Raping The Land For Profit



I was up Hideden Springs in the foothills recently and I was shocked at the flagrant destruction of open space that has taken place.

Foothills developments seem to have been escalating recently despite popular
opposition, and despite city and county planners paying lip service to protecting
open spaces. However, I have never seen anything done to this extent, and in this fashion.
The area between Cartwright and Dry Creek roads amounts to a virtual gouging of the land. Instead of responsibly building around and over the existing topography, the developer simply flattened entire hills and filled in whole valleys, creating a landscape similar to a strip mine like you would see in Montana.

At least a couple million cubic yards have been moved or excavated, I estimate without exageration. Current Creek, which once flowed under the area, is now buried under at least 10-20 feet of fill dirt. Bulldozers have turned up
remains of freshwater mullusks, embedded in the shale, that have possibly been buried in the landscape for hundreds of years or more. Whole hillsides have been
removed, in some cases leaving cut banks over 50 feet high from where the hill was sliced in half.

Worse than the devastation to make way for yet more homes for the wealthy, is the issue of broken promises. The developer originally set aside this area to be open space, free from development. In fact that was one of the selling points of the area that the developer promised. Ridge to Rivers had a network of official trails here, that are now gone. And Hidden Springs residents have lost an area where they used to walk their dogs and commune with nature.

I am not sure how the county approved this monstrosity, or whether they were even aware of the scope of the project. It may well have been rushed through the approval
process. Even from a geo-physical standpoint, it is a badly designed project, due to the potential of soil erosion from the high steep banks and abundant fill dirt,
atop a former drainage.

I have been active in trying to protect our open spaces from development for a while, and it is frustrating because it is a losing battle. Hopefully, with more understanding, we can at least lessen the chances of something like this happening again.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Clippityclop
    Aug 25, 2007, 9:18 pm

    I think every Ada P&Z Commissioner and County Commissioner who voted to approve this phase of Hidden Springs should be made to walk this site and see what they have wrought. I also think Ada County Development staff, who is supposed to monitor development and adherence to conditions of approval, should pack their lunch and go with them.

    If you have a moment, read the Hidden Springs resident survey from 2004 which used to be available on the County website ( — it’s a tale of broken promises. (You’ll probably find it if you Google ‘Hidden Springs Survey.’) My guess is, the Hidden Springs residents aren’t very happy about this devastation either. And their developer, Frank Martin, is, interestingly, an Ada County P&Z Commissioner.

    Recall that per a previous Guardian guest story, Mr. Martin got himself in a tight spot over a conflict of interest issue and failure to recuse himself on the Avimor Phases 2-6 vote. Apparently he got an opinion from the Prosecuting Attorney saying he really didn’t have a conflict — but perhaps this is an issue better dealt with by the AG’s office. With note in hand, he voted to approve the next phases of Avimor, as did every other P&Z Commissioner except Hayes and Edgar (now that’s a story, but I digress).

    Expect construction traffic and worrisome safety problems on highway 55 for the next several years, as if the two recent deaths weren’t enough to rethink access permits. Whatever happened to the strong stance ITD took at the beginning of the year? They seem to have folded like a lawn chair. What kind of precedent are they setting here? Whatever happened to public safety? Folks, this is out of control.

  2. Colleen Fellows
    Aug 25, 2007, 10:27 pm

    Which development is this for? You say it is near Hidden Springs, but is it a new phase of Hidden Springs, an expansion of a different development or an entirely new development? Generally speaking, foothills development requires the approval of mitigation plans.

    However, the State has been very lax about issuing cease and desist orders to developers who proceed with grading and excavation prior to the submission and approval of their wildlife habitat and riparian area mitigation plans by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. A Fish and Game employee recently told me that this was the case with the Avimor development. Significant grading was done at Avimor without the developers having ever submitted a mitigation plan with IDFG let alone waited until it was approved, and the State did nothing. Perhaps Avimor engineers would argue that the movement of hills and construction of new ones amounted to only minor grading, all things being relative.

    The development of additional planned communities in the Dry Creek drainage such as Kastera Shadow Valley and Dry Creek Ranch and others pose equally difficult challenges to the Blue Print for Good Growth and area wildlife habitat. Check out the Dry Creek Neighborhood Rural Association website for key information on area development and its implications at

    EDITOR NOTE–The area being discussed is an expansion (another phase?) of Hidden Springs. I believe the “planned community” thing got changed to just another suddivision. These are the folks who ruined Cartwright Road and had to pay ACHD to fix slides the developer created.

  3. Thank you, Matt Ciranni, for writing this up. This is exactly why so many people are up-in-arms over potential foothills development. For years, Hidden Springs patted itself on the bad for its ecologically sensitive design, and look at what they’ve wrought. Heaven help the foothills when the rest of these developers get through with them–they’ll be leveled, graded, covered with lawns, and made to look like all other housing developments all across this country, rather than something unique and beautiful.

    Frank Martin, Chair of the local Urban Land Institute, heads this up. And ULI loves ot give advice to developers. What Martin, ULI, the County Commissioners, most of the County P&Z, and Development Services are doing to the foothills is scandalous. How can we stop them???

  4. Interestingly, this area was formerly included in the Ridge to Rivers trail system and maintained with our tax money. The R to R folks have no power to deal with the sacred cow of private property rights. I quit walking this area last year as the devastation began.

    I couldn’t stand to see the camas lined creek, the hills covered with balsamroot ans mariposa lily gouged up to make room for Kentucky bluegrass and palm trees (literally there are people up there stupid enough to pay thousands for mature palm trees, which are now of course dead!)

    This is a crime against nature and a theft of a natural heritage that should belong to all of us (never mind the eagles, owls, foxes coyotes). And as bad as all this is, we’re also paving over our farmland for the same reasons. I hope all the supporters of “economic development” will be happy sitting on their postage stamp condo deck, breathing filthy air and munching on soylent green.

    We the people are comatose and seem unable to respond. Waiting for the elections are not enough, and there are no candidates that can provide real leadership on alternatives to the current cancer style growth.

    We have to do something now or there will be little left to distinguish Boise from any other series of strip malls. Much is already lost. We have been lulled into complacency by the promise of the Foothills Levy, which was nice but never adequate to address the true environmental impact of foothills development. You can’t preserve and entire ecosystem by simply setting aside a few chunks of land and creating trails. Because see, the land serves more of a purpose than simply to provide home sites and recreational opportunities for consumers.

    Seems like it’s time for a citizen’s coalition, neighborhood associations, environmental and social organizations, and a damn smart lawyer. Our “leaders” have failed us miserably so we apparently need to show them the way.

    If anyone didn’t have the chance to see this formerly amazing area, I have quite a few before photos if you would like to know exactly what we’ve lost.

    I’m going to go throw up now, please excuse me.

  5. Right before I read this, I was thinking about riding my mountain bike over there. I used to ride over Seaman’s Gulch and then up that trail system that was built when Hidden Springs first went in. It was a really nice trail. Are you saying THAT trail is now gone? There was a part of it where there was this meadow and a bridge that crossed over a creek–it was so cool. If this is what is now gone, I am OUTRAGED. Shame on them.

    I have seen palm trees in that super expensive development above Quail Ridge Golf Course. I had to laugh. Are people stupid enough to think palm trees will grow here?

  6. Dr Spielvogel
    Aug 26, 2007, 4:34 pm

    Unless he has recently resigned in shame, Frank Martin, the Hidden Springs developer, is a member of the Ada County Planning and Zoning Commission. He is particularly talented at acting as if he is agonizing over approving other destructive, unneeded foothills developments such as Hammer Flats before voting to approve them. How a large scale developer is appointed to the P&Z Commission is another issue rooted in Ada County’s darkly stained past.

  7. curious george
    Aug 26, 2007, 6:16 pm

    Although palm trees aren’t native to Idaho, many varietals do grow in this hardiness zone – if given careful stewardship. They do have some good qualities, mostly their drought tolerance.

    But their “alieness” to this climate can be said of most every tree found in the Boise Tree Planting Guide, all lawn grasses, and most every flowing plant & shrub found in a typical gardening center.

    What’s more interesting is that this last phase of Hidden Springs is completely consistent with the development’s original “plan”. A plan which few found objectionable (present company excepted, of course).

    As I recall, Cheek Grass was originally transplanted to a University of Idaho test plot at the turn of the last Century, as a possible feed grass for grazing cattle. It just got a little out of hand.

    A larger lesson to take from all this (planting & “planning”) is that we rarily demonstrate the foresight necessary when we attempt to change an ecology. Understanding the mistakes of our past is even more critical than citing our successes.

    Although we call Boise “The City of Trees”, regular old Cottonwood is about the only native species in the valley. I, for one, find the diversity of plants (and people) refreshing. And, shunning all new transplants is only slightly less ignorant than importing known dangerous species.

    If Cut ‘n Fill develoment is something we now want to disallow (which would be a substantial change from the past), then posit some alternatives – Grade Attentuated Sloping, Constrained Building Envelopes, etc.

    Is the solution to the problem really who sits on the P&Z Commission, or a general lack of public interest in finding solutions and an unwillingness to learn from our own history?

    EDITOR NOTE–Well done George. I assume you missed today’s press release news on TV from (I think BSU) regarding a “soil fungus” they have developed to fight cheek (cheat) grass. It will be interesting to see what else it will kill in addition ot the target species.

  8. Clippityclop
    Aug 26, 2007, 10:35 pm

    I agree with much of what you say, with the small correction that it’s CHEAT grass, not cheek. I also don’t agree with you letting P&Z entirely off the hook because the public has been quite vocal about developer failings to no avail — witness the Hidden Springs survey and the many folks who take the time to comment on various development applications (I think The Cliffs had over 3,000).

    Despite this, the Commission fails to respond, which in turn leaves many folks feeling quite powerless to affect change and contributes to lack of public involvement. Quite sad, when most of them find development and growth run amok abhorrent. I couldn’t agree with you more that the public needs to take a stand and demand change. That could certainly happen with the upcoming elections throughout the valley, but I do feel our officials need to demonstrate some real leadership. As it stands now, about the only person on P&Z or County Commission with any (n)guts is Steve Edgar.

  9. sam the sham
    Aug 26, 2007, 11:28 pm

    While I am as shocked and disgusted as the rest i often calm myself by thinking of what this valley looked like before the first settlers arrived. It is our culture that has brought this about folks. Do you not think about how this valley looks – your neighborhood – to people who may have loved this area 100 years ago?

