City Government

Development Tide May Be On Ebb

The young man sitting next to me on the flight to Boise grew excited when I told him I have lived in the same home for nearly 36 years.

“Wow! You gotta be happy about property values going up over that amount of time,” said the newcomer from San Jose. He had attended university and married in Tennessee and wanted to move back to his native California–but he couldn’t afford to live there.

When a 1400 square footer costs upwards of half a million, Idaho is a bargain basement–especially for the guy who sells that 1400 footer. He moves to Idaho, doubles his size for $375,000 and has money left over for an SUV.

None of this is news to those of us who live here, and California just happens to be the nearest and most recent housing market to produce millionaires out of otherwise pretty middle class folks. In Idaho it is the farmers and ranchers with large land holdings who benefit from selling their acres to eager developers.

The net result is these people who paid next to nothing in property taxes for a lifetime under “agricultural exemptions” suddenly strike it rich. For the rest of us it means increased land values that result in increased taxes. Our land is worth more, but only if we sell it.
Then we are faced with the question of “where do WE go?”

Resentment manifests it self as “anti-Californian,” but the same situation once existed in Hawaii when the Japanese invaded the second time–with money in the 1980’s and 90’s.

Montana’s Bitter Root Valley south of Missoula has suffered as much as Idaho, but last week signaled a change in attitude. Voters tossed out the conservative Ravalli County commissioners and made it clear “enough is enough” when it comes to rampant growth.

That valley is dotted with log cabins that rival the grandeur of Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Of course the neighbor’s property value–and tax–skyrockets as soon as the newby builds his dream home.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Sounds like what happened to Peavy-Derr. If the other Ada commishes and Boise council don’t pay attention they could be heading to the same fate. I think this falls election could be critical to the future direction of the area and we need to pay attention and hold the candidates feet to the fire.

  2. Oh dear, if only we could somehow summon the wherewithal to vote out our beloved Commissioners.

    I’d think that would be the first baby steps toward progress in our fair city/county.

  3. There are an increasing # of us, residents of Idaho, who are aghast at the open prostitution of Idaho land by those “agricultural thinkers” in our governing agencies who stand to profit from that prostituiton of Idaho in the name of “fostering growth”.
    The growth is coming, but the political accountability to the little land owners/ homeowners for protecting them is intellectually and in all prcticality, non existent. Developer’s pay little, if any, of the burden of infrastructure developement. Us little guys foot that bill.

    Republican or Democrat, makes little difference. Those with money or status in the community have power. That’s what they keep pushing us to believe, and we , the rest of Idaho let them.
    If these officials and developers are going to rape property owners on our quality of life they should, at least, pay for it; -Impact fees and providing for the costs of roads., schools, etc..
    So far those who raise concerns have been seen as “a tempest in a teapot”. Will it take a foaming, whitewater torrent to get these big money officials to do something to control the growth?
    The difference is the volume of people speaking up.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: