the local leaders here are trying to make Boise into a city of that size, then I will be looking to buy stuff other than just tar, feathers, torches, and pitchforks, and so should you.

  14. Funny, MikeB, I had exactly the opposite reaction driving down Ustick at both rushes on Tuesday. I’m seldom over that way, but I was thinking it would be a big mistake to widen Ustick to 5 lanes to accommodate more east-west traffic. Better to plan for a larger arterial elsewhere that won’t ruin a charming neighborhood and its road.

  15. I’m with meglea.

    If you think more asphalt will resolve the traffic problems, then Los Angeles is the model. They’ve sure eliminated all their traffic problems with all those roads, huh?

  16. Where is there a “Charming” neighborhood along Ustick between Cole-5mile? The charm ends at Mnt. View Dr.. When the inmates of Ada county are sent out to do the yard work along Ustick because the residents won’t, that’s where the charm ends.
    Sure, it may be an easment but I would not allow a jungle at the rear of my property if it was public ground and I had access.

  17. Curious George
    Aug 12, 2006, 12:00 pm

    Let’s take the argument to another level.

    The average household size in Ada County is 2.54 people, yet each home generates 9.57 vehicle trips per day. So traffic (and its congestion) increases over 3 3/4 times faster than the county’s population.

    This ‘average’ family has two working parents, making four vehicle trips per day to get back and forth to work. The rest of the 5 1/2 trips (nearly 60% of all traffic) comes from having to drive the kids around to school & after school activities – and having to drive to buy groceries & clothes, go to the dentist & doctor, go the library, and (if you have time) going to the bar to knock back the occasional beer (or to engage in whatever adult recreation of your choice).

    You can see how the majority of traffic impacts are intertwined with the land uses surrounding a person’s home. What if your kid could walk to school & walk to soccer practice, what if the local library was next to your kid’s school, what if the pub was right around the corner from your house, or you could hop on your bike right onto a recreational trail? What if you could run your business right from your home without having to run through the bureaucratic guantlet at your local land use agency – and a high-bandwidth internet connection was brought right to your home at no extra charge?

    If all these things could be accomplished, cutting traffic congestion in half could all be done without having to touch (let alone widen) a single existing road. And, what if this could be done without having to spend a single extra penny of tax money.

    Yet Boise’s response to the only such developments that could accomplish this goal has been obstructionary. Boise has sued the county over Avimor (which proposes to construct all of the abovementioned community elements), and has issued a Papal Bull objecting to the planned community development at Hammer Flats (which will provide even more such community elements).

    Boise’s opposition has nothing to do with being an advocate for responsible growth, or anything to do with protecting its existing neighborhoods. If it was, it would be jumping on the planned community bandwagon. Instead, Boise opposes growth patterns that would reduce traffic through existing neighborhoods – for what reason?

    The only reason that I can think of has to do with giving the ‘impression’ that its willing to duke it out for the little guy – as long as it doesn’t actually cost anything. And, ‘cost’ is the key word. Boise is incredibly anxious to increase its tax income, and so far the only local government that seems to have its head screwed on right is Ada County. A planned community out in the county cuts into Boise government’s tax-avarice, and threatens to expose its tremendous indifference to the traffic plight of its citizens.

  18. As I have commented before, I fail to see how a so called “planned community” will generate less traffic. Mom and Dad will still have to drive to work, the kids will have to be taken to school because neighborhood schools are no longer being built. Soccer practice doesn’t seem to take place at school anyway – I rarely see anyone using the acres of ground that surround every new school. As far as I can tell every car coming and going from Avimor will follow Highway 55 to State Street and on. What does that say about being a “planned community?”

  19. curious george
    Aug 14, 2006, 9:20 pm

    It is true that current school district policies prohibit school athletic fields from being used for non-school events (eg, youth soccer), unless special circumstances warrant due to percieved liability isses. PC (PLANNED COMMUNITY) developers are mandated to donate all the land required to build the schools which the development’s homes require. This donation is taken into consideration by the districts, and use of the fields are granted for non-school youth athletic events. Costs to maintain the fields are then underwritten by the developer.

    The Boise School district assumes that 13 students are generated for every 20 homes; seven of these students would be in elementary school, three in junior high, and three in senior high. Meridian School District assumes a slightly higher student generation rate (bigger families). The Cliffs developer seems to be taking this into account when he agreed to donate an elementary school site within the development, and pay for all busing for kids until such time as the development has enough homesites to demand an on-site school. This would be towards the full build-out of the development, when The Cliffs’ families would generate just under 500 elementary school students and just over 200-each of junior & senior high students.

    I believe Avimor has been required to donate an elementary school site, and the Avimor and Dry Creek developers will be collaborating to donate a combined junior high & senior high school site. Dry Creek itself, if approved, would also have to donate at least two additional elementary school sites.

    The last neighborhood school constructed in the region was the charter school at the Hidden Springs Planned Community. This school gives enrollment priority to families who live in the Dry Creek Valley (mostly Hidden Springs families – though not exclusively), the school site was donated by the HSPC developer, and the bank loan used to pay for the permanent school building was secured by the HSPC developer.

    But since the real issue is traffic congestion, even poorly designed Planned Communities are already assessed a lower traffic generation rate by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (7.5 trips per day, versus 9.57 in a conventional suburban development). More well-designed PC’s record even lower traffic generation rates – because the majority of the residents’ needs are within walking distance of their homes.

    If Boise leaders were really concerned about traffic congestion in existing neighborhoods, they would start to adopt land use patterns that are identical to the county’s Planned Community ordinance. In fact, since I’m sure some of the traffic driving down Ustick isn’t coming from Boise but from parts west, this more-inclusive (non-auto reliant) land use pattern should be embraced by all the towns in the Valley.

    Let’s really make development pay for itself.

  20. More Monkey Business
    Aug 15, 2006, 1:05 pm

    ELV – – your dreaming…wake up!

  21. George – the fact is that the City DOES NOT CARE about traffic or traffic loads. If you look over virtually every set of minutes from the last 4 years the City Council even states in its own comments that, “they have no control over roads – that is ACHD’s job”. And then they all vote against efforts to control traffic. This is a fact you can research.

    The ONLY reason Ustick Road is an issue is because the City DID NOT act on any concern in the begining and got a huge amount of hate mail for it.

    Oh – – and next year is an election year – maybe that is the bigger reason – ya think?

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