    Which one of you is willing to give up your green lawns and the structures you live in to the type of lives folks lived in the past?

    I don’t hear anyone speaking up.
    All I hear is the hum of the cars and the AC’s and the TVs and the espresso machines and the hot water heaters and the mountain bikes ripping up the foothills and the voices of all of the children being born. more and more and more population and what they think they NEED to exist.
    look in the mirror people look around your own neighborhood. Look at your own asphalt.

  10. Colleen Fellows
    Aug 27, 2007, 12:58 am

    As George rightly remarks, there are implications, good and bad, of introduced species. I concur. However, I did note an inaccuracy with his example of “cheek grass”. While being a cheeky little bugger, this invasive pest does not owe it’s Idaho roots to the auspices of the University of Idaho.

    The initial method of introduction of Bromus tectorum, more commonly known as cheat grass or downy broam, has not been narrowed down to a single event. Genetic studies and dispersal models have shown that several invasions have occurred over a period of time, the first beginning in the 1880’s. These studies found that initial introductions most likely occurred accidentally through contaminated packing materials from Europe and Eurasia, used in rail shipments across the western United States.

    Dispersion models show that B.tectorum then spread outward from areas along rail systems through various modes of dispersal. It was only later, in the early twentieth century, that spread of B. tectorum occurred through intentional introduction by ranchers who sought an early spring grass for cattle. With insight like theirs, I can only guess they graduated from the U of I.

  11. Oh please George, just because a plant (or a person or an industry) CAN grow somewhere does not mean that is is desirable or sustainable. Where is the “diversity” in acres of bluegrass, lines of Japanese barberries, invasive Pennisetum and other ornamentals that are planted in every new subdivision and strip mall. Just because complete ignorance of a unique ecology is the norm does not mean that it should be perpetuated. Your view of diversity in plant life is my view of a giant vegetative tumor that is swallowing up unique plants and animals in exchange for perceived ease of maintenance and our desire to surround ourselves with ultra-green walls of denial about the true nature of this place we call home.

    I have heard many alternatives presented here (in previous discussions) to mitigate and direct growth, though most cut profits for developers and run contrary to the Republican/Libertarian canard of the sanctity of private property rights. However, the suggested alternatives carry little weight without being championed by a leader of influence or demanded large scale by the citizens that are being robbed blind and sold a bill of goods called “quality of life” that will soon be non-existent.

    Certainly, local nurseries are full of inappropriate plants (drought tolerance is an over-rated criteria for selection)and unfortunately have few trained employees familiar with the use of native and ecologically appropriate plants (I am not strictly a native plant nazi). However, natives are now more widely and reliably available. The problem I have with palms and other ridiculously inappropriate plants (especially in areas adjacent to open spaces)is that it negates and devalues the existing beauty and rich diversity that makes this place different from Las Vegas or LA. The desert is beautiful, embrace that diversity!

    Anyone interested in learning more about landscaping with (and the environmental value of)regional natives can view a great guide online at the Idaho Native Plant Society website at:

    Great locally grown natives can be purchased at Draggin’ Wing Farm (at the farm and CO-Op in season)

    Native and Xeric Plants in Emmett

    and for wholesale try Jayker

    However, you’re absolutely right about the lack of political will on behalf of many citizens. But combined with short sighted leadership, as Kodos would say, “people of Earth, you are doomed, DOOMED! It is not enough to simply posit alternatives on a blog unless those ideas are backed up by action.

    We the people need to act as a society, but we as individuals can do a lot to lead the way without waiting for an organization or politician to tell us how. We may not save Currant Creek today, but we can make our own homes and yards small sanctuaries to mitigate other destruction.

    Here are my suggestions for immediate personal action.

    Kill your lawn. Help replace lost wildland habitat by replacing your grass monoculture with a mix of shrubs and flowers emphasizing natives that support native fauna

    Grow some people food. Make a veggie garden or incorporate food crops into flower beds (and yes George, few of our food crops are native)

    Stop using any chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Natural alternatives are available for any garden problem and most chemicals are petroleum based. The massive sales of Roundup and Miraclegro are more a testament to powerful marketing than an actual consumer need.

    In regards to CHEAT grass (Bromus tectorum) it is important to note that Mike Pellant pointed out at the end of the Statesman article that the best defense against exotic plant invaders is a robust native plant community.(Cheat grass probably came from contaminated grain shipped from Asia in the late 1800’s and is called cheat grass because it sucks as forage and “cheats”the rancher out of other forage grasses).

    The fungal approach will be limited at best (as Dave hinted at above) I’m betting too, that the “black fingers of death” will also be genetically modified to enhance the lethality to cheat grass and we’re beginning to see how well that approach works.

    So, Curious, you suggested a few regulatory changes for the P&Z approach, but I missed any suggestions for your last question of the “general lack of public interest in finding solutions and an unwillingness to learn from our own history?”

    Posit that please, I’m already familiar with the horticultural requirements of palms.

  12. There are some statements that need to be reconciled. Matt says “The developer originally set aside this area to be open space, free from development.” Yet Curious George states, “this last phase of Hidden Springs is completely consistent with the development’s original “plan”. A plan which few found objectionable.”

