City Government

GUARDIAN On City Land Speculation

The GUARDIAN talked to Eyewitness 2 News a couple weeks ago about Boise City’s land speculation deals. To be fair, most of these parcels were acquired by previous administrations, but Team Dave can’t seem to let go.

Reporter Vanessa Brown did the story for sweeps week–we probably didn’t help their ratings much–but the piece does bring to light the fact the city owns hundreds of acres of land that is off the tax rolls and does not currently serve a public purpose.

Here is the link to the story about CITY LAND SPECULATION. Click on the video icon beneath the photo and Brown’s name to see the taped report.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Pretty good story. I especially liked the title: “Lots of Indecision”

    But I’m a sucker for a pun.

  2. This gets my goat. What about the Goodman Oil Property?

    I did some ciphering and found that the Goodman Oil Property pays about 30% less property taxes per square foot per year than I do on my property. It works out to 11 cents per year per sq ft as opposed to my 16 cents per year per sq ft. Bear in mind that the Goodman property is zoned C2 and has river frontage, I’m only zoned R2 and have no river frontage.

    Why should I subsidize that junk yard? A junk yard that’s less than a mile from downtown Boise.

    Have you all read the 30th Street Master Plan? Frankly, I believe the City should exercise eminent domain to acquire the Goodman Oil property and add it to the arsenal of future well planned development. In a nut shell, the master plan for the west end is to develop large tracts such as the old Roundtree Chevrolet site and the Bob Rice Ford site into mixed use developments.

    Much like the outlandish greenbelt idea in the 60s, the master plan for the west end will yield much higher property taxes in the long run if the plan is followed. This is a long term goal.

    I begging you all to look to the long term. Please don’t try to step over dollars to pick up dimes.

    EDITOR NOTE–Boisecynic, I could buy into it if you were correct, but Team Dave wants to put it all into a CCDC-type tax increment financing district. That means the improvements and appreciated value will yield NO TAX REVENUES to the city, county, or school. It will all go toward “infrastructure” in the district. Meanwhile all of us
    have to pay for police, fire, etc. for the district–just like we do for all the downtown businesses and expensive condos. Change the tax plan and I will jump aboard.

  3. sam the sham
    May 9, 2008, 11:36 pm

    Are you certain that, in due time, when no one is really looking, that the land won’t be sold (for a great loss) to a “good old boy”. a friend, someone who will “help” with a “better” land swap?
    Wow that river front sure would make a nice development – kind of a deal?
    nooooooo that wouldn’t happen here!!!

  4. Editor, you are correct in principle. Yes, we are subsidizing urban renewal, but I personally believe it to be a worthy endeavor. So, really, what’s wrong with urban renewal districts?— as long as there’s a mandatory sunset, say 30 years. Guardian editor conveniently leaves out the possibility of mandatory sunsetting of renewal districts.

    Looking at the bottom line do we really pay that much? How much is directly attributable to the 3 URDs? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that figure, but I imagine it’s a small percentage. Besides, what would be the proper amount to pay for property taxes? $0 a year? $10 a year?

    I refer to the greenbelt again. Greenbelt land is off the tax rolls although it could still be on had Bill Onweiler and the gang not pursued the greenbelt in the 60s and 70s.

    Many of the properties along the river back then were like Goodman Oil. Many, no, all of the new developments are of a higher and better use and consequently pay more property tax than the Goodmans. Note: Most of the new development along the greenbelt is not in any URD.

    Had we never had downtown URDs would the periphery properties like mine be contributing as much tax revenue as they are now, notwithstanding the uncalculated amount directly attributable to URD subsidy?

    As a businessman, surely you realize that future revenue is dependent on investment today.

    EDITOR NOTE–If you are talking about EXPANDING urban renewal or creating new districts, it is hardly a “sunset.” As we have said previously, if a business can’t pay its fair share and obey the rules set forth for everyone else, they need to find another place. Micron is a great example of a non-profit business in our community that simply doesn’t pay its way…all their employees pay taxes, but they also consume services.

  5. Since we own property in the area of 30th & Main, I find it really irritating that the whole of what used to be businesses are just dirt lots, and, like you say, creating no property tax for the county. Maybe, instead of getting that useless agency CCDC involved they could sell the property to individuals for commercial use, as in apartments, restaurants, shops, etc.

