Social Engineering Or Prudent Planning?

The DAILY PAPER had a good story by reporter Sven Berg Sunday detailing plans by Boise officials to offer “developer welfare” for downtown apartments catering to young professionals. We see it as social engineering.

Efforts to increase population density — not to mention traffic and urban crowding — have not been particularly successful due to the high cost of condos in those lofty towers across from city hall, the Aspen Lofts on Front, and the Grove Hotel.

The Statesman story said, “City Council will consider a proposal to award grant money and loan guarantees for rented apartments and for-sale condominiums, Planning and Development Services Director Derick O’Neill said. As much as $150,000 for these projects would be available next year from federal grants and a Boise account that accumulates money by leasing city-owned railroads to Union Pacific.”

The social engineers at city hall seem bent on the idea Downtown needs more housing. They want to encourage private developers to build 1,000 residences – a round number they say would begin to fill demand. The proposal for grants and loan guarantees is part of the plan.
City Councilor Lauren McLean is looking for a variety of “products” so they don’t appeal to just one type of resident. The GUARDIAN has a suggestion: What about offering a downtown “product” for the thirty or more sex offenders living within a half mile of Shoshone Park near Canal and Vista. We count more than 20 convicted sex offenders at 2717 Vista alone. Downtown residences would make sense, especially if the other residents are expected to be “single professionals without children.”
The area referred to by some as “African Village” across from Jefferson School on Latah would be another good source of diversity for downtown apartments.

Whatever the motivation, be it economic, social, liberal or conservative, public officials have used the Boise Bench neighborhoods as a repository for refugees, sex offenders, mobil home parks, and low cost subsidized housing. Schools like Hawthorne, Whitney, and Horizon are a reflection of this social engineering. Why not attract some of these residents downtown and have their children attend Adams or Highlands schools so more than a single type of renter is attracted to downtown.

Whether they are aware or not, Boise officials are creating a huge split between BENCH and VALLEY RESIDENTS (Northenders). The obsession with downtown businesses, transit center, trolley, bike lanes, and specialized police and fire units, comes at the expense of Bench residents.

There is lip service paid to “urban sprawl, but Boise Councilors continue to provide sewer service, fire contracts and then annex thousands upon thousands of residents against their will into the higher tax zone within the city limits. Thanks to urban renewal laws, new developments and increased values on existing parcels provide NO REVENUES to the city of Boise. Taxes on those properties are deferred to the Capitol City Development Corp (CCDC), That means the widow on the Bench and the owners of Vista Village have to pay for police, fire, and roads in Downtown.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Ya really depressed me with that last line there, DF

    EDITOR NOTE– Don, I understand your grief. Sometimes we have to make it personal in order to make a point.

  2. My first question would be this, is the 150K per “product” or are they guessing that would be the total amount for next year? Either way it makes no sense, if it is per apartment, just how much are the apartments going to sell for? Aspen lofts has a listing for a1br 1 bath 500sq ft condo listed at 205k, sounds like these “young professionals” had better be pretty upwardly mobile or the grants must be for the full 150k considering Boise’s ridiculously low wages. If the 150k is the total for the year it does not seem like much of an enticement. Second how does the city think they are going to limit this to “young professionals” I would think that anti discrimination rules would not allow them to target who they will give loan guarantees and grants too.
    Your question about housing offenders makes much more sense to me. What do you think the overwhelming response of the people living in the 200k to 3.5 mil apartments if your idea was adopted and apartments for “those type people” are built down town? I think we all know what the answer to that question will be and it will not be a pleasant one. I really think that downtown is crowded enough as it is. I really think trying to move more people into the area when traffic lanes will be permanently taken away for bike lanes soon is just another in a line of bad ideas to come out of city hall.

  3. “Whether they are aware or not, Boise officials are creating a huge split between BENCH and VALLEY RESIDENTS (Northenders). The obsession with downtown businesses, transit center, trolley, bike lanes, and specialized police and fire units, comes at the expense of Bench residents.”

    This might be my favorite thing you’ve written since I started reading this blog.

  4. Guardian, it is not Bench vs Downtown. It is Downtown vs the rest of Boise.
    Where is SW Boise in your analysis, West Boise? And there is more than one refugee deposit within the city limits, not just Latah.

    I know you know the CCDC ins-and- outs well, but the last point I think is a bit off. Since it is the increase in property taxes that stays in Downtown, I’m sure there is some in the baseline assessments still going to pay police, fire and roads for the general pool of the rest of Boise. It certainly is an unequal system though.

    Just look at the fancy improvements to Downtown, then look at Fairview Avenue.

    EDITOR NOTE–I was very careful to be correct. NONE of the tax on new improvements or appreciated value goes to the city, county, ACHD, schools. For example: I believe the base on the Zion Bank building is under $300,000. Same is true for the Grove Hotel…their taxes for value above that low base all goes to CCDC until 2017.

  5. Apparently some of the readers are not aware of the previous housing DEALS offered ONLY to teachers, police and firefighting employees.

    “Targeted” is a much more palatable word than “discriminating”.

    EDITOR NOTE–Those offers were nationwide from the Feds and we agree with you!

  6. For the Note– for Zions, right but the tax paid on the 300,000 base goes into the “general pot” correct?

    EDITOR NOTE–Correct. That amounts to about what you pay on your house without the homeowners exemption…on $20,000,000 (or whatever the amount) valuation.

  7. Eaglewriter
    Jun 9, 2014, 7:19 am

    We currently love going into downtown Boise. If you increase the noise and distractions with added bus traffic, streetcars or rail, and we’ll stop dining on sidewalks. Move 1,000 people into downtown condos or apartments making “downtown” their “neighborhood” and it will lose its attraction. We’ll simply stay on Eagle and Old State.

    These constant attempts to turn downtown Boise into something its users don’t want will kill the golden goose.

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