    Both of these cannot be true. Was this development part of the original plan all the time? If this is what was originally proposed and approved (before Frank Martin’s time I believe) then that’s what the developer is entitled to do. Matt’s photos look dramatic, every bit as dramatic as farmland subdivisions or any other development that must reshape and recover the land, but that is not reason enough to object to this construction. (Indeed, Hidden Springs has added farmland and not many developments do that). If such photos were sufficient, we’d all still be living in caves as all development is disruptive to some extent.

    To me, the issue here is: Was this allowed?

  13. All I can add is that you have a lot of really smart people adding to your blog. It sure makes for good reading. Thanks to everyone.

  14. curious george
    Aug 27, 2007, 11:48 am

    Mea Culpa for my cheekiness 😉

    One solution to the lack of good leadership at the P&Z level is to increase its membership. Twelve is the maximum size permitted by law, and in the State’s most populated county I can’t see why this hasn’t already been done. And, ensure that the ranks of this group accurately reflect the demographics of the larger community – to include the maximum permitted number of city residents.

    And, while this may seem contrary to my purpose, force the Board of County Commissioners to vest more authority in the (expanded) P&Z Commission. Right now, the Commission has little authority to decide any land use issue. Almost all serious development projects are decided upon by the Board – let the Board decide issues on appeal if necessary. If twelve citizens can decide the fate of someone on trial (even if they live or die) – I’m sure that they can successfully wrestle with a development application.

    Demand that the county institute development standards within the various Areas of City Impact that mirror the standards for each respective city. Further, demand that the county begin the process of drafting Design Review ordinances that will protect rural and natural areas from unwarranted encroachments – and require that these standards also address how sub-urban development may (or may not) be permitted.

    And for the cities (for this is not a county-only issue), demand that each community fully commit to the Blueprint for Good Growth policies and standards. The county, for its part, appears to be playing the largest role in this effort – in its committment of resources (human and financial) and in its new Comp Plan (and the ordinances that must follow the Plan’s adoption). Don’t let the cities off the hook – especially Star, Kuna, and (especially) Eagle.

    It seems to be a truism in local neighborhood oppositional strategies – that the only time people show up to testify is when a proposed development threatens to gore their sacred cow (it’s too close to my home, it’s right on top of my favorite trail, it’s too dense, it’s not dense enough, etc.) Start showing up at regularly scheduled public meetings of the Board of County Commissioners and City Councils (not just at planning hearings) – and start demanding change! Why wait for an election? Why wait for an invitation?

    There’s always an opportunity for the public to speak – even if it isn’t always acknowledged. Don’t wait for someone to put the item “Paradigm Shift” on a public agenda.

    Remember the past!!!

    Back when Commissioner Tilman was still in the Statehouse (before Dirk Kempthorn appointed him to fill Grant Kingsford’s seat upon his retirement), he personally carried the water for the piece of legislation that gutted all regional planning efforts. I’m speaking of the revision of the Annexation Law. Most people are aware that the law (50-222) was revised in 2002 to give private property owners more traction to resist annexation, many folks from Southwest Boise testified in support of this revision. Few are aware that Fred Tilman also inserted language that permitted land owners to “consent” to annexation – even if the property was outside of the city’s Area of City Impact.

    Before this change was enacted a city was legally barred from annexing outside of its Impact Area because it had either never planned for this expansion, or because its “plan” was never legally recognized.

    This restriction was the ONLY tool that kept rampant urban sprawl in check. Now-commissioner Tilman’s apparant answer to spawl is “Let the cities annex the land, then they can deal with the mess.”

    He’s hoping that nobody will remember the “mess” is one he created.

  15. Voters Don't Count
    Aug 27, 2007, 12:03 pm

    Just another example of our city leaders (and county) who want growth at all (any) cost. That is what happens when you are in pockets of the developers – or maybe visa versa?

  16. Voters Don't Count
    Aug 27, 2007, 12:03 pm

    Just another example of our city leaders (and county) who want growth at all (any) cost. That is what happens when you are in pockets of the developers – or maybe visa versa?

  17. Clippityclop
    Aug 27, 2007, 12:17 pm

    Once again, read the Hidden Springs survey comments. And, many longtime Hidden Springs residents will recall a town meeting with Frank Martin wherein he stated that the developer had no plans to proceed with Phase 8, largely because the hillside was too unstable, and that the plans were for it to remain as natural open space.

    As for the “added” farmland you refer to? Hidden Springs actually reduced this. The original “planned community” envisioned ten-acre farm parcels and no ridge-scalping. Those have all been subdivided away in various changes to the original plan. Frankly, the original purchasers at Hidden Springs got a lot less than they bargained for and less and less as time goes on. Ain’t greed and all too easily modified “master planned communities” grand? That development is now a giant subdivision with no real diversity, economic or otherwise.

    This foolishness must stop. We’re a caring and motivated public. We’ve written, faxed, petitioned and testified before just about every governing agency we can think of. What do you suggest we do next? I would love to hear your action plan for meaningful change.

    I completely agree with you.

  18. The “farmland” set aside at Hidden (agenda) Springs is a complete joke and nothing more than a marketing scheme, as is their supposed protection of the wetlands and other natural areas.

    Check out the “orchard” just south of the main entrance. The trees were planted without removing the wire cages around the root balls, some are even planted in the ground in pots! The trees have no future and will never feed more than the birds and worms (not all bad) but the orchard sure looks cute on the brochures and sales materials.