    When, by the way, is that hospital which is locating where Thriftway Lumber used to be ever going to get built?

    The Fairview/Main street corridors used to get lots of traffic before the connector was built – it is almost a ghost town there now. Guess that would be discouraging to anyone wanting to build retail stores there.

  6. TJ:

    The permitting process for the hospital at 27th and Fairview has taken a long time but it appears it’s moving along. It’s very hard to say if it really will get built. I did see substantial sewer line work being done on 25th St off of Fairview last week. That sewer line work was by the City of Boise by the way. I haven’t been able to find out who paid for it. You can check for yourself at this link:

    I have argued the demise of the Fairview/Main corridor was a direct result of the construction of the Broadway/Chinden Connector. Since the government agencies were directly responsible for the reduction in traffic on Fairview/Main then gov’t agencies are responsible for planning renewal there.

    I cannot think of any solution other than an Urban Renewal District. The boiseguardian is very much against them and spells out very good reasons. However, the problem remains, the land around 30th and Main is vastly underutilized and not contributing what it could/should to the property tax coffers, and the guardian editor offers no solutions.

    The free market isn’t doing much so far. Since Idaho is a private property mecca, development will simply follow the path of least resistance, i.e., Meridian, Kuna, Eagle, Star, rural Ada County, where land and taxes are cheap(er). This leap frog development is also frequently bemoaned on this forum. It’s sort of a cake and eat it too problem.

    Perhaps, if there is to be no new URD for 30th/Main–Fairview/Main then at least the guardian would support ACHD’s construction of the long planned (40 years) 30th Street Extension and the construction of the River Recreation Park and the Esther Simplot Park. These amenities hopefully will spur development in the area without the need for a new URD. Much like the greenbelt and Parkcenter Blvd did in the past.

    EDITOR NOTE– Cynic is correct. Government cured the traffic mess on Fairview/Main and now they seem to want to increase it once again.

    We admittedly do NOT have answers for development. However, concessions and variances to zoning are fine as long as the rest of us don’t foot the bill. Truth be told, the city has been obsessed with the core downtown–which was also demolished by government actions. There has to be a message in all that.

  7. I just wish we’d get our property tax bills BEFORE the primary. I think that could go a long way to crystalize people’s decisions on whom to vote for or more likely against.

    I know, I know, not really on topic but kind of.

  8. I never noticed any bad traffic on Main/Fairvew back in the 80’s.

    Also, I have my tax bills – I am paying $1900/year on a tiny 50×110 property with a tiny 90 year old house on it. Disgusting.

    Thank you cynic for your explanation. I just get irritated with CCDC and its predicessor, BRA, because it just seems like one more layer of (quasi )government that we have to support.

  9. Curious Pete
    May 11, 2008, 7:28 pm

    I have never quite understood the relationship of City Planning, Ada County, and CCDC. Can anyone direct me to where I can better educate myself in these entities and how they work? I love this website, and I find the issues discussed very interesting but I’m a little hazy on the bureacracy of the city. Thanks

    EDITOR NOTE–Pete here is a short course.
    –Boise City runs everything within the city limits and collects property taxes within the city limits.
    –Ada County collects taxes from ALL residents regardless of where they live. However, they don’t offer much in the way of services to residents of cities…they do NOT offer police, fire, planning services, etc. The landfill and courts are operated on behalf of all county folks.
    –CCDC is the Boise urban renewal agency. Other cities have same thing under different name. IT is financed through “Tax Increment Financing” which means the taxes on all improvements and appreciation go to urban renewal and NOT to the city, county, highway district, or schools. GUARDIAN does not like the system which is nothing but a subsidy to big developers.

  10. Actually editor, the schools receive a portion of the increment taxes, I think it’s like 40%. It’s true that the other taxing agencies don’t get the “increment” or those taxes above the baseline established when the urban renewal district was put in place. The thinking was and is that the taxes generated as a result of development would go to pay for public improvements in the urban renewal district. When the district sunsets, those taxes then begin to flow back to the original taxing agencies.

    EDITOR NOTE–Sara, I believe when the legislature revised the sales tax law and moved the schools “Maintenance and Operation” to sales tax–or whatever the details are–the school portion of local taxes went to CCDC just like all the rest.

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