Kuna Sized Project On Hwy 55?

Two big players in local development decisions are showing signs of GROWTHOPHOBIA which could be good news for opponents of Dry Creek Ranch and Cartwright Ranch. Dry Creek Ranch is a massive “planned community” (subdivision) of 4,300 homes and townhouses.

This development, which expects a population about the size of Kuna, is slated for prime agricultural land in a foothills valley spanning State Highway 55 eastward nearly to Hidden Springs. Cartwright Ranch is a thinly disguised expansion of Hidden Springs–the planned community that isn’t.

COMPASS (Community Planning Association), in a May 27 letter to Ada County Development Services, cites a litany of traffic problems and flawed projections with these projects including

“…the traffic impact study for Dry Creek indicated the following needs:
• Additional signals on SH 55
• Widening of SH 55 to six (6) lanes south of Brookside Lane
• Grade separated intersections at Floating Feather Road by 2018, Beacon Light Road by 2021 and Brookside by 2024.”

“A recognition or inclusion of the other potential planned community development[s] may cause more traffic from the Dry Creek development to use Dry Creek Road and Seaman’s Gulch Road or Cartwright Road to Collister Road. This change to travel route may trigger a larger effect on Hill Road and other streets in Boise.”

“…the projected volume on SH 55 near Dry Creek Road is 83,700 vehicles per day – this is over 26,000 more vehicles per day [than] on Eagle Road south of Franklin Road; currently the highest traffic volume arterial in Ada County.”

“Currently, no funds have been budgeted for expanding SH 55, SH 55 (State Street) or US 20/26 (Chinden Boulevard).”

In addition, Team Dave at Boise City weighed in with a May 14th letter to the Ada County Commissioners claiming:

“The effect of the proposed developments on increasing congestion on State Street is unresolved.

“If Ada County desires to add a large volume of additional traffic from the Dry Creek Ranch and Cartwright Ranch planned communities to State Street, Boise City requests a full analysis of any changes needed to the State Street Corridor Study, the State Street Alignment Study, and the Valley Regional Transit Regional Operations and Capital Improvement Plan…”

“Since the planned community proposals would use capacity that was planned for other development within cities, how will future development in cities be affected by the loss of roadway capacity? What will be the added delay to commuters from Star and Eagle due to additional congestion on State Street?”

Avimor has already gotten around commitments for an overpass just two miles up Hwy 55. At the rate the GROWTHOPHILES are going it will be stop and go all the way to Horseshoe Bend where you have to crawl through town behind motorhomes.

The Ada County Commissioners have put off a decision on Cartwright Ranch until July 16th in order to give the developers time to resolve some issues. (The development which is a pet project of Frank Martin, himself a former Ada Planning & Zoning Commish.) Dry Creek Ranch is scheduled to go before the Ada County Commissioners on August 27.

There is an election for Ada Commishes in just a little more than four months. Will they make decision on these developments, or wait until after the November election to keep the developers happy and their cash flowing while dodging a controversy the voters might not like?

(Thanks to Joanne Pence, Secretary of DCRNA––for the above info. The complete letters are available from Ada County Development Services.)

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Mike Reineck
    Jun 30, 2008, 2:22 pm

    File under “I’ll scratch yours, if you scratch mine”: Former Ada County P&Z board member Frank Martin cast the alleged “winning vote” for the destructive Cliff’s development on Hammer Flat. This 1,350 unit development on prime winter game range is still without access from SH 21 and joins the many other developments with insufficient demand or even infrastructure for its product, now or in the foreseeable future.
    Lesson Learned: Putting developers on key approval boards makes for an unbalanced, sham of a process.

  2. Clippityclop
    Jun 30, 2008, 3:50 pm

    While the inadequate infrastructure concerns on SH 55 and it’s downstream arterials speak for themselves, I am glad that they have been heard by Boise City, COMPASS, and the Ada County P&Z who recently sent Dry Creek Ranch forward as a denial to the Ada County Board of Commssioners.

    At the P&Z hearing, the traffic consultant for Dry Creek Ranch testified that there would be no impact on Cartright Road (to the east) from this development and therefore the developer is not responsible for mitigation/improvements. Are you kidding me? Cartwright will be flooded by vehicles trying to get to town and escape the nightmare of SH 55 and State Street. That means the traffic burden on Bogus Basin and Harrison Blvd (already over capacity)will be further burdened, not to mention Hill Road.

    This intensity of developement in an infrastructure lacking region is completely ridiculous, particularly when there is no meaningful committment on behalf of the developer. SH 55 Consortium Developers, where is the Tier 2 study and what are your hard and fast plans? The public has no interest in subsidizing you. We want performance bonds for realistic solutions.

  3. As a resident of Hill Road,I am happy to hear someone talking about the infrastructure downstream of these development. It seems reasonable that the roads should have adequate capacity for these developments before these developments are approved. If not existing capacity, at least, PLANNED capacity.

    Right now, Hill Road and Harrison are taking the traffic that other designed routes can’t hold. Some people on Hill Road can’t leave there doors open during commuter times because of carbon monoxide alarms go off in their homes due to traffic.

    I wonder if citizens were given a choice between the higher taxes it will cost to build/improve these roads and lose access to foothill land versus the same money going to buy more foothills land to preserve the essence of Boise, which they would chose.