    If the new development was approved within the original plan, then the blame for lack of foresight lies with the approval agencies. That Hidden Springs continues to be held up as an example of sensitive development is a sham that should be placed at the feet of, again, enforcement agencies, and in part on our local “news” media for never following trough on stories unless someone else (like our esteemed editor) holds their delicate feet to the fire.

    And finally, again as CG pointed out, we the people are too wrapped up in our personal dramas to have the time or energy to act alone in an effective political way.

    A developer may have the legal authority to destroy unique habitat for profit, WV, but that doesn’t make it right, or even smart. But most individuals feel too impotent to fight the tremendous forces of power and money behind these projects. We have not learned to adequately value the natural resources in our own back yards, or to find the inspiration and resolve to act.

    Funny thing, all the beautiful foothills, productive farmland, and rich river bottom land that is being turned under for residential development will be indistinguishable from similar developments on former landfills, all with lovely sounding names reminiscent of what was lost to create a subdivision with fake lakes and fountains, and maybe even some cacti imported from Texas. But as long as we buy, someone will be willing to sell. As long as no neighborhood (rather than commerce and development) oriented person or group is ready and able to tackle this issue in a comprehensive way, there will be more of the same.

    Elections are near. Any nominations?

  19. It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which people want to control other peoples property. If you want open spaces preserved donate your every available dollar to organizations that preserve natural area.

    The only thing special about these foothills above Boise is their proximity to the urban area that is Boise\Meridian\Eagle. The Hidden Springs area is no different than the hundreds of thousands of foothills areas that run along the Snake River Plain. Several here have said how much they liked to walk the trails, so? Just because you like to do something doesn’t mean you have the everlasting right to do so.

    Another person mentioned they love to mountain bike in the area. I’m sure I would have no trouble finding someone that thinks those two groups should be roped and drug for daring to gouge trails into these pristine hills.

    I’m glad you work to preserve natural areas, they’re important, but spare me the diatribe regarding the evil property owner daring to develop THEIR land. You live here and at one time your place of residence was covered with beautiful native grasses and plants…where are they now? Why are these new residences more evil than yours? Is it because they’re…GASP…WEALTHY!!!! Or is it just that you’re annoyed because a place, owned by others, that you used to enjoy using at no cost, is going away?

    Like I said, put your pennies where your mouth is and encourage others to do so also…without the preachy nature of your argument.

  20. CG – great suggestions all, and things that can be potentially implemented in a relatively short period of time. But, it seems to me that there needs to be some level of organization to make the most of our resources and allow for expanded participation. I have certainly attended plenty of meetings but am not always able due to work or family commitments to make every single one or to do all the research and follow-up that can make a big difference in testimony (not to mention understanding the issue in the first place).

    We need a non-partisan (not bi-partisan) method of organizing action and disseminating information that is broadly targeted and brings the community together to see ALL of these land use issues as our common responsibility, whether it’s our favorite trail or not. Seems like pitting one group against another is a great way to dissipate energy and demoralize community organizers (and seems to be a favorite tactic of some of the above mentioned entities).

    I think a tag team of “meeting goers” (watchdogs) would help keep folks in the loop and take some of the pressure off of those who are unable to attend a meeting (or more) every day. Folks could participate in some training on how and when to testify, meeting protocol etc. Seems to me like even a relatively small group of committed people could help bridge the information gap between P&Z and the like, and the general public. Perhaps this would also help give a heads up on potential problems before they’ve already moved through the system.

    I LOVE your comments about Tillman and his political history which is exactly the kind of attention and oversight that is lacking in our community memories and in the media. Mmmmm,yummmy, more please.

    I completely agree that folks need to get busy (and I know there are a lot of people out there who do care, are passionate and translate that into action that are already busy) and DEMAND change. But I also believe our voices must be united and our value of the common, long term good must trump our other political and social differences. One or two citizens at a hearing are easily overlooked, but a pack of determined activists could be another story.

    So, any interest out there in a moderated town hall style meeting to begin to get the ball rolling? I can think of several people who would be effective and fair moderators, and methods of process that can allow lots of people to speak and to process and develop the resulting information. I propose a citizen’s based agenda, elected officials invited….to listen only. They have plenty of free air time to promote their agenda.Perhaps this could be one way to coordinate current campaigns (STP for one) and to bring the issue into a broader perspective than just residential development. We can use the information from the meeting to determine priorities and develop strategies for meaningful ACTION.

    Please don’t get me wrong here, I hate meetings. I also hate cleaning the toilet and grocery shopping, but life’s a lot more enjoyable if those unpleasant tasks are done. This is also not to duplicate existing groups, but to facilitate a citizens movement to address development in our community NOW.

    Or maybe we could just stand on State Street and wee into the wind.

  21. The innocuously appearing melanoma on Idaho’s delicate skin of a “little” subdivision here, a strip mall there, an unregulated feedlot or dairy, a loosely regulated toxic waste dump, or a high tech user of industrial poisons started during the sixties and seventies. These malignant but seemingly non-threatening lesions were fomented with tax incentives, lax (compared to the left coast) environmental regulations and “whatever you wanna do” zoning changes.

    Every carpet bagging opportunist in the U.S., and more than a few real foreigners, watched the beginning and largely uncontested rape of what was Idaho. The politicians of that era were largely naïve and many of the ones who weren’t truly idealistic innocents were bribed with flowery lies or just flat out bought and paid for.

