City Government

Mayor Funds Lobby, Still No Signs

The GUARDIAN editor thought nothing could make the cramped seating on last week’s United Airlines flight more painful until he looked at the seat back magazine with pictures of Team Dave’s leader Dave Bieter and the sights of the city.

Our taxes were used–in part–to pay the estimated $700,000 to publish the puff piece which was orchestrated by the local Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber will get a $30,000 payback when Team Dave performs his annual “live aid state of the city speech” for businessmen Thursday.

Last year when the Daily Paper dared accurately report the downside of the mayor’s “accomplishments,” editors and staff got nasty calls from Team Dave. Look for a more tempered story this year, probably with less prominent display.

Team Dave, the Chamber nor anyone else has acted on a year old GUARDIAN idea that needs some immediate attention–tourist related signs. We have included samples from Cleveland and Columbus.
There are just a few official highway directional signs aiming motorists to key points like the airport, but nothing telling them they are headed the right direction along the way.

It makes no sense to spend more than half a million dollars to attract people to the city, but leave them to roam aimlessly around with no signs to guide them. Says a lot for the mentality of those who strive to attract visitors.

We need signs throughout the city at every major intersection to make our City of Trees “user friendly.”

The Visitors Bureau is the logical agency to occupy the Depot and keep it open, provide decent signs around the city and generally promote the travel industry–without building a convention center. Better to invest the money from Team Dave’s Chamber gig in signs instead of for the special interest lobbying efforts of business.
Columbus sign.jpg

Visitors and residents alike would benefit from signs directing motorists to attractions like the Historical Museum, Art Gallery, Zoo, Old Pen and Botanical Gardens, Golf Courses, The Depot, The Grove and Qwest Arena, Fairgrounds, Airport, Birds of Prey Center, Fish & Game M-K Nature Center, Lucky Peak, Hyde Park, BSU, Capitol Building,Table Rock (more on that later) and the list goes on.

With intermittent streets, the natural obstacles of the bench and the river, Boise is a tough place to navigate if you are a stranger. Good signs would go a long way toward stress reduction and increased visitor satisfaction.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Boise Banker
    Sep 25, 2007, 8:31 am

    I agree that we need to lead our visitors and tourists far better than we do. $50k in new signage could really aid in helping tourism in the Treasure Valley and also in the mountains and recreational areas just outside of our city limits.

    One thing I would mention that the article did not pick up on was that the $700k used to promote the Boise area was aimed at businesses as opposed to individuals. The ads are designed to entice businesses to look at the Treasure Valley for future expansion or relocation. The Boise Valley Economic Partnership (BVEP) is the one who created the ads. They are using them in conjunction with other B2B campaigns to attract new businesses into the area.

    I may not always agree about the approach but I do agree with the end target BVEP has here, job diversity. BVEP is looking to bring in new mid-high level paying jobs to help diversify away from making computer chips or printers. This area needs something other than the computer or construction industry to keep it afloat. We are already loosing on the construction end and have already lost in the computer end. These changes are needing to be made and I am glad to see that some kind of proactive solutions are being made. Even if the ways and means are slightly flawed or inefficient.

    You may be able to make a few loans that aren’t sub prime, but you will never be able to afford your own home if we continue senseless growth.

  2. G-Man you keep whipping this poor dead horse. No way will Team Dave or any other mayor do the right thing and give a state of the city speech at a council meeting.

    They should at least give the proceeds to the Food Bank, Homeless Shelter, Drug Rehab, or even your damn signs. Would he dare hold the gig before the ACLU, AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, or the Vista Neighborhood Association? No way, state of the city is PRO business all the way.

  3. curious george
    Sep 25, 2007, 10:51 am

    I’m not a big fan of “trickle down economics” either, but asking a mayor to not trumpet the benefits of his/her community is like asking a three year old to not gleefully point to her Easter Basket full of new found eggs.

    I understand the Guardian’s concern about who has to pay the piper, I suspect that it is (and always has been) the town citizens. Such expense has been justified in the past by citing the demonstrable long term benefits of a stable economy. To complete the metaphore – it’s good for the kids (but I know $700K would be better spent in our local schools).

    I like the idea of increasing wayfinding signage, especially if it allows us to capitalize on tourism dollars. I would suggest one additional criteria – make sure the signage is also pedestrian-oriented. There’s nothing more frustrating to the bike & foot traveling public than street signs & directions that cater only to vehicles.

    Walk downtown these days, many of the street signs on our lovely one-way street grid are only directed to vehicles. Compared to communities that truly understand the economic benefits of making the streetscape pedestrian oriented – ours is truly impoverished. I’ve been to communities where everything from manhole covers to building corners and street curb corners are festooned with tasteful and legible wayfinding signage (not to mention wonderful kiosks, and lamppost signs).

    This is an obscure website address, but it’s my favorite highway sign image.

    EDITOR NOTE–This one comes from Hawaii and made me think of the ACHD.

  4. Exactly how many of my tax dollars were used? I want the city held accountable for this total waste of the property tax dollars they get from us.

    I would also like the know the exact name of the person who authorized the expendature and who they report to.

  5. I like the idea of more signage for tourists, uh, no, I’m lying. I don’t like it at all. Signs are a form of visual clutter. Warning, slippery slope argument following, how many intersections will have the signs? How many locations will be presented on each? Who determines, who decides? What if somebody cries, “I need a sign pointing people to my place.” I can see an entire sign-industrial-complex developing.

    I believe a better use of the money would be a traveler’s kiosk at City Hall and/or the new Library employing people who truly know their way around the city and the region.

    A well designed “tourist” map, available for free at locations such as the Grove, Discovery Center, Hotels etc. would help also.

    One place that does need a better sign is the 3rd and Myrtle entrance to Julia Davis Park. The current sign is what, 12 x 12, that’s inches, not feet, and hidden by a tree to boot. A motorist on Myrtle who misses that entrance will need to change lanes 4 times to make a left on Broadway, left on Front, left on 6th, left on Myrtle, cross 4 lanes, you get the picture, or go all the way around BSU.

    There was once a proposal to change the name of Myrtle St to Park Blvd, perhaps it’s time to revisit that idea.

  6. Boise Banker
    Sep 26, 2007, 10:06 am

    “Tax Payer”

    Where would you like to see your tax dollars go if not to bring in new mid-high paying, educated jobs?

    Micron won’t always be here. They can’t and still be profitable. Who is going to take up those 10,000 jobs? This area needs some diversity in its employment. We haven’t even seen how much the leveling out in the construction industry is going to affect the valley. 2008 will be a very telling year. It will show us that we too are vulnerable to industry downturns.

    I personally think $700k isn’t all that large of a price tag to keep businesses in the area and to attract new ones to move here. Besides it costs $5000 for a Chamber of Commerce member to join BVEP. That alone is about 20% of the $700k cost.

    That $700k has already helped to convince Microsoft to not shut down its 100 employee operation in downtown Boise. In fact Microsoft plans on increasing the total jobs here in Boise to just over 200 within the next 12-18 months. These are the kind of jobs that require college degrees and pay at or above the median income level for the area ($50k+ per year).

    The property taxes alone would cover about 25% of the $700k if even just 80% of these new jobs holders buy and have a home in the area.

    We are now up to 45% of the costs being offset by the cost of membership and BVEP’s impact.

    The remaining $385,000 for 2007 after it is split among the more than 600,000 residents in the Treasure Valley actually totals about 64 cents per person per year. If you can think of a better use for the whopping 2 quarters, dime and 4 pennies it is costing each year please be sure to tell your Mayoral candidates. I am sure they could appropriate those funds to make 3 color photo copies instead of investing in the long-term future of Idaho and the Treasure Valley.

    Its money well spent for long term solutions.

    To the editor:
    I am not promoting senseless growth. I think you know my viewpoints better than that.  This area DOES, however need more higher paying jobs to help offset the ridiculous rises in housing prices though. Not to mention diversifying industry concentration risk.

    This type of growth isn’t in the housing sector but in actual jobs for people, educated people. This will bring real flesh and blood people into the area and not investors who still stay in their state and keep all of their gains and profits from coming into Idaho coffers. It allows all of that education spending to stay within the state and local areas, and helps stabilize the long-term economic out look in the Treasure Valley.

    There are only two things a city and its economy can do: grow or die. Bringing good, high paying businesses into the area diversifies specific industry risks and will allow absorption of losses in other areas. This is manageable growth that ACTUALLY pays for itself. What a novel concept huh?! It is amazing how many politicians and developers say that what they do pays for itself and either it never happens or it takes 15 years to do it. Bringing in good jobs that raise the average wage level actually does this.

  7. Wow, Boise Banker said it very well. I agree completely.

  8. Maybe the city could afford a sign that says “no wildlife shooting with handguns within City Limits”. Our traffic would be a lot less snarled if signage to key points were better displayed.

  9. I don’t think we need signs all over the place. C’mon, this is the age of Google Maps. What person drives around aimlessly looking for the zoo? Put nice signs in good spots to point out city landmarks like the zoo, depot, City Hall, etc. That’s it. Also, the Boise Visitor’s Center needs to move near a hotel… any hotel. Having it near Papa Murphy’s Pizza and the A-1 Bicycle shop is not really effective.

    EDITOR NOTE–Jason, how about The Depot for the Visitor Center?

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