  4. Bob Blurton
    Jun 30, 2008, 5:50 pm

    Everyone loved my hometown of Orange County, CA too. Growth was king. All of the foothills, beaches and canyons filled with homes. Then people built homes over the mountains and up into the deserts.

    The roads, highways and freeways got wider and wider. The air got yellow and disgusting. When I left in 1990, it took 4 hours of sitting in a 6 lane wide freeway traffic jam on a Friday evening to get out of town. Everywhere you tried to go was crowded with people. The dream turned into a nightmare.

    I moved to Boise in 1990 from Orange County, California. My cousin took me to a favorite spot of his right outside of Boise on a camping / fishing trip which really impressed me. That amazing little trip made me pack my bags and leave OC forever.

    Is growth really good? Good for whom? Is it good for the majority of us who just want a nice place to live?

    I contend growth is MAINLY good for those greedy property / land owners who would destroy anything to watch their fat little bank accounts grow.

    All of this is really a moot point now that America is going from Superpower to Bankrupt Nation status. Between the housing and stock market meltdown, the global credit freeze, and energy prices going on a permanent moon-launch, I think GROWTH IS OVER.

    We are now going to need to think about controlling economic contraction, not growth. I shudder to think of ‘Deer-in-the-headlights-Dave’ controlling Boise’s future.

    I just finished ‘Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects’ by Dmitry Orlov. This is hot off the presses, very well reviewed, and a worthwhile book for those who dare to know more than your Television/Newspaper tells you.

    He says (along with a great many other great minds (watch for articles and book reviews)) that we are currently entering the economic collapse of America. This book is a great resource to understand how things may unwind.

    The general premise is that at some point “…production fails to meet maintenance requirements for existing capital.” at which point our economy will vanish, leaving a lot of folks standing around hungry with worthless green paper and stock certificates.

    …And unfortunately, collapse is so close that its fetid breath fogs your window at this very moment…

    Upon first hearing of this topic you might say “How Ridiculous!”. Fair enough, that is what I thought until I looked closer. Of all that is known of empires, perhaps the best-known fact is that they all collapse due to the very conditions we now face in spades.

  5. Nice Bob….what a hypocrite. You escaped CA now hurry slam the door shut behind you right? Was your relocation here not an example of Treasure Valley “growth”. Oh…wait I get it…it was ok because that was back in 1990 and growth didn’t start until….apparently 1991 after you got here. Do you bozo’s read the stuff you post or do you just close your eyes and type? Unreal.

  6. Two years ago, Compass and Boise City also opposed the development of Hammer Flat. Boise City even went through the formalities of trying to extend their area of impact over Hammer Flat. For what it is worth, the process is still in motion, and still being blocked by Ada County.

    At the time, Idaho Smart Growth, Idaho Fish and Game, a number of other agencies, and about 3500 people also joined the two afore mentioned agencies in opposition to that development. The three then commissioners, Peavey Derr, Tilman, and Yzaguirre were so intent on approving it that, in the process of discussing their options, they got busted for violating the open meeting law. Traffic was a problem there too, as in the developer could not show a means of access. Road problems, traffic problems, agency opposition, and the single largest outpouring of public sentiment against a real estate development in Idaho history should have been a hint. But, like three scarecrows looking for a brain in the land of Oz, Judi, Yzzi, and Tilli approved everything.

    Then came the election. Fueled, at least in part, by anger at her votes on development, and the related violation of the open meeting law, Judi got trounced in the primary by an unknown roofer named Steve Kimball.

    Fast forward to the coming election: Two of the commissioner seats are again open. Sharon Ullman is facing incumbant Paul Woods and David Langhorst is facing incumbant Rick Yzaguirre. Of the four, only Yzaguirre has failed to see the benefit of preserving the foothills. The odds are not good, but strange things happen in election years. It is just possible that he may finally catch a clue and listen to the advice of the agencies like Compass, an agency the County funds for this very purpose, and vote to block the inundation of the Dry Creek Valley and all the roads leading south. If he doesn’t catch a clue, he may get a chance to follow Judy’s tracks and see if Hubble is still the outplacement employment center of choice for deposed commissioners.

  7. Here’s the 2006 SH 55 white paper prepared by NACFA/DCRNA:–55_white_paper_v4.pdf

    Though now somewhat dated, it gives an order of magnitude snapshot.

    Note especially that SH55 now carries 6000-9000 vehicles per day and the trip capture rate (footnote one).

  8. Antiphobe–I’m afraid you’re the bozo. People move into and out of areas all the time–this is a highly mobile society, in case you didn’t know it–but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to ruin this lovely area simply because someday, someone from another state will move here…even if that other state is California!

    If you seriously believe that just because some people have moved into the Treasure Valley gives you and others like you a green light to fill the foothills with homes and cars, make our roadways congested, and otherwise duplicate what people like Bob and I moved here to get away from, I wish you’d spend some time living in Orange County or elsewhere in Southern California. After that, come back and say if that’s really what you want the Treasure Valley to become.

  9. Bob Blurton
    Jul 1, 2008, 9:41 am

    Antiphobe. …what a strange name. Is that European? Harsh words from a brave, anonymous soul.

    Those of us who become victims of growth are expected to just stay put and suck it up then?

    Unfortunately, as the evil machine of growth has relentlessly destroyed farmland and existing communities, it has pushed many to abandon their families, friends and homes in search of something better.