    Largely through our own apathy, a significant portion of the latest gang of appointed and elected decision makers don’t have to be wined, dined, bribed or bought. They ARE the enemy. They achieve their payola directly from their own Limited Liability Corporations.

    That early melanoma has taken root. It has “progressed” and “developed” into a rabid and all consuming lymphoma with its insidious tendrils throughout every part of Idaho. They (it) care(s) nothing about anything except propagation of more growth and more huge profits at the expense of real Idahoans.

    Idaho is, and has been, terminal since the first “developer” was not lynched years ago. The transplants and others of those who make their living from growth can continue to welcome each other to the befouled carcass of what was once a great place to live. The hand signal they ALL get from me is NOT a friendly sign of welcome. Somehow Californian palm trees seem an appropriate funerary tree for that huge subdivision over by the Ada County Dump. . .

  22. Thank you Old Blue for at least one common sense reaction to all this.
    CG, you amaze me! “Demand” the cities, “Demand” the County, “Force” the county… You sure you don’t work for team Dave?

    Sounds to me like you think everyone else’s property is your’s by birth right! I wonder what your reaction would be when the County leaders came to YOUR home and decided to take it from you for the continuation of the “trail” system that “they” decided was best for Boise. If ya’ll think the foothills are so important, there is a reeal simple solution.

    BUY IT!! Then you can do with it as you please! But please don’t tell me that I should buy it for you!!!

  23. Clippityclop
    Aug 28, 2007, 10:16 am

    Cyclops and Old Blue,
    The hillside that Hidden Springs is heavily grading is remarkably unstable. In fact, the developer demonstrated that last summer when he graded aggressively just below it and caused the road to fracture and slip. This closed the road for months at the height of wildfire season, not to mention that other rural residents were exposed to delayed EMS response times and a hell of a lot of inconvenience. Private property rights are one thing, but they do not supercede public safety and welfare… reference: The Idaho Land Use Planning Act and, actually, the Constitution. That’s kind of “common sense,” don’t you think?

  24. OK Cyclops, then I also choose not to buy YOUR roads (I bike), your schools (no kids), your prisons and police, your HP, Micron or any other tax boondoggle that takes money from my pocket to the likes of those like Steve Appleton. I choose not to pay for the pollution spewed into our air and water because folks like you hold profit and property over any other value. You can’t seem to see value in anything beyond the end of your nose (maybe it’s the one eye thing)

    Thank goodness for the foresight and community minded spirit of so many others that see the value of working together for the common good, and even for those that are not yet here to buy their birthright, yes birthright, to sunshine, clean air and water, and maybe even a spot of earth that is not paved or artificially landscaped.

    Citizens have every right to DEMAND action from OUR government. Government is the servant of the people, not the other way around.

    If I had the opportunity to contribute some of my property, (those landowners involved in the Foothills Levy acquisitions have been handsomely compensated)I would be proud to participate, if I felt that the project would benefit the community in the long term. It would be the same motivation that prompted me to give to charities, volunteer with community groups, serve in the military and other acts that may cost me a bit of time and money but hopefully serve the greater good, which does not end at the end of my nose or my property line.

    Millions of other taxpayers support the services and infrastructure that Cyclops and others seem take for granted. I know you won’t say thank you, but you’re welcome anyway.

    Open your eye Cy, no man is an island.

  25. Absolutely Clippityclop!
    I am not even remotely advocating the “Katie Bar The Door” attitude toward development that we have assumed in the past. The problem we are in now is due to the unbridled development at any cost approval system we have in place. If a developer deviates from the original plan by one spade full of dirt, or it is found that the public safety and welfare is being compromised, then that developer should be held totally responsible.

    Personally, I believe the best way to insure that we remain protected is to require that any development that is proposed comes with it, a bond that is large enough to cover ANY problem that the developer might incur during the process. In my opinion, the biggest mistake we have made is to allow our elected officials to “forgive or ignore” deviation from development approvals. The park center bridge problem as well as carving into a hillside next to Hidden Hollow would have not been problems if the developer knew going in that we would just take the bond if they failed to perform.

    My problem with the posts on this topic is the perceived “ownership” by the public because we have been able to enjoy it in the past. We don’t have that right! But we do have the responsibility to insure that any private property use does not take precedent over the safety and welfare of the community.

  26. Idagreen, take a minute, re-read your statement and decide if that’s what you really mean. If so, you should share whatever you are smoking with the group!!

    Rather than live in your “pollyanna” world of “wow man! wouldn’t it be cool if” I choose to live in a real world and deal with real problems! You are not going to “wish” these problems away no matter how hard you try. If you choose not to participate, then I wish you well in your soon to be hermit’s lifestyle on a 20′ by 20′ piece of ground at the top of Roby Creek because, by your own choice, you obviously don’t want to buy food, or clothing, or electricity, natural gas, or participate in any level of entertainment here in OUR horrible city of Boise! So good luck Idagreen, and by the way, I think you will need a permit from the Forest service to cut down all those trees up there you will need to keep your sorry butt warm! Sorry!

  27. Ummm, who’s the hermit Cy? Try again. You must have read a different post if you think I live in isolation. I simply believe that there are some things that transcend the bottom line, money talks, everything else walks mentality exemplified by:

    “If ya’ll think the foothills are so important, there is a reeal simple solution.

