BSU Seeks To Wipe Out Boise Neighborhood

In an informative piece of local reporting, the STATESMAN informed us Sunday that Boise State University has expansion plans which could see the demise of the Southeast Neighborhood along Boise Ave.

In a nutshell: BSU officials want to increase the footprint of the school by 50 acres which would wipeout dozens of homes in the area adjacent to the campus to include Juanita St. and Boise Ave. Of course they also will close streets, including University. We are quickly losing the “small town charm” of our fair city and much of it is driven by BSU.
Administration building at Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, USA.
Even the Statesman headlines are bipolar on the subject. The print version says homes are in the path of “Progress.” The on-line version proclaims the expansion could “knock out a neighborhood.” Boise City has created a zoning classification called “university” to indicate areas of dead meat to feed the hungry educational beast called BSU.

Here are some points to ponder over the expansion of BSU.

–The university (like all schools) has a MARKETING department whose job is to SELL the school and attract students who will PAY–often at a huge debt cost–to attend the school. The idea is to grow forever, constantly adding to the “product.” If there is a demand for expansion, it is one that is created and fueled by BSU itself.

–The idea of the College of Western Idaho building an urban campus just a a few paddle strokes downstream from BSU makes no sense.
–Citizens of Boise pay an inordinate price to provide police, fire, and other services to BSU. The fire department responds to more than 150 calls a year and BSU pays nothing for the protection. Boise Police have full time police service at the school, but the fees paid are not sufficient to cover all the costs. While not part of the school, the station across Capital Blvd. which covers all the new apartments is a drain on police resources, directly connected to BSU. Two police stations several hundred yards apart is insane.

–ACHD won’t even talk about street closures because if BSU owns a street, ACHD has no authority (or responsibility).

While politicos love to tout the economic benefits of having more students, more traffic, more faculty, more sports fans, and more facilities, they forget to add more TAX-EXEMPT buildings. Those students, faculty, etc. also CONSUME vast amounts of services from police, fire, sewer, schools, and roads, but they don’t provide tax revenue to the city.

One doesn’t need a BSU degree in economics to figure out when you take property off the tax rolls and increase costs it is a losing proposition…for citizens of Boise.

Finally, the GUARDIAN predicts BSU will magically have some sort of “retirement” deal for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter when and if he finishes his term.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. In fairness, the Statesman is following reporting from October:

    EDITOR NOTE–Don, at least it was published! Three months old is still news to the Daily Paper in these tough times.
    Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Trevor D Hitchin
    Jan 3, 2016, 3:03 pm

    boise is just a dirty town.
    bieter must go. both of them.
    today not tomorrow.

  3. BPD provides LE services to BSU for a fee under a contract. They were the low bidders in 2004 taking over from the Sheriffs department. The current contract is up for renewal in 2016.

  4. Fran Ciarlo
    Jan 3, 2016, 4:35 pm

    Some very valid arguments presented. It is a huge sucker-upper of resources and I guess I question the return on our investment. Besides higher taxes, an entire neighborhood wiped out and the traffic snafu that is sure to follow. This needs to be questioned a bit more in depth

  5. Say Goodbye
    Jan 3, 2016, 6:18 pm

    Leaders in Boise have never been neighborhood friendly.

    They don’t listen at council meetings, they ignore testimony and data from neighborhoods…they simply don’t care. They give away some grant money each year just to offer a false sense of “we care”.

    Most of downtown is now under the control of people that live in Banbury and Eagle – they just see it as a money maker and Boise full of gullible people. Sadly not enough citizens care enough to vote out those responsible.

    BSU will get whatever it wants. Property taxes will increase and more will move out of Boise – – leaving only those that crave urban-ism and the control of it.

    EDITOR NOTE–Don’t forget former city councilor Dave Eberle. He moved to Garden City, but still has a seat on the CCDC, Boise’s urban renewal board.

  6. Janet Harman
    Jan 3, 2016, 7:48 pm

    Let’s not forget what they may do to Boise with the noise from the F35. They are not listening to the people on that issue, either.

  7. I am wondering why packing people into skyscrapers makes sense for office space, while schools need to sprawl out all over the city.
    Maybe they’ll finally give up on the dream of endless growth on a finite planet after the ‘Greatest Economic Collapse of 2016’, that is surely coming.

  8. Eagle Writer
    Jan 3, 2016, 8:03 pm

    BSU is very important to Boise City and to the valley. That said, “growth” with no clear eye on ROI is ill-serving. Show us how this plan will increase the economic efficiency of the university and lower student tuition and fees along with lowering state aid and they have an argument. It is more likely they intend to grow themselves (and us) broke.

    The secret sauce could be a huge influx of students trolleyed in from the homeless camps and refugee sanctuary villages taking advantage of President Obama’s free college for those who haven’t earned it…

  9. Bill Goodnight
    Jan 3, 2016, 11:31 pm

    Check the Albertson’s Stadium parking lot on the map in the Statesman. It is reduced to less than 50% it’s current size. Where will folks park?

  10. BSU- CWI

    St Lukes – St Als.

    Monsters eating up Boise.

  11. BSU has the same issues for growth that College of Idaho has: they are landlocked and can’t grow without absorbing surrounding housing.

    Two of my kids elected to go to U of I in Moscow and I was in a constant state of worry when they were commuting back and forth during the school year. If BSU expands, it will afford a local option for young people to go to school.

    I tend to think growth will more than offset the 50 acres BSU will buy at fair market value or more. The housing offset will increase the need for more and new housing in the Boise area. Residents will have their pockets full of cash and will probably buy homes in the Boise area. The tax base should be a null position to an increased tax base due to the demand for more housing.

  12. Yossarian_22
    Jan 4, 2016, 5:23 pm

    I really hate to see all of this “progress” that BSU is foisting on SE Boise. I was born and raised here and I don’t mind new things and nice changes, but this isn’t what I had in mind. I hate seeing old neighborhoods eaten up like what I see down there.

    And this non-profit tax exempt loophole is not sustainable for an institution that takes more than it gives. It’s not just BSU. This is from an article titled “How Parasitic Universities Drain Towns All Across America” that describes a nationwide problem….

    -“Unlike most forms of taxation, such as sales and income taxes, property taxes are not set by arbitrary rates decided by lawmakers or even taxpayers via referendums. Rather, the property tax is levied based on the amount of spending; as localities spend, the amount of property tax needed is automatically generated to pay for the level of revenue needed.

    Thus, local governments spend a lot of time assessing and evaluating properties so they can be sure they are taxing all of the taxable land. That last phrase is key—certain types of land are not allowed to be taxed per the law. The biggest category for exemption is land owned by nonprofits. Universities, hospitals and charitable organizations claim this status, which allows them to avoid property taxation.

    Because of how property tax rates are generated, the more land in a locality that is nontaxable because it is owned by a nonprofit, the higher tax rates are on the rest of the general population. Thus, not only are universities getting a valuable tax break, they’re actually driving up property taxes the rest of the population pays, often in some of the poorest locales in America.”

    And just to show what they are getting away with, listen to this….

    -““The endowments at Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, Dartmouth College, Harvard, and MIT — which collectively own $10.6 billion in tax-exempt real estate — would owe $235 million per year in property taxes if they were not tax-exempt,” the authors write, citing a study from the Tellus Institute.

    One of the epicenters of uproar over the university property tax exemption is New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University. The school’s endowment is $23.9 billion and it sits on land that has been assessed as having value of $2.5 billion, all of it tax-exempt.”

    All I can say is….wow!

  13. I have sat at many City Council meetings where the Council laments the loss of property tax to the expansion of St. Lukes, St. Als, BSU etc. But this is the same council that expands the airport, buys new city parks, buys foothill lands to preserve it from taxable development, and offers tax avoidance to businesses as incentives to come to Boise, all of which reduces the tax revenue and further burdens those who do pay.

    If the City was truly interested in leading by example they would sell and privatize (including the land) all the airport parking, city owned golf courses and City owned bare land or under-utilized land. The truth is the City is just fine with taking property off the tax roles when it is their choice, but they cry and complain when other qualified entities do the same.

  14. Angry_Floyd
    Jan 5, 2016, 9:53 pm

    I take issue with your claim that “One doesn’t need a BSU degree in economics to figure out when you take property off the tax rolls and increase costs it is a losing proposition…for citizens of Boise.” A quick Google search would have given you a long list of articles (by actual economists) which describe the great economic benefit a university provides to its community. The cost of taking the property off the tax rolls pales in comparison to the benefit to our community.

    EDITOR NOTE–Floyd, I stand by my comment. Take a look at the long comment below from Yossarian_22 detailing the negative impact on PROPERTY TAXES from New England schools. The growth issue relates to property taxes, not more business for restaurants and hotels. More residents–on or off campus– means more demand for services and infrastructure with LESS property tax base.

  15. The sad fact is that our elected officials could care less what we pay in property taxes. They simply don’t care about the load on the citizens.

    The ONLY factor that crosses there minds in this regard is if they “feel” THEY “need more” money so they can spend more. Then they thing about how to TAKE more – not give more back. They also “feel” they know how to spend our money better than we do.

    There is no other time they even give it a thought.

    That is what happens when you elect people that have no regard for others or their money. We see it at the national level as well.

  16. We will listen but it will not make a diffenence
    Jan 6, 2016, 6:53 pm

    Boise State University says it wants to de-emphasize long-term parts of its proposed 30-year master plan, focus on “essential near-term issues” and work with the city, neighbors and the public on both the longer-term plan.

    “Although we have spent over two years thoroughly vetting this plan, it is also important to us that our neighbors and constituencies are heard in the approval process,” wrote Associate President Michael Sumpter in a letter to the city on Tuesday (Jan. 5), two days after the Idaho This just from the daily rag….. the Statesman reported details of the plan in a story and maps.

    The Boise City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the master plan on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

    YOU BET THEY WILL “LISTEN” BUT IT WILL NOT CHANGE THEIR PLANS. Just like the city council and mayor.

  17. Fran Ciarlo
    Jan 7, 2016, 12:06 pm

    I have been reading and rereading the comments. This is another example of Bieter and the city council basically ignoring any part of Boise that isn’t downtown or the north end. They are mum on the issue of the F35 jets ruining the upper bench environment, basically making the whole place uninhabitable. and now this. I have seen my property taxes increase by over $500 in three years and this will just cause more increases as we take more homes off the tax rolls. I find the whole issue deplorable and frustrating.

  18. My property taxes last year: $2,100
    My property taxes this year: $3,000

    A 40% increase in property taxes.

    In comparison my pay raise last year was 2%.

    So I canceled cable TV and dropped one cell phone off the family plan. While admittedly a first world problem to reduce luxuries, the point is to afford ever increasing taxes which are increasing faster than my pay or even CPI, I have to reduce my quality of life, reduce spending on the things I want so I can give the government more of my pay.

    One of the basic expectations of being dedicated and productive, is that the quality of life will at least be maintained if not improved.

    While I am generally a fan of local control, I think it is time the State stepped in and saved us from a tax and spend Boise political machine and pass a law that property taxes can not increase more than CPI, or some other reasonable index. I understand the City and all governments, need more revenue, but it needs to kept in-line with the public’s ability to pay.

    EDITOR NOTE–JJ, there is already a 3% limit on city BUDGETS. The formula excludes “new construction so you often hear “3% plus the value of new construction.” The theory is that cities approve their budgets in August and then pass a LEVY to determine the RATE we all pay to cover the cost of government. The problem I see is when they reduce the number of taxable properties–like within CCDC urban renewal districts, city-owned rental facilities, state owned places like 10 Barrel Brewing, etc. Fewer people to split the costs combined with a 3% budget increase means higher taxes. The RATE often remains near static and the politicos make do because the VALUE of property increases, but is taxed at the same RATE.
    Hope this helps.

  19. Just Saying!
    Jan 7, 2016, 2:28 pm

    You get what you vote for. In this case, socialism.

    You just wait until BSU proclaims the need for you to pay for their expansion with additional property taxes like CWI does. You remember CWI? The school for people too stupid to attend BSU… not a block away from BSU. Look, CWI is on your taxes… because you voted for it! Why not BSU also?

    How many on here whimpering about BSU and Team Dave voted for Obama? Did you really think he would make his rich friends pay your bills? How do you think his friends got rich… you idiots!

  20. A great discussion offering many views on the leeching of residential tax rolls. But, I have a slightly different question.

    If the area gets rezoned to “University” from “Residential”; does that mean that there is only one potential buyer for area homes?
    If that sole buyer is suffering from budget constraints, can they force a sale at an artificially low arbitrary price for the public good?
    Can an eminent domain condemnation be forced if a public (administrator only) parking lot is deemed necessary?

  21. Just Saying!
    Jan 7, 2016, 3:36 pm

    jj said >> “I understand the City and all governments, need more revenue, but it needs to kept in-line with the public’s ability to pay.”

    What a ludicrous thing to “understand”. Why do they need more revenue? Why? They clearly do not.

    They clearly are expanding the scope, power, and spending of local government well beyond the original very basic purpose of local government. Team Dave won’t be happy until your taxes are on par or greater than big liberal cities. He wants wine sipping liberal sheep to flood Boise and push out those who recall the simpler low cost days. They want crime and poverty just like big liberal cities too. Anything for more power and money.

  22. @ Just Saying: Just like you and I, government needs more revenue to counter inflation. We can disassociate our opinions of the role of government and agree on the time value of money

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