    For 99% of human existence, we bipeds have lived in very small troupes of 100 to 200. We lived close to the land and knew our home intimately.

    The way most of us live now is a cartoon of civilization that makes people very unhappy. Our sprawling cities have created legions of slaves to an economy that benefits the very few elites.

    We are destroying the ability of the planet to sustain life. We are destroying all of the naturally occurring systems that provided clean water, food, and shelter to our ancestors back to the beginning of time.

    Those who have been fooled by the propaganda machine into believing America is a great nation, are to be pitied.

    When the last corporation shuts off their lights, packs up their machinery and ships it off to Asia, the brainwashed little consumers of America will, as always, be looking for someone to blame. …Someone to hate. They will waddle out onto their porch and wait for food handouts from their precious government that will never come.

    It is not too late to start thinking and learning. The truly educated explore their world unfettered by popular opinion, which is often wrong.

    What we think is ‘normal’ is really a monstrous display of oil wealth being squandered over a very short period of time. We have created a far-flung empire that cannot survive without cheap energy.

    Once you understand the concept of ‘Peak Oil Theory’, you can move on to …what does it mean for us?

    In short, it means our nation will be unrecognizable in the very near future, perhaps a few months, but certainly not longer than a few years. We are not preparing at all for the huge changes coming our way from expensive energy.

    Where will we get our food? How will we survive the cold Boise winter without heat? These are questions that the most citizens find shocking because they cannot envision a future substantially different from our current reality and quickly turn off their mind if inconvenient facts present themselves.

    Spend some time on

    The website is the world clearinghouse for Peak Oil information. You will quickly find that the world’s most respected business news sources have declared that the Peak Oil crowd was/is right. You will find that our American media is hiding the most important event in the history of humanity, the peaking of global oil production, and what that means.

    The greatest cover-up in the history of the world is in full swing right now.

  10. Request for Fire
    Jul 1, 2008, 10:46 am

    It seems to me that some level of growth will occur in the valley. However, with values of homes decreasing every month, I think a lot of people who would like to move are sort of frozen in place until the geniuses who created the problem in the first place can figure a way out of the mess. I don’t see this happening until after the elections and I don’t see it happening fast after that. This has been about 20 years in the making and we’ll be lucky to see resolution in half that time.

    That being said, I believe housing in any market is a zero-sum game. Since the days of flipping are a memory, about the best anyone will be able to do is buy a house to live in. If they buy a house in one place, they won’t be building anywhere else. If they build in a city, rural Ada won’t be built up. If they build in rural Ada County, the Cities will go begging. At $4/gal. for go juice, I know where I’d prefer to live.

    Perhaps a test would be to see how many homes are selling in Hidden Springs and Avimor these days.

    Does anyone have this information?

    Finally, if anyone has the courage to look at what has/is happening to real estate and our economy in general, you may want to check out:

  11. Dear Request for Fire
    Jul 1, 2008, 11:28 am

    My real estate friends tell me that house sales north of the river, from Boise to Star increased by 50 percent last month. Don’t get too excited. Three houses sold last month, two the month before.

    For all the hype, the only thing that is really going into the ground at Avimor and Hidden Spring is money.

  12. Mr. Blurton… you wouldn’t by chance have a female relative currently living in the Sacramento area would you?

  13. Antiphobe is probably in the mortgage business or some form of lending endeavor. He is a perfect example of the greedy mindset that brought us the S&L crisis, the mortgage lending crisis, gas crisis, and is sure democracy and WMD’s will be found in Iraq. People like him are parasites who get rich of the backs of tax payers.

  14. Sweet Reason
    Jul 1, 2008, 1:33 pm

    50% increase in sales last month?! Happy days are here again.

    Looks like builders are in the business of building homes for a half million, selling them for $350,000 and hoping to make up the difference in volume.

  15. Aunty Phoebe
    Jul 1, 2008, 2:09 pm

    Mercy sakes. Please don’t be too hard on Antiphobe. The poor dear was probably used to making a six digit income for really no effort at all in the real estate business. Now it is likely that he is up his income stream without a paddle. And, they may have also canceled his HELOC and lowered the limits on his credit card limits to next to nothing.

    Goodness, if things don’t change for the better soon, he may have to go out and try to find a job.

  16. I wouldn’t worry too much about major growth projects. No one sane is going to spend their own money, and no banks are going to be lending for such large projects for quite a few years. America’s biggest developers and their investors are quietly going bankrupt. Individuals and money lenders who come out of the coming world depression with any cash left will be looking for safer investments than Treasure Valley real estate.

    EDITOR NOTE–Don’t forget the bonding authority the legislature gave the developers…put it on future owners tax bills.

  17. Who cares about traffic
    Jul 1, 2008, 2:43 pm

    Another point is that ACHD does not care about how much traffic there is anywhere…period.

    As a weekly matter they vote to agree to developments that overload streets – and they don’t care. In fact they do it over and over again.

    We have seen them actually state in public hearings that “we don’t even follow our own policy” when it comes to traffic loads on roads.

    So who cares how many subdivisions anyone builds?

    ACHD for one is not going to do anything…or care about the growth so why should the Copunty Commission?

  18. “Who cares about traffic” is absolutely correct. Despite COMPASS’s letter clearly stating Dry Creek Ranch will clog both State and local roads, and that neither ACHD nor ITD has funds to improve the roads to handle so much traffic, ACHD Commissioners voted UNANIMOUSLY to APPROVE THE DEVELOPMENT.

