Idaho Growth Defies Logic


I have lived in Boise for 50 years. All but two of those years in the same house. I am the oldest guy on the block and number two for length of residency behind a neighbor who was born here.

I have pretty much lived my entire adult life in Boise and cannot think of anywhere else I want to live. That said, I witnessed unbridled growth, massive traffic impacts, urban sprawl and a constant effort on the part of city, county, and state politicos to increase population and then work to solve the problems they create through various incentives and public relation stunts designed to attract more people.

Annual smoke photo.

Our air is dirty all summer due to forest fires. We have inversions all winter. We rank in the top 10 states for minimum wage jobs. Teacher pay is near the bottom rung of the ladder. Housing costs are so high there is no “affordable housing” for the worker bees. West Ada School District has annual bond elections to build new schools. ACHD needs more cash for roads. Jails and prisons are stuffed full. We don’t have enough cops. There is a shortage of courtrooms and judges. The library is sub-par based on population. Gasoline cost is always above the national average. The legislature is practically a one party body. We rank low in kids going on to college and graduating…etc. etc.

This is all the result of a growth-oriented mentality that has altered–if not destroyed–our culture and the way of life we used to cherish.



Idaho is #7 for suicide rate according to CDC.
Idaho is in top 10 states for vehicle deaths according to INSURANCE INSTITUTE.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Clippityclop
    Aug 16, 2018, 12:35 pm

    Amen, brother!

    I have owned my house (make that the bank, county and me) in that order since 1967. Ada county was a nice area to live in. Look at it now. Ada and Canyon counties are just another California in the making. Local government seems to never have enough tax revenue in spite of new commercial, subdivision and apartment construction.

    Look at your county tax bill. Seems as if every government and school system has their hands in your pocket. Meanwhile those of us who have lived in and maintained our older homes are being taxed right out of them. Open space? Forget it. Maximum density and maximum profit for developers. Local government is controlled by developers and real estate folks.

    Attend meetings with city councils and ACHD, forget it. They pay lip service and then do what they want. We as tax payers are nothing more to them than sheep to be sheared (taxed) as they please.

    Replacing the current political folks may help. Usually though there are just more of the same ilk waiting in the wings for their chance to put their hands in the tax payers pocket.

    It would really be nice to get someone in office who cares about the quality of life in our area.

  3. Permission to speak freely sir?
    Aug 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    I read your list of complaints and I feel your pain, however let us move past this bitching. Let’s accomplish something for the greater good. You seem a bit distressed. I am too. Please consider you have far more power in this town than you realize? You even have the TV stations hijacking your story ideas. You are correct overall. Let’s build on that. Suggest you stop now with the nebulous complaining. Don’t go all Alex Jones on us, but stop, regroup, and get specific with undeniable facts. Consider who the greedy enemy is and who is just going along with the enemy because it is the easy path. Separate the two.

    People hear you, trust you, and know you are correct, but they just don’t know what to do. So they take the safe path and kiss the mayor’s ass. I suggest your posts include a well thought out strategic and tactical game plan for those who feel your pain but need leadership. Tell them who to call/write? What should they say? Who should they vote for?

    My personal opinion is the growth is being driven by terrible conditions in other states where people like Team Dave have been at work for two decades longer. And, also, all these bullshit stories in numerous lifestyle magazines about what a nirvana Boise is. People today have a five second attention span so keep it simple. I think the #1 way to put a stop to this growth is to get the word out worldwide that our air quality sucks most of the time (truth). I suggest you call in a favor with the NYT and WashPO to accomplish this task. Get a realistic picture of Boise into each of those glossy magazines.

    EDITOR NOTE–I have fought in the media, in court, at City Hall and eventually lost to the powers that be. All of the “bitch stories” came from local media and government sources.

  4. Hello Dave,
    I’ve been enjoying reading your articles for a long time now. I live in a suburb 50 miles from LA. My wife and I have lived here for our whole lives. We were very interested in moving to Eagle or nearby because it reminded us of what our town was 30 years ago. The nicest part was that we could sell our home and outright buy a new home with the equity alone.

    I know how that makes you feel because I can’t stand the people who flee from LA to our suburb and don’t respect our values, way of life, or other people in general. Some how they fled from their horrible town and were able to buy twice as much in our town. The developers bought off the people who swore to keep the slow growth in our area. We have the best land in the world for growing crops and now it’s being paved over for new homes. The citizens like us get nothing.