    BUY IT!! Then you can do with it as you please! But please don’t tell me that I should buy it for you!!!”

    I’m just saying, by your rationale, I shouldn’t have to pay for your pet projects either. I know it would make you feel more comfortable to assume that anyone with idealistic values is “smoking something”, but I’ll have to disappoint you this time. But hey, that’s a good example. I don’t believe that using marijuana should be a crime, yet my tax dollars pay, as do yours, to keep millions of otherwise law abiding folks in the pokey at a cost of who knows how many millions. This serves no productive purpose, but I am still forced to pay for that. Where are your crocodile tears for the loss of my private property (wages) that is coerced from me to support this nonsense.

    I buy stuff for you and others members of my community all the time, directly and indirectly (taxes, fees, donations). You only seem to acknowledge the connections when you perceive that you are footing the bill, but somehow not when you’re the beneficiary. We’re all connected, whether you like it or not, and no amount of survey lines or fences will really change that in the long run.

    I’m sure you’d like to see me move elsewhere, but my family and I will stay happily here in Boise and continue to do what we can to make this town we love an even better place for all of us. See, not everything is for sale, even in Idaho.

  28. curious george
    Aug 28, 2007, 4:19 pm


    Since there wasn’t anything in my post about the use of eminent domain or takings – I can only suspect that it’s an issue that Cyclops is willing to insert into just about any subject.

    Really, most of us are a little too old to fall for this “FEAR BIG GOVERNMENT!!” red herring.

    I was asked to provide ideas on how to improve the deliberations for future entitlement processes – not about how to take away existing entitlements. Although some may lament the construction of Hidden Springs’ last phase – it was approved because it was consistent with the original entitling ordinance. It has just taken some by surprise, and I offered a few ways to keep such “surprises” from happening in the future.

    Increasing the P&Z Commission’s enrollment and demographic representation (and increasing its authority) is ONE way of improving the process. And, showing up at a public hearing, or meeting, to voice an opinion (lather, rinse, repeat) doesn’t undo the democratic process – it REINFORCES it.

    There are many things in this world that belong solely to oneself, but property isn’t one of them. The protection of ownership rights to property are “given” by government – they are not vested in an individual as an indivisible right (it is neither Life, Liberty, or the pursuit of Happiness – I feel sorry for you if you think it is). And since we rely on government to protect our ownership of property, we “give” government the authority to tell us what we can (and can’t) do with our property. We further require that government follow due process to ensure a fair and timely consideration of such requests.

    When a property owner asks his/her governmental regulatory authority to change the use of their land – the government reserves the right to deny, or approve with conditions, this change of use (subject to the laws of the land).

    The best way to improve this change-of-use process is to make sure the decision makers are as fair & consistent as possible – and that the decision makers are as representative of the community as possible. Another way to improve the process is to clarify the regulatory language (comp plans and zoning ordinances) to make sure that what does get built is both the highest & best use of the land and consistent with the community’s expectation.

    The worst way to handle such issues is to isolate the process from the concerns of the “real” world by limiting the decision making group to a “kingly” triumverant – and by limiting oneself to meaningful intervention by playing hands-off until you step into the voting booth.

    Really, the concept of a secular “Mine & Thine” (Meum et Tuum) is central to modern civilization, and a core American precept.

  29. George, you and Idagreen are absolutely right! No one owns their property, and it takes a village to raise children!! Just a couple of quick questions if you don’t mind.
    Where are the mandatory sign-ups for the collective where we will all be working? How soon do you suggest that we get in line for our rations from the government?
    Who do we turn our cars into because we won’t be allowed to drive them anymore? (Or are we to just let them rust in our front yards?)
    You people are absolutely, totally, completely INSANE!!! You obviously won’t be content until someone from “the party” tells you where to go, what to do, for how long.
    By the way, How is that working for you so far???
    I would invite you both to “mosey” up to one of these old time farmers in the valley and let them know that they don’t “own” their property. A word of caution however. The business end of a shotgun ain’t very pretty. Good luck!

  30. Radek of Boktor
    Aug 28, 2007, 10:28 pm

    ownership of property does NOT confer the rights to do whatever you please with it. Nor should it. For example, ask any current resident of Hidden Springs what would happen if they parked their collection of rusty 1973 El Caminos on blocks in their front lawn, then didnt mow their front lawn for two months.

    The fact is, what we do with our land does have an impact on others in the community. Those up in arms about private property rights are missing the point; this isnt about one homeowner applying for a permit to build a room over their garage or something. This is one person’s actions negatively affecting a whole community. And most of these developers are corporations, NOT individuals, so in a sense, it is NOT about heavy-handed government restricting individual freedom, or taking property. Its about a greedy individual and/or corporation overstepping their bounds, and violating a spoken promise to the community.

    There is a saying: Just because you have the “right” to do something, doesnt mean its the right thing to do.

  31. Radek, the last line of your post is the single most enlightening comment in this entire series.
    Thank you.

  32. ClippityClop-

    Absolutely right and I stand behind you on this but that was not the authors tack. If he had written an article complaining that there were public safety issues and there were violating promises made when they got they’re original approval then I’d be 100% in support of it. Instead the author mentioned those type of concerns in passing and complained about losing his hiking trails and the loss of buried (fossils?) fresh water mollusks. He also mentions a couple of million cubic yards of excavation as no exaggeration. That’s enough to cover 1 square mile 2 feet deep! There was a good article in there somewhere, unfortunately the author chose to pen it as a wide eyed radical instead of a concerned citizen helping to bring something in need of attention to the masses.