    Also, for those who believe we don’t have to worry about such developments because the real estate market is NOW in the tank–just keep in mind that real estate always has been cyclical. There’s no reason to expect that this crash will last forever. Once we start to see an uptick (probably early 2010), those developers that are left will begin building. They simply want to have all the approvals in place NOW so they can be first out of the chute with new homes to sell.

  19. Clippityclop
    Jul 1, 2008, 3:29 pm

    We’re on the verge of 4th of July weekend, when traffic on SH 55 hits an all-time high and boat trailers stretch as far as the eye can see. Imagine this, times 10+, and you’ll get an idea of the new and (not) improved SH 55 if this intensity of development goes in… and not just on the 4th, but every commute. We’re talking a car every 7 seconds at Brookside and 55, and that’s if they’re spread out over a 24-hour period, not just at rush hour.

    Folks, it’s time to wake up and demand better planning from your County Commissioners — they’ll do it, and make the developers do it — but only if you hold them to it. Please send in your comments before the Dry Creek Ranch public hearing on 8/27/08 (6 pm, Ada County Court House) to [email protected]. Or, get your licks in by testifying personally on 8/27. And of course, don’t forget that it’s an election year for two of these commissioners.

    Also, Cartwright Ranch PC will go before the Ada County Commissioners on 7/16/08. Try to comment on that one, too. And no, ACHD has NO plans to fund the 36th Street extension. North End, buckle your seatbelts. Your world is about to change like you can’t imagine.

  20. For all of those that have slammed Sharon, she’s starting to look better every day! I used to think she would make a good “foil” for the rest of the county. Now, she seems to be more and more mandatory come November.

  21. Bob Blurton
    Jul 1, 2008, 10:34 pm

    …to Cyclops – none that I know of.

    Regarding Real Estate being cyclical…

    In Orange County Ca, around 1987, I was a realtor. Boeing laid off 20,000 people about 30 miles away and real estate went into a coma for about 10 years. Sales were essentially at a standstill and prices dropped each year.

    Why is the drop in real estate different this time??

    Houses have become too expensive in relation to income, they have to lose a lot more value to realign with real incomes. Also, real incomes are dropping like a rock with the skyrocketing commodities prices. Our government inflation statistics are bogus. You can find inflation statistics calculated the old fashioned way at…
    They say the CPI is much higher than reported.

    Another reason house prices will keep dropping is that folks are already starting to cram more people into fewer houses because of economic factors.

    A final reason is that these houses are energy pigs and very poorly insulated compared to what is possible. Natural gas production in America is falling off of a cliff and liquid natural gas is not working out the way we thought it would. Soon, the houses in Boise are mostly going to be cold and dark in the winter, and that just won’t make for high resale numbers.
    –Matt Simmons (the worlds largest energy financier) pointed out that North America hit its natural gas peak in 1973 and is now falling off the production cliff. Presentations exploring Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports to the US concluded what FTW [Ruppert’s website] already knew. The cost is too expensive, the lead time too long, and the capital investment too great to make much of a difference here.

  22. Interesting. Many of you seem to be under the mistaken impression that Hwy 55 traffic loads will be adversely impacted by large planned community growth in the foothills MORE than growth elsewhere. Not really the case.

    Imagine for a second that you all got your way and that the communities planned in the Foothills and Dry Creek valley were to cease and desist. Would growth and new homebuilding efforts go away. Not likely……they would be absorbed elsewhere – southeast Boise if Team Dave had his way (served by a trolley line no doubt) or more realistically continuing on the path of least resistance westward down the Meridian/Middleton corridor. Growth in those areas would be just as likely to impact the recreational corridor of Hwy 55 as it would should it occur in the Foothills, wouldn’t it?

    Wouldn’t the CA guy who relocated to the Treasure Valley and ended up in Middleton vs. the Foothills be just as likely to load up his 5th wheeler and quads to head towards McCall? Seems to me your anger is misplaced. It might even be better if he started in the Foothills…at least he wouldn’t clog up Eagle Road any more than it already is!!! Access on Hwy 55 from 44 to Horseshoe Bend isn’t really your beef now is it? You’re gonna bottleneck at Banks regardless of where growth down in the Valley occurs. Sorry boys best sell the jet skis, pay off the credit cards and read another Russian novel or whatever it is my friend Bob is reading. There just doesn’t seem to be a good solution does there?

    PS – What will Sharon Ulman bring to the table that she didn’t offer last time? Nothing. Total rerun of a tired boring squeaky novel.

  23. Antiphobe, sadly, your evaluation is mostly correct. However, the biggest difference in development in Middleton as opposed to the foothills is that we don’t have to look at a pile of concrete and wood 24/7.
    Obviously Sharon can be as obnoxious as your first wife. But I would much rather have her
    “squeaky” novel than the “Opus” cartoon we currently are suffering with.

  24. Sweet Reason
    Jul 2, 2008, 8:04 am

    With respect to traffic on SH-55. As a resident of the valley since 1980, I have noted the increase in recreational traffic on this route as the years roll by. About 15 years ago, I pretty much gave up on the whole idea of ‘heading for the hills’. As Yogi Berra put it “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.” I fully expect this traffic to continue as time passes. However, studies performed by professional indicate that recreational traffic is only a small fraction of the traffic generated by turning the foothills into cities. SH-55 is slated to carry the major portion of this burden of traffic.