    BTW, since we are about 30 years ahead of you, I can tell you that that it only gets worse. You will get outnumbered and no one will care about you.
    My only suggestions are to enjoy what you have now. Also look for creative ways to make new taxes for all new developments that pay for all of Boise. Think of any way that original citizens will be exempt from any new taxes and the burden will be put on any newcomers.

    Make sure to visit sites like,, and to leave your review and include all of the negatives that you discussed earlier.
    Good luck.

  5. Idaho also trails almost all other states in number of physicians per capita, and this is getting even worse now with the population increasing.

  6. When I first searched for why people move to Idaho, nothing came up. Just somebody said because of gun freedoms and high speed limits on highways.
    Then I read that people like retiring here, because they like to live where they vacation.

    Then it turned out that it is a gradient in housing price between major California counties and Boise that is driving the trend of people moving here. Add to it a residential water crisis in S California in recent years.

    About25 % of Ada County jobs are in construction+utilities+ transportation = new housing.

    Basically building new houses is the major driver of growth. Also, Ada County gets half of national average for rain and snow, quite moderate climate.

    CBH homes and such are building homes for sale to Californians. They cannot issue enough new housing permits in So Cal because there is not enough residential water already.

    From online comments, it is a fad now in LA area to move to Idaho, people talk about it on the radio.

    All my new neighbors in Boise area are from California. Some moved here this year because their friends came last year.

    Idaho’s top politicians are real estate investors. Our senators Risch and Crapo are on Water rights, Housing and Finance committees. Our potential congressman Fulcher is a realtor.

    When Sen Risch was a governor he directed IDWR to figure out how to bring water to the barren desert between Boise and Mountain Home so it can be subdivided. There is a thick layer of basalt there that you cannot drill thru, or does not hold water. So a water company of Dave Bieter’s high school friend wanted to bring a massive pipe from Snake River. Except all the water there is already spoken for, just like in Boise river.

    It is a really bad setup for our politicians to subdivide and sell barren desert.
    Also our lifestyle here is not all that great, but it is better and cheaper than in major cities in USA.

    One other thing to know about Idaho’s quality of life – high suicide rate.

  7. My Two Cents
    Aug 16, 2018, 2:35 pm

    My humble opinion as to your complaints is that growth is not the issue; growth, in fact, takes an otherwise stagnant area and stimulates it. Poor governmental leadership is your problem here. I mean you complain about everything under the sun, including the inversion. Is the inversion the fault of Californians now too? I am not from California, but I am tired of all the whining about people coming here. Close your borders and this state will die as the economy and housing market etc. among others declines.

    The issue is that development has been done in an inappropriate sprawling fashion with virtually no honest oversight by P&Z; ACHD can’t figure out how to expand roads properly (e.g., the mess that is Eagle Road) to accommodate population increases, etc. Low wages are not the fault of newcomers; this state has always paid its workers badly. But please do not blame growth. Blame narrow-minded, unprogressive, terrible politicians (federal, state and local). I expect more critical thinking from you Mr. Frazier, not this wah wah wah Californians are ruing our world stuff.

    EDITOR NOTE–Two Cents, we never mentioned California! The question is WHY do people come here when we have bad air foisted upon us by Mother Nature and a litany of “Immediate Needs” declared by the politicos. We never blamed anyone for low wages. Give us some answers. How do your “narrow-minded, unprogressive, terrible politicians (federal, state and local)” remain in office?

  8. Sorry “My Two Cents”, growth is the problem. We have been perfectly happy with our stagnant town, thank you!

    Extolling the virtues of “smart growth” is like putting lipstick on a pig. Growth remains an ugly creature.

  9. Well there’s some sunshine.

    Pretty simple.
    In your own words Editor, “cannot think of anywhere else I want to live”

    When you can come up with a good alternative- Boise won’t continue to grow.

    BTW, we have too many cops though.

  10. Idaholc-“Perfectly happy with our stagnant town”? So you are okay with:

    * Education: 48th in the nation
    * School Spending: 49th in the nation
    * HS Graduation Rate: 40th
    * Benchmark formering collage and career readiness: 4/5 teens not meeting benchmark; only 20th are ready for college or career

    * Healthcare access: 39th
    * Adult wellness: 50th
    * Child wellness: 45th
    * Health insurance enrollment: 40th

    * Weekly Wages: 50%
    * Poverty: 36th
    * Household income: 36th
    * Public Transit: 45th

    I was born and raised here – but we cannot accept being near the bottom in critical areas of quality of life if we want our children to be successful. Growth is not not a black and white issue. In order to correct some of these issues, we need “smart growth” to create a tax base to improve education, healthcare, and wages.

  11. Sometimes our inversions are the fault of Californian’s fires! I believe OUR problem in the treasure valley is TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. I don’t believe any of the cities located here have council members from districts? Therefore when the mayor of Boise decides to spend $5 million on a study for free streetcar service in the downtown core there is no REPRESENTATIVE located out State street questioning his spending? Or when the mayor decides to solicit the F35’s at Boi airport no REPRESENTATIVE from the 83709 zip area asking why it would be OK to spend property owners monies to devalue their quality of life while promoting Boise as the most livable city?

    Then secondly the CONFLICT OF INTERESTS. Do the mayor of Boi and council members affiliated with the CCDC decide what is best for the whole of the city or the downtown core. THEIR ACTIONS FAVOR THE CCDC.
    You can’t bite the hand that feeds you!

  12. Growth is a problem
    Aug 17, 2018, 9:19 am

    Actually urbanization increases poverty rate and income inequality. So, no hope for the growth to solve existing problems. Growth only benefits businesses, because they can increase their operations. For a non business owner, and especially for people on fixed income, there is no benefit. More shopping and restaurant choices only make you spend more, i.e. have less money left.

    Cities have to remain growth neutral, because growth destroys where we live, trying to increase business profits. In fact the theory of growth states that the goal of growth is increasing rent from property. Yes, the government likes it because they collect more taxes, claiming the taxes will go to solve problems. But growth creates more problems than taxes can solve, because taxes have to be less than 100%.

  13. Why are we continuing to grow? How about those radio ads about moving to Idaho… in other states. I have been told of stations which play those ads every hour. Our taxes hard at work….. Was I the only person who was concerned about the real “product” to be sold when Buy Idaho started those many, many years ago?

    My mother and her family were born, raised and lived all of their lives here… as have I – other than that time I went to Eugene. I still wonder why I returned since I am not the party of choice in this red state.

    Thanks for your work Dave

  14. I’ve got a constructive idea for you all. For all of you Growthphobes, pitch in a couple of bucks to buy the domain name: available for only $7.99 on godaddy. Make a free website with wordpress. (your kids can help you).
    Title it “Moving to Boise?”
    Then mention all of the REAL details
    like the suicide rate and what IdahoNative mentioned.
    Then you can link all negative news stories articles at the bottom.

    BTW, this similar topic was in the Guardian back in 2008 with Avimor. Checkout those comments here:

  15. Boise had a great run. But it’s over.

  16. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not desirable because the long term outcome is societal, cultural and economic collapse.
    That “growth” they long for is actually a malignant tumor which only enriches the Oligarchs and their minions.
    It’s rather ironic that our Overlords make us worship the “Star Spangled Banner” when it is a song of secession from government; this in a time where government is becoming ever more non responsive and tyrannical toward its citizens. We really need to eliminate our current government at all levels and make a fresh start. It’s not fixable, it needs a total demolition Palace of Versailles style.

  17. I complain about Idaho often. Low wages, the high cost of living, zero fairness in the judicial system. (For another story sometime), but there is a “Good Old Boy’s” club here. And if you are not a part of it, you never stand a chance at a fair hearing in court.

    People, when I complain about Idaho, tend to say things like “To live in Idaho, you have to WANT to live here” or “Nature, and our quality of life is what we are here for.”

    Well, I was born here, raised here until the late 90’s when I moved to Seattle. Then I lived all over the country and traveled to several other countries. I came back here to be with family and now I don’t want to be here.

    I have a degree in a professional field, and I feel that my quality of life and my professional career would be far better if I moved to another state. Even in Oregon, the base wage for my field would increase by about 30k a year. Cost of living is about the same. So, I am seriously planning on leaving. And I know that I am not the only one who is planning on doing so.

    Idaho is on a growth spurt. But this is not sustainable, nor will it end with Idaho’s best interests. This will cause heartache and pain. And there will be few working professionals here to help clean up the mess.

  18. AMEN!!!!

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