Self Storage Association Quizzes Idaho Land Board

The national president of the Self-storage Association in Washington, D.C.has asked the Idaho Land Board to curtail future purchases of retail storage businesses, investing instead in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) specializing in self storage.

The letter to the board is dated November 5 and includes numerous questions and concerns about the practice of state-owned and operated businesses that are normally private. The letter was prompted by the GUARDIAN STORY which was picked up by AP.

A spokesman for the association told the GUARDIAN Idaho is the only state they know of that invests in and operates tax-exempt storage businesses. The group has secured an agreement with the Department of Defense to refrain from offering storage at Base and Post Exchanges (BX/PX) in competition with private facilities nearby. They would like a similar deal with Idaho.


November 5, 2010

Mr. George Bacon
Director – Idaho Department of Lands &
Idaho Board of Land Commissioners
300 North 6th Street, Suite 103
Boise, Idaho 83720-0050

Dear Director Bacon & State Board of Land Commissioners,

We are writing to you on behalf of the national Self Storage Association,
representing more than 32,000 operators and more than 46,000 self storage facilities
nationwide; and the Idaho Self Storage Association representing approximately 450
facilities in the state. Our organizations are very concerned about both the direct
unfair competitive circumstance and the general poor precedent that your state’s
recent purchase of a self storage facility presents.

As has been the case with most real estate sectors during this recession, self
storage operators currently face significant challenges and have had to adjust their
business operations to compete with each other during this difficult period. They
understand fair competition and recognize that all industry businesses must also
make similar difficult decisions as they relate to overhead, payroll, security,
marketing, regulatory mandates and taxes.

The State of Idaho’s (Department of Land) purchase for $2.7 million of Affordable
Self Storage, and the subsequent management of the facility, is a direct affront to
our understanding of the clear distinctions between private/public activities. It is
both unfair to the Idaho citizens who have established businesses in your state, and
to the many consumers who currently and in the future will rent storage units from
private operators at rates established based upon uniform operating dynamics.

Fair competition between companies that provide similar goods and services usually
benefits consumers through lower prices and superior products. Any government-run
facility which, for example, is not required to remit property taxes, upsets this
standard. Government projects that duplicate services that are readily available in
the private sector not only unnecessarily increase the size of state government, but
directly compete with main street businesses that pay the taxes which support that

Not only is the practice of your state government directly competing with private
storage operators unfair to those private operators, we feel it will be unfair to
the citizen/consumers of Idaho. History has clearly demonstrated that when
governments enter traditionally private-sector areas the quality of those products
and services deteriorate.

We have many questions about this immediate situation and any other future plans for
the government to enter the private sector:
– Could you please describe for us the acquisition process via which Affordable Self
Storage was purchased?

– Were private sector entities given the opportunity to make offers on the
Affordable Self Storage property? If so, did the state “outbid” these private
operators utilizing the considerable Idaho Endowment Trust Lands treasure chest?

– How will your new government-owned self storage facility compensate municipal
governments if you are not required to pay property taxes? (Local property taxes
typically account for 30% to 35% of the operating expenses for a self storage

– How will the tax dollars lost to the local county, city and school district be
replaced? (Conservatively, we estimate that property taxes remitted from our
industry in your state exceed several million dollars). The government should not be
in competition with its taxpayer base.

– If the state-owned facility does not pay property taxes, how will the state
establish rental rates? If these rates are based upon operating expenses that do not
include the same property tax expenses as private sector owner/operators, will your
pricing be discernibly cheaper, thus undercutting private competing operators?

– Does the State of Idaho plan on continuing the practice of purchasing private self
storage businesses?

Our memberships are made up of honest, taxpaying businesses that do not deserve this
unfair competition which could threaten their livelihood and investments. These
businesses have invested in your state and should not be required to cope with
unfair and unwanted government-intrusion or murky acquisition practices. We
encourage the Department of Lands to divest itself of this facility in a fair
process and refrain from this practice in the future.

We respectfully recommend to
the state that, if it wants to invest in self storage, it should look into
purchasing shares of one of the four publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts
(REITs) in our industry. Thank you for your prompt response to our concerns.


Michael T. Scanlon, Jr.
President & CEO
Self Storage Association

Richard Church
Idaho Self Storage Association

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Maybe the state should change the name of storage and become less affordable.

  2. After reading the storage scandle, investigating a lawsuit between Settlers Irrigation Dist. and ACHD (I did that last year to get tothe bottom of pressurized irrigation assessment increases), & wathcing City Council meeetings via public access tv I have to the conclusion Joe and Jane Blow are around for decoration. sigh

  3. If they admit their mistake in this purchase I wonder if they could get their money out of the deal? Probably not in this market of continued losses in real property values.

  4. Has anyone looked to see if there is any conflict of interest in who is renting the storage spaces and how much they are paying for the space?

  5. Why not have the Boise Airport buy the storeage place? Now that the constitution will be changed the airport (and city of Boise) can buy the facility and charge “fees”. And be perfectly legal.

    I bet we see the City of Boise – via the airport – getting into all kinds of businesses.

  6. I would be interested in:
    A- Who did they buy it from?
    B- Who brokered the deal?
    C- Who benefited from this effort?
    This thing reeks of someone getting a “sweet deal” at our expense.

  7. DeterminedVoter
    Nov 10, 2010, 11:43 pm

    Idaho is once again showing to it’s citizens how a one party system is not good for the state.
    As long as nothing is questioned until after it is in place, we will suffer the consequences.
    Hart in Athol, Canyon County Commissioners, Ada County Courthouse; the addition of the Capitol building. These are examples that preceded the storage facilities operations.
    We have inbred crooks.
    I agree with Cyclops. We need the details.

  8. The problem is that commenting among ourselves (I am guilty too) is just preaching to the choir and does nothing to get new information or answer questions.

    EDITOR NOTE–Remember that others listen to this choir’s voice, even if they don’t comment.

  9. Thank you for the information from the Self Storage Association. Perhaps it’s time to research the possibility of an independent Land Board comprised of business/commerce people, ordinary citizens, etc., without a vested interest in the state coffers. In this case, the Land Board asserts it is acting in the best interest of education, while at the same time depleting local school district funds and competing with private enterprise through an inequitable tax-exempt status. The state of Idaho already apportions 65 percent of its entire budget to education. Time to invest in the local economy as well. Support local businesses!

  10. Bob Freeman
    Nov 15, 2010, 8:14 am

    I called the Governor’s office several weeks ago with variations of the questions that Cyclops mentioned and was told that someone from the Land Board would call me. I’m still waiting.

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