    The way I look at it is that we will either have a highway that looks like the road between Bellview and Ketchum in summer, or I-84 between Eagle IC and the flying Wye. The first option will be massively unpleasant, the other will require the expenditure of literally hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade SH-55. In this case, will the developers pony up this money? Or will it turn out like the East Park Center Bridge, where the taxpayer ended up footing the bill so development can continue?

    Your call.

  25. Sweet Reason – again more displaced anger. Developers pay Impact Fees and the residents of their developments pay Property Taxes. Those funds are intended to improve roads. ITD and ACHD are your culpritt…not developers. Don’t hate the player – hate the game.

  26. Dear Request for Fire
    Jul 2, 2008, 10:32 am

    My real estate friends tell me that house sales north of the river, from Boise to Star increased by 50 percent last month. Don’t get too excited. Three houses sold last month, two the month before.

    For all the hype, the only thing that is really going into the ground at Avimor and Hidden Spring is money.

  27. Sweet Reason
    Jul 2, 2008, 10:36 am

    Antiphobe, can you explain to me how developers get impact fees and property taxes to ITD? Last I heard, ITD gets its revenues from gasoline taxes (only). Also, I estimate it will take $600,000,000 or more to upgrade SH-55 to a limited access expressway. Assuming 20,000 homes along SH-55, this would be $30,000 per home in impact fees.

    I really don’t see a culprit, only a general unwillingness on the part of developers and govenment agencies to acknowledge that there are some – literally – life and death issues at stake here.

  28. Antiphone–before your heart bleeds for poor developers paying impact fees, take a look at the ACHD website where you’ll find the complex formula that ACHD uses to PAY BACK a good portion of those impact fees! Golly-gee, I just don’t remember the government ever paying ME back ANY portion of my property taxes.

    Also, if new houses/townhouses/condos/apartment buildings were built in cities instead of in rural areas as these two developments propose, there might finally be enough density to make mass transit fiscally viable. What a concept!

  29. Bob Blurton
    Jul 2, 2008, 10:58 am

    Actually Anti-everything, impact fees do not cover the cost of the infrastructure.

    It takes fees along the lines of 25% or more of the value of the developement to pay the real costs. Our fees are a little token so that the developmonsters can say “look, we’re paying our share”.

    We the people of Idaho could shut down the developers in a New York minute by freezing zoning laws in the name of sanity. We the people of Idaho are powerful beyond our wildest dreams.

    The ‘growth is good’, ‘growth will happen no matter what you do’ crowd are dead wrong. It is up to the people to control our destiny, not the greedy few who can never have enough of anything.

    The only thing that stands between us and a better life is the corporate mouthpiece / advertising delivery devices known as television and newspapers.

    If I had my way, I’d confiscate the local media buildings, run all of their bubble headed bleach blondes out of town, and turn their properties and capital over to non-profit news organizations.

  30. Sweet Reason, the reason that the taxpayers are footing the bill for the East Park Center Bridge is because ACHD reneged on its agreement with the developer, Harris Ranch, who in the 90’s was going to build the bridge and then be reimbursed by impact fees once the houses started being built. In other words, growth was supposed to pay for itself and would have in that situation.

    Well, ACHD jerked everyone around for so long that the deal fell apart. What would have cost $6million or so back then has what tripled now. And it does come out of yours and my pockets. Such a deal.

  31. Sorry to be repetitive, but I really think you need to look outside the Valley at what is happening in the wider world. It isn’t just the real estate market in CA, FL, AZ, and NV that is tanking; it is the entire world economy based on easy credit and cheap energy that we have learned to rely on since the end of WW2. The party is over, guys, but the sobering up period has hardly begun.

    There will be no real estate ‘uptick’ in 2010 . . . that’s when the Option ARMs start to reset and all the nice middle-class people with good jobs lose the homes they are already upside down on. But that’s just housing. The noose is already tightening on commercial resort developments, and it will hit commercial office and retail soon after. Anyone noticed what’s happening with Starbucks, GM, Ford, Home Depot, Linens n’ Things, and dozens of other companies that were expanding right along with the housing boom? Those businesses are shedding property and jobs as fast as they can, hoping to trim down to survival weight before the lending tsunami really hits.

    To extend the analogy: all we have seen so far is the tide starting to recede, unexpectedly, as the sub-prime meltdown finally ended the go-go real-estate madness. The credit tide is still going out and out and out. The further it goes, the bigger the tidal wave that will follow. It’s going to wash away a lot of the world we took for granted, and we will be spending a long time rebuilding sometime after 2015 . . . perhaps long after.

    The whole world finance structure has come unstuck, and is causing chaos in Europe and Asia, not just the US. No one knows how to stop it. It looks a lot like 1929 on steroids. Read the European papers online and see what’s happening in Ireland, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, the UK. Then do what you can to survive what is coming.

  32. Bob Blurton
    Jul 2, 2008, 12:38 pm

    Quinx, what happened to your rose colored glasses? You simply must not be allowed in to associate in proper circles with that negative attitude. Perhaps a dose of Prozac would cheer you up? Perhaps going under the knife for a realitydectomy?

    Be careful with your facts, you might scare the clueless multitudes enough that their heads might never come back out of the sand again.

    My personal favorite economic reality check sources are…
    The Wall Street Journal
    The Guardian, UK

    Please don’t think me greedy for space, but I would like to post this weeks rant by James H. Kunstler, America’s number one interviewed Peak Oil guru.

    June 30, 2008
    Worse Than Grandma’s Depression

    This isn’t so funny anymore. Intimations of a July banking collapse rumbled though the Internet this weekend while mainstream news orgs like The New York Times and CNN pulled their puds over swift boats and Amy Winehouse’s performance technique. Something is happening, and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones…? to quote the master.
    What’s happening is that American society is sliding into a greater depression than the one Grandma lived through. On the technical side, there has been unending controversy as to whether we’re gripped by inflation or deflation. It’s certainly deceptive. Food and gasoline prices are rising faster than the rivers of Iowa. But the prices of assets, like houses, stocks, jet-skis, GMC Yukons and pre-owned Hummel figurines are cratering as America turns into Yard Sale Nation.
    We’re a very different country than we were in 1932. In that earlier crisis of capital, few people had any money but our society still possessed fantastic resources. We had plenty of everything that our land could provide: a treasure trove of mineral ores and the equipment to refine it all, a wealth of oil and gas still in the ground, and all the rigs needed to get at it, manpower galore (and of a highly disciplined, regimented kind), with fine-tuned factories waiting for orders. We had a railroad system that was the envy of the world and millions of family farms (even despite the dust bowl) owned by people who retained age-old skills not yet degraded by agribusiness. We had fully-functional cities with operating waterfronts and ten thousand small towns with local economies, local newspapers, and local culture.
    We had a crisis of capital in the 1930s for reasons that are still debated today. My own guess is a combination of a bad debt workout that sucked “money” into a black hole (since money is loaned into existence, but vanishes if the loans are not systematically paid back) plus a gross saturation of markets, meaning that every American who had wanted to buy a car or an electric toaster had done so and there was no one left to sell to. (The first round of globalism — 1870 – 1914 — had shut down after the fiasco of World War One.)
    Our debt problems today are of a magnitude so extreme that astronomers would be hard pressed to calculate them. By any rational measure our society is comprehensively bankrupt. From the federal treasury down to the suburban cul-de-sacs so much loaned money is either not being paid back, or is at risk of never being paid back, that the suckage of presumed wealth has passed through an event horizon out of the known universe into some other realm of space-time, never to be seen again in this realm. This would seem to be the very essence of monetary deflation — money defaulted out-of-existence.
    This condition is partly disguised by both the loss of credibility of US currency and real-world scarcities of oil and food, but the upshot will be something at least twice as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930s: people with no money in a land with no resources (with manpower that has no discipline), hardly any family farms left, cities that are basket-cases of bottomless need, comatose small towns stripped of their assets and social capital, an aviation industry on the verge of death, and a railroad system that is the laughingstock of the world. Not to mention the mind-boggling liabilities of suburbia and the motoring infrastructure that services it.
    The banks have been doing their death dance for an entire year now, pretending that their problems are those of mere “liquidity” (i.e. cash-on-hand) rather than insolvency (no cash either on hand or in the vault and nothing else to sell to raise cash except worthless “creative” securities that nobody would ever buy). But the destruction of money (resulting from loans not paid back) is now so intense that the game of pretend has reached its terminal point. The question for the moment is exactly who and what will be crushed as these institutions roll over and die.
    Complicating matters is a global oil predicament that is really not hard to understand, but which the organs of news and opinion have obdurately failed to explicate for an anxious public. Call it Peak Oil. There are only a few elements of it you need to know. 1.) that demand has now permanently outstripped supply; 2.) that new discoveries are too meager to offset consumption; 3.) That under under the circumstances, the systems we rely on for daily life are crumbling. I’ve called this situation The Long Emergency.
    Our chances of mitigating this, and of continuing our current way-of-life is about zero. I’ve tried to promote the idea that rather than waste remaining resources in the futile attempt to sustain the unsustainable (i.e. come up with “solutions” to keep suburbia running), that we should begin immediately making other arrangements for daily life — mainly by downscaling and re-scaling everything from farming to commerce to the way we inhabit the landscape — but my suggestions have proven unpopular even among the “environmental” elites, who are too busy being entranced by new-and-groovy ways to keep all the cars running.
    So where we are at now is the equivalent of standing in the slop by the ocean shore under a gathering hundred-foot-high wave that is about to come crashing down on our heads. Since I sure don’t know everything, I can’t say how this will all play out in the months ahead, especially with the presidential election coming at the exact moment that voters will be turning on their furnaces for the cold and dark winter beyond. I would venture to say that so far our society as a whole has done a piss-poor job of comprehending the situation. But there is still the possibility, with four months of politicking left, that the nature of our predicament can be articulated in a way that few can fail to understand, the way Mr, Lincoln articulated the terms of the Civil War on the eve of its fateful outbreak.

  33. Thank you Bob Blurton for the forwarded rant.

    I have been thinking for some time as I pass land being torn up for unneeded buildings that will not have tenants that Idaho really needs to put any useable land under cultivation for food — human and animal — now. Zoning laws should encourage people to keep a given number rabbits, chickens, ducks and other small farm-type animals on urban and semi-urban properties. Support intensive programs to teach people how to grow edible garden plants or do urban farming. And, as in the 1960s and 1970s, share skills and knowledge about what you can produce yourself to supply household needs.

    Idahoans were a pretty self-sufficient people when we moved here 42 years ago. I was constantly amazed at the life-skills ordinary people used (and shared) regularly. And every summer, a surprising number of them strapped on backpacks and headed out of Boise on foot for the mountains. There was a steady stream of them walking up the two-lane stretch of Highway 15 (now Highway 55) past Floating Feather where we lived that first summer.

    Today, the first step toward taking back our lives in the Treasure Valley and beyond should be to call a halt to development that does not have the infrastructure to support it, that may not have adequate water available and that will serious degrade life and even use of property in the neighboring areas. Public officials need to look long and hard at whether there will even be a way to finance the needed infrastructure in the foreseeable future — and be required to state what the financial means are, if they believe it is possible.

  34. Bob Blurton
    Jul 3, 2008, 7:44 am

    Your absolutely right Anne.

    The Peak Oil crowd has been saying that for a lot of years. There is a reason why the Nordic countrys started preparing for Peak Oil 15 years ago. It takes a long time to retreat from a position of high energy useage in a graceful manner.

    We in America are now faced with an economic collapse that will be ugly, and the corporate monsters have destroyed our ability to quickly reorganize into a localized lifestyle.

    I am personally hoping that a LOT of people commit suicide, which is actually already happening. The middle aged American suicide rate is the highest its been in over 30 years.

    The only local group that is talking about what you are saying is the Boise Sustainable Living Community. You can join at…

    A group of councellors have put together a website to help folks deal with Peak Oil at…

    Here’s what I think. The Treasure Valleys carrying capacity will eventually be about 2 to 3 thousand. The area may be one of the better locations to be in the coming years due to its remote location, placement at the top of a large watershed, and fairly homogeneous population.

    Long term, this area might not fair so well because of its remoteness and the predicted effects of global warming.

  35. curious george
    Jul 8, 2008, 7:19 pm

    Doesn’t seem that residents in the Valley care much that the proposed Dry Creek development would canabalize one of the most productive agricultural tracks in the area…

    Not that the traffic issues are anything to sneeze at, but the out provided to any developer is that they can buy all necessary improvements to mitigate the traffic impacts. If a development requires six lanes and overpasses, then when they can reach traffic concurrency (when the supply reaches the demand) then the development gets approved.

    But how do you mitigate the permanent loss of local farmland?

    It has been argued that growth is inevitable — that it’s just a question of when it all happens and its eventual distribution. This is a specious argument since the capacity to support all these mouths is not limited by manmade infrastructure but by the very ability to grow local crops.

    Wasn’t the county’s staff at one point working on a set of agricultural preservation strategies? Wasn’t the Blueprint for Good Growth suppose to address this limiting factor? Doesn’t the very Long Range Regional Transportation Plan for Ada & Canyon County accept that farmland preservation is the lynchpin for growth (not roadway capacity)?

    It seems that the leadership we expect of our elected officials to care for the public’s health, welfare, and safety is sorely lacking. And no one is blameless. It is incredibly easy for one agency to fire off a letter pointing out the problems facing another agency — but how damning can their criticism be when these same agencies have officially accepted the ag-based limiting factor on growth in the Valley AND they withhold the necessary resources to develop a joint comprehensive plan to deal with this issue?

    The City of Boise is worried about Dry Creek? Where’s its support for Agriculture and Agricultural Processing preservation? COMPASS is worried about SH55 carrying capacity? Why hasn’t it cited it’s own LRTP’s AG Preservation policies regarding the loss of the Dry Creek farmland? Why have all the land use agencies in Ada County renegged on their obligations to fully implement the Ag Preservation policies spelled out in their own Blueprint for Good Growth Phase One Report?

    At one level it really is okay to take the position that a “generic” parcel of property can be developed — as long as the development mitigates its impacts. You establish what constitutes an Adequate Public Facility — and you set up the rules to ensure that no one crosses that line.

    But, when a development encroaches upon our communities’ abilities to feed the populace the time to define un-mitigatable impacts is upon us. Is farmland a “public facility”, is sufficient drinking water, is breathable air?

  36. Clippityclop
    Jul 10, 2008, 7:37 am

    Wow, George!
    Since you left the County, you seem to have become one of us. I applaud the transformation, and I agree with what you’ve said above. Sadly, the Commissioners don’t give this wonderful argument much thought. A young farmer eloquently testified about these concerns before P&Z, but it was trafiic that carried the day with them. That said, the Dry Creek valley is recognized as being perhaps the most fertile in the area… the top soil is > than 4 feet thick! Anyway, welcome to the fold and keep up the good work.

  37. curious george
    Jul 14, 2008, 8:20 pm


    If you mean that I seem to have transformed into a “growthaphobe” then I’m afraid you’re in for a disappointment. There is a legitimate roll for growth to play in the Valley, both in & out of municipalities.

    Outside of cities, limited high-density growth can (and should) be used as a mechanism to convert valuable open space and ag land to permanent preserves. The inability to see the correct roll for ex-urban growth was one of a handful of horrible oversights in the Boise Foothills Plan. Further, the existing municipal governments’ inability to embrace the concept of a Transfer of Development Rights by identifying the necessary Receiving Zones is another.

    While my short-term stint at the county was enlightening, I was left disheartened by how the concept of growth has been demonized — and how many have chosen to highjack the public process to achieve their own selfish ends.

    Though Ada County is the most wealthy county in Idaho, to be the King of Paupers is nothing to boast about. If the tax structure in the state were corrected (with a local option tax), and the individual levy rates were set to address all the problems that face the citizens of the region — then preservation-through-purchase might eventually be a viable option. But even with such a hugh overhaul of the tax system, it’s doubtful that a culture of have-nots will choose to pool their limited resources to tackle the big regional issues.

    This leaves preservation-through-entitlement as the only option. So far Ada County is the only jurisdiction that has figured out how to do this, but the process is still overly reliant on the whims of elected officials — and not on the hard science of preservation. To their credit, the commissioners do rely on technical staff to guide them, but even that guidance has its limits.

    The best next step is to continue the Blueprint process to the next logical level — the creation and adoption of Subarea Specific Plans that identify the critical resources and best growth scenario for each subarea. These Subarea Plans cannot be a simple McHargian Constraints Analysis, but an actual Specific Plan with listed pre-entitlement rights for individual parcels. No parcel owner would be forced to develop his land as identified in the adopted plan, but if he so chooses then he enjoys a greatly streamlined approval process. If he wanted to do something else, then there’s the whole public review process left to him — with the additional burden of convincing all the citizenry why they were wrong when they adopted the Subarea Plan.

    Ultimately, such action would require that each unit of local government respect the authorities and constraints of the others. The one thing we’ve learned through Blueprint is that this is almost impossible. Until elected officials feel the anger of the citizens when they demonstrate an inability to play nice together — we’re doomed.

  38. Clippityclop
    Jul 15, 2008, 4:58 pm

    George, my love,

    You can’t begin to imagine how hard we’ve all pressured the Commissioners for good sub area plans. In fact, a sub area plan for the Central (what some call Western) Foothills was a major priority identified in the recent Comp plan rewrite. But alas, our pleas for same have fallen on seemingly deaf Commissioners, or at least we haven’t heard back from them despite numerous letters (maybe voting them out of office this fall will help improve their hearing).

    All the while, planned community and nonfarm subdivision apps in the rural tier continue to be scheduled before P&Z and the Commissioners with alarming regularity. Oh Blueprint, AC Comp Plan and sub area plans, where art thou? Better yet, time for you Commissioners to man up. I doubt that ACHD, IDWR ot ITD will do it for you.

  39. curious george
    Jul 16, 2008, 2:16 pm

    I would imagine the largest hurdle for the County Commissioners is fiscal – not a systemic avoidance of good planning. Though with their appointment of a non-planner as the director of the county’s Development Services department (for no other reason to save money), I’m not sure they haven’t cut their nose off to spite their face. It will take years to re-build the necessary depth of staff to deal with the emergent issues facing the county citizenry.

    Though the county was the largest single financial contributor to the Blueprint process (and the largest contributor of staff resources), the funds came from one-time set-asides that were targeted for the re-write of the Comprehensive Plan. With that money now spent, the chances that additional county-citizen tax money will flow to prepare subarea plans is extremely unlikely. The North Ada County Foothills “Subarea” Plan portion of the revised County Comp plan is not a true Subarea plan, in that it falls far short of an actual Specific Plan — its current status is due to the lack of funding needed to develop a true growth plan for the region. It’s simply a list of contraints — and in some places at odds with the City of Eagle’s proposed plan.

    The technical staff working on the agency portions of Blueprint’s implementation did propose a work-around that would shift the fiscal burden to the individual cities that would grow into the developing areas. This seemed reasonable since it would eventually be the citizens of those cities that would be expected to provide muncipal services to these areas. This was done through a fine-tuning of the State’s Area of City Impact modification process — via the insertion of a Planning Boundary Area that would establish a communication protocol between all the parties of interest. Within these PB’s the cities would fund and lead the Subarea planning process, with the county invited to participate as a key stakeholder.

    One of the most galling aspects of the Blueprint process was the position that some leaders took in regards to regional cooperation. When the hired consultant suggested that an additional level of scrutiny should be applied to proposed developments along strategic transportation corridors and (already defined) preferred development nodes (and only during the Blueprint study), the Valley’s leadership balked and refused to implement the necessary interim statutes. Even though state law would automatically sunset these statutes in twelve months to protect private property rights, mayors and councils refused to cooperate. The county, for one, was prepared to move forward with an ordinance — but the cities unanimously halted any further discussion. The City of Eagle went one step further and wrote an official FU letter to the consultant stating that it felt it had the necessary plan already in place to deal with the situation (its Soaring Eagle Comp Plan) — and it added that if a development opportunity presented itself that deviated from their plan, it reserved the right to countermand its adopted language.

    How’s that for cooperation? It should be noted that the mayors of Eagle and Meridian were instrumental in firing that consultant because he had the termerity to suggest that the cities in Idaho really don’t have the legal authority to annex property outside their respective Areas of City Impact. It’s not as if the consultant (Robert Freilich) didn’t understand the legal ramifications of his statement, he’s one of the most preeminent legal authorities in the country regarding land use issues — the American Bar Association even published his book “From Sprawl to Smart Growth. Successful Legal, Planning and Environmental Systems”. He’s also written 26 other publications related to the legal implications of growth management — but I guess an Egg Heiress and an Uber Soccer Mom know best.

    Am I sounding grumpy?

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