  33. what if I wanted to do a few little projects with my property… and lets just say (for fun) that I live next door to you. Humor me. I want to turn my property into a:
    strip club
    half way house
    drug rehab
    homeless shelter
    pig farm
    bee farm
    paper mill
    opera house
    teen hangout
    skateboard park
    dog park
    cow field
    a 7-11
    a migrant worker trailer park
    a walmart
    a junk yard

    You’d be open minded then, huh? Let the property owners do what they want huh?

  34. curious george
    Aug 30, 2007, 10:30 am

    “Ah my cyloptic friend…”

    My Columbo cutie
    Popeye punkin’

    Sammy Davis
    Sandy Duncun

    You’re the One Eye
    One I love…

    I did not mean to offend your delicate sensibilities, sorry if I did. When I write the word “government”, in reference to American government, I mean a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That is, it’s you, me, and the farmer with the shotgun. This same farmer who would want to shoot us if we, as “government”, told him that he couldn’t use his farm as a nuclear waste depository – or as a residential subdivision, if it wasn’t permitted by land use law.

    The farmer still “owns” his farm (or maybe the bank does if it’s under a mortgage), but we (as “government”) are not only obligated to defend his title to his farm – we are also obligated to protect the rights of other property owners who might be harmed by the farmer’s actions if he wants to do something with his property that isn’t permitted.

    And, who decides what’s permitted? We do – acting as “government”.

    None of this bothers me, nor should it you. But, if our elected (or appointed) representatives actually represent a too narrow constiuency, then we should all be concerned. I don’t want to live in a community ruled by elite special interest groups (be they the Natural Law Party, Green Party, GOP, DNC, Realtors Association, or the North End Neighborhood Association) – even if I might agree with them on a few issues.

    Personally, I think letting a relatively small group of appointed P&Z Commissioners decide (or make a recommendation) on a development that might have a county-wide impact is ill advised – especially when Idaho law foresees such a circumstance in high-population centers and permits a larger commission. Idaho law even lets cities and counties join their P&Z Commissions so that everyone’s interests get represented in a “fair and balanced” (love that phrase) deliberation.

    “All I’m asking for is man-eating sharks, with frikkin’ laser beams attached to their heads!”
    – Dr. Evil

  35. CG, Now your making sense! I don’t believe any one truly wants to live under such conditions. When the elite few start telling the masses what to do, and get away with it, it is usually followed by armed revolt. I am certainly not advocating such, although with much more lack of response and sensible performance by our city and county officials, you must admit the thought has a certain “ring” to it. What we really seem to have here in Boise, is a shortage of lions. CG, you and I will most certainly agree that we have at least one thing in common, (probably a lot more than you know) on the first Tuesday in November we will both punch those chads to hopefully bring about better leadership.

    Oh, and Ray, those all are fine with me. There are only three that would cause me to move elsewhere. (maybe I could get a “neighbor” discount for the strip club)

  36. What happened to comprehensive plans that did have sections devoted to hillside grading, restrictions on steep slopes, prohibitions against hilltopping and other hillside sections that led to at least some hillside ordinances.

    I know that making this a so-called “new town” or some such sham released Hidden Springs from any of Boise’s rules and regs for subdivisions. But at one time, the county had at least token hillside construction rules.

    The last few years have seen a constant repudiation of what this development was supposed to have been. Housing has been put into designated open space (did anyone have to go back for permission to change that?); there are few design differences among new houses; there is no attempt to coordinate with previous designs; and they are building in gulches, which sounds just a might dangerous to me.

  37. John Mitchell
    Aug 31, 2007, 9:07 am

    Comp plans are a joke—Eagle is a prime example of how annual modification of it’s comp plan can adapt to developer’s “wants”. I think the real cancer is the unending thirst for more tax revenues. eg. “let’s see, if we leave this as ag land we get $150/year for 1000 acres—BUT if we put houses on it we get $2000/yr per house”…….hmmmm. Government isn’t part of the problem; it IS the problem. Bureaucrats come in a VERY close second. I think they call this a Monopoly Mentality.

  38. Comment about the foothills of Boise and the Hidden Springs development. The foothills of Boise are nothing like they were over 100 years ago, when most of the land was devastated by extreme overgrazing, logging, mining, burning, etc., until there was almost nothing left. Check photos out in the Historical Society of this time period. Every alien species of plants were brought in to grace yards and planted for firewood, etc. There is nothing pristine about the foothills, although I wish would have been alive to see what the area looked like prior to the goldrush and assuing migration and population of the area.

    Hidden Springs is just another development with very little thought for the climate, plants, animals or anything else that this area has to offer. You could find it and similar homes in Boston, Seattle or Dallas. And this is a desert?

  39. Lester_Atlas
    May 20, 2008, 8:19 am

    This is a high mountain desert! What harm comes from moving some dirt around to create an actually useful oasis. Your words are telling though. You rant about the “wealthy” so much that I wonder if you are more concerned about more successful people moving in on you, than you are about the sagebrush. While Boise has changed over the years, you can still drive 5 minutes and be in the middle of no where. Stop whining, and start living.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: