Supremes Say Cottage Lease Law Unconstitutional

In a ruling released Friday the Idaho Supreme Court eliminated the “home field advantage” for cottage leaseholders on state land at Payette and Priest Lakes.

We have to hand it to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden for suing his fellow land board members over the issue–a 1990 law giving current lessees priority for lease renewals. He contended the law was being used to circumvent the Idaho Constitution’s requirement to generate the maximum return for endowment beneficiaries. Wasden’s office said public schools will benefit because auctions will generate more income.

There was a huge outcry 20 plus years ago when all “those Californians” started bidding on cottage sites owned by the state. The out of staters had plenty of cash and were willing to outbid the old-time Idaho families who had build cottages on the state land they leased for very good rates.

Wasden uses the same basic argument–maximum return on investment–when it comes to the state going into business ventures normally conducted by the private sector. The GUARDIAN has opposed some real estate deals–notably the Affordable Storage venture in Boise and tenant improvements on a new brew pub downtown. Our research indicates these business deals don’t always increase the return on investment for the endowment funds (most go to education) and depending on how the books are cooked actually show a loss.

Here is the AP DAILY PAPER version.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I wonder why DEQ/EPA allows the State of Idaho to lease the land so near the lakes for residential use. The decades of human impact on those lakes is easy to see.

  2. chicago sam
    Jun 30, 2012, 9:31 am

    In my view State is shooting themselves in the foot by limiting leases to 10 years. Should be 50 or 100 years with provisions for reassesment of value every 5 years. The real value to school districts would be in the improvements and the taxes the county would levy. Leaseholders could build without fear of auction every 10 years and financing should be much easier to obtain. I would bet you would see a real building boom if leases were long term. Some will say grandpa and grandma built this–we are emotionally attached. tuff to give up entitlements isn’t it! Of course the beuracracy in Boise might be smaller.

  3. Really? The “Supremes”? Was Diana Ross there too??

  4. There goes the nieghborhood – – again.

  5. Chicago Sam hit one nail on the head.

    The other consequence to this decision involves some endowment lands being utilized by the University of Idaho at the McCall Field Campus also known as MOSS(McCall Outdoor Science School). As of 2011, IDL owns the land. What happens when that lease comes up for renewal? Parks and Rec. were working on a land exchange to help UI out but I don’t think that happened. The proposed exchange was for IDPR’s Vardis Fisher property that was just listed for sale in March 2012.

    At one time IDL also owned Lakeview Village that IDPR recently expanded too. I believe there was an land exchange so this property should not be affected.

  6. Why would the Legislature even try to interfere with market price pressures for the lake site leases?

    In a Republican dominated state and a party philosophy of limited government these leases should go to the highest bidders.

    I am also concerned about the Land Board getting into owning and leasing retail establishements. No private citizen can compete with a tax free entity like government. On that same note churches should be taxed on everything but the actual church grounds and sanctuary. All the city, county and state services now get paid by taxpayers.

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