Growthophobe Movement Growing


As the Ada County Assessor sends out property value notices this week, we note the values in some areas are up 20%. That can be good news and bad news.

IF you are selling, its good news. If you are on a fixed income chances are your overall property tax bill will increase, thus taking a bigger chunk of your cash flow.

We constantly hear the refrain, “You can’t stop growth. We can’t build a Trump wall around the state.” True, but it is high time for the politicos at all levels to listen to the citizens and stop PAYING businesses to move here by offering all sorts of “incentives” and tax breaks. Steep impact fees for all services would be a step in the right direction.

We hear complaints about “lack of planning.” Things have been planned for years. Vast areas of Ada county were zoned and designated as “agricultural” land. The taxes on this land were minimal and they had no reasonable expectation of being rezoned for mega sized apartment complexes or subdivisions.

Just as a home owner in a residential subdivision shouldn’t expect to have land rezoned for a factory or commercial use, open space should not be fair game for developers.

The agencies that get the most unfair pressure under the current system are the fire districts, schools and highway districts. While they have no veto power over development, they have to respond to the growth and provide services. Citizens fed up with tax hikes often turn down bond proposals out of frustration.

Eagle officials have decided to increase population density, authorizing downtown apartment structures. Citizens who thought they had moved into a quiet, quaint community are opposed. See the IDAHO STATESMAN story.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Navillus.55
    May 24, 2019, 2:20 pm

    All the folks who celebrate growth don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. I was born in a nice neighborhood on the far North side of Chicago just two blocks from the beach at Lake Michigan and later, married a man who grew up on a farm by Caldwell. In 1970, he wanted to move back here and we bought a 2750 square foot house by Mountain View Drive for $30,000.00. Yep, that’s right, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large den, and all on a half acre! In the years since, I’ve watched Boise and the surrounding communities grow by leaps and bounds until I’m almost afraid to drive to the grocery store because of the constant traffic. Think ahead twenty-plus years… Is this what you want for your grandchildren? The neighborhood in Chicago I left behind is now controlled by the LOC Gangster Disciples – people don’t even sit near their windows for fear of being hit by stray bullets. Gangs are fighting back and forth almost constantly and no one would ever think of walking to a store in the afternoon or early evening. Remember, it always starts gradually and then you’re in the midst of a disaster! Please stop all this growth and stop it right now…

  2. Eamonn Harter
    May 24, 2019, 4:12 pm

    One byproduct of this will be that a rise in property tax will help accelerate the bursting of the current housing bubble because it will serve as a de facto rise in mortgage interest rates. Unfortunately property tax must be paid by everyone regardless of age, employment status, net worth, or length of ownership of a given property.

    The apartment “multifamily” boom has taken place nationwide (and even worldwide in places like Australia and Canada). I would like to know how the cap rates are panning out for the investors in these apartment blocks locally. It can’t be all that great with likely much greater supply than demand and the associated vacancies. Maybe the plan is to develop and then sell them off to gullible suckers in REITs (real estate investment trusts) who are desperately searching for yield.

  3. Food for thought—What’s happening to Boise resembles, in miniature, what’s happened in the San Francisco Bay Area:

  4. Richard A Evensen
    May 24, 2019, 5:31 pm

    “Vast areas of Ada county were zoned and designated as “agricultural” land. The taxes on this land were minimal and they had no reasonable expectation of being rezoned for mega sized apartment complexes or subdivisions.

    Just as a home owner in a residential subdivision shouldn’t expect to have land rezoned for a factory or commercial use, open space should not be fair game for developers.”

    This is grossly inaccurate.It has been landowners/farmers who have demanded rezoning to get GIGANTIC profits from the increased value of their land. Nobody held a gun to the heads of landowners. Their land became a means of providing a very comfortable retirement that selling the farm to a relative could never provide.

    They are now trying to get our ridiculously pro farmer/rancher legislature to implement scams where taxpayers will pay landowners a sum nearly equal to what they could have sold for. They then turn around and actually sell it to a family member for a pittance. Cry me a river.

    EDITOR NOTE–Richard, we actually agree. The farmer can profit only when the land is rezoned, hence worth the much higher rate. The foot note on that issue is always, “you can’t dictate how someone uses their land.”

  5. The Local Land Use Planning Act (LLUPA, Idaho Code 67–65) is meant to provide municipalities with the ability to manage growth by including an evaluation of what they can provide in services and infrastructure. Specifically, section 67–6511 (2)(a) on zoning states: “Particular consideration shall be given to the effects of any proposed zone change upon the delivery of services by any political subdivision providing services, including school districts, within the planning jurisdiction.”

    Yet developer seek a rezone request for higher density while the undue burden placed on the provision of services – whether this be roads, schools, fire, police – is disregarded nearly every time. When a City Council is a part-time job and the system has been heavily influenced (co-opted, corrupted) by having a developer lead the show, you end up with the mess that is now occurring.

  6. Boise musician
    May 24, 2019, 5:58 pm

    In the Idaho Statesman story, the Eagle mayor justifies his decisions,saying, “With all due respect to Former Mayor Merrill, when she left office Eagle’s population was about half of what it is today…”

    Is he oblivious to the fact that it is that very growth his residents are opposed to? And his answer is to favor more growth?

  7. All due respect
    May 24, 2019, 7:14 pm

    Because council is part time is not a reason to be sheep. It is more a reason to say no if necessary, because if they lose the job, they lose little. Farmers kids are too busy looking at their phones to be able to farm. Very few pursue education seriously. After farmers pull all their dirty tricks, their next generation will regret it and curse them and spit on their graves. “Sorry sonny that Grandpa was so greedy. Now you have to get a job.”

  8. Foothills Rider
    May 24, 2019, 7:22 pm

    This and other articles, as well as recent additions to the pool of elected politicos, have me wonder why we don’t explore a Town Manager position and change how we run Boise. We have outgrown the size of a town that can be run by a(n) elected official(s) who may have minimal experience, or who lean towards their political bias.

    General overview (wiki):

    As the top appointed official in the city, the city manager is typically responsible for most if not all of the day-to-day administrative operations of the municipality, in addition to other expectations.

    Some of the basic roles,
    responsibilities, and powers of a city manager include:

    Supervision of day-to-day operations of all city departments and staff through department heads;
    Oversight of all recruitment, dismissal, disciplining and suspensions;
    Preparation, monitoring, and execution of the city budget, which includes submitting each year to the council a proposed budget package with options and recommendations for its consideration and possible approval;
    Main technical advisor to the council on overall governmental operations;
    Public relations, such as meeting with citizens, citizen groups, businesses, and other stakeholders (the presence of a mayor may alter this function somewhat);
    Operating the city with a professional understanding of how all city functions operate together to their best effect;
    Attends all council meetings, but does not have any voting rights.
    Additional duties that may be assigned by the council.

  9. The only agenda of the growth promoters is to increase rent from their real property. So where you see high growth rate, you will always see land appreciation and rent increase.

    Local taxes always increase because of growth to pay for the new services. They only way to keep taxes from growing is to increase impact fees until new growth pays for itself at the development/construction stage. This will also slow down the growth rate, and so it is not likely to happen. To people not vested in growth, the only benefit of growth is more shopping and dining opportunities, i.e. more “opportunities” to spend money!

    As to growth bringing more jobs, this is questionable, since people who move here are likely to take up the new jobs. Maybe more construction and service jobs (which are easily created and lost with the boom/bust cycle). A recent economic analysis pointed out that to be self sustaining, the state’s economy has to produce smth substantial for trade.

    And paying businesses in incentives and tax breaks is not a sustainable economic model – some called it a Ponzi scheme. Statistically growth has more downside than upside, anybody who ever visited a big city knows that.

  10. It’s interesting to hear the arguments against growth and how to slow it down. If you increase impacts fees the cost of new construction goes up. This increase places greater demand on existing homes and those prices rapidly increase as do their property taxes(supply and demand). Impact fees or CID’s taxes on new developments should be increased or created though. The new developments place a huge demand on existing infrastructure forcing long time residents to pay more. Also, it is realistically only at the rezone level that local residents, communities have an opportunity to influence or fight new development proposals. However,these happen so early in the process that most people ignore or are not aware of those hearings.

  11. The advocates of this growth model always want you to see the property value side of this equation to bolster their position vs the higher prop tax and social impact positions. What has happened in this “easy credit” scam, sold to America in the 1970s to current, is the fact that ALL anyone has to show for their $$ invested in their homes is the “market value” which is actually a deception.

    These prices are NOT reflective of the correct value that they should represent. Printed $$ by the Central Bank model has artificially exploded the price of property. Unless you have an income that is also inflated by this artificial system, then you are forced to accept this scam. If you can’t afford to buy into this scam, then you pay exorbitant rent to the same scam. IF we had a truly free market and sound currency system, this scam would never have survived its first breath. It has had decades to create its own facade as a legit practice, allowing politicians to exploit the ramifications for their own means and ends. Today, socialism is the mantra to “fix” the problems. More government largesse. AOC gets the megaphone.

    As a former Leftist, I can see how people swallow all this up with a giant spoon. Oh, so clever.

    RE the farmers’ dilemma. The model I describe created the situation that force farmers to give up their noble industry at the small scale and play the same damned game. This leaves food production to the mega farms that write the rules to protect themselves. Evensen plays a tired canard trick to dismiss the argument presented. Not gonna work on me, buddy. I’ve seen all the tricks and I don’t fall for them anymore.

  12. After checking the Ada County Assessor site, I see that my property taxes went up 28%. In one year.

    This is just crazy! Wages here certainly aren’t increasing at this rate. I wonder if I will be able to retire in the house that I love, or if I’ll be forced to sell it because Ada County will have pinched too much from my wallet.

    And, what am I getting for this 28% tax increase? More traffic? More crime? More homeless people? And many other big city problems.

    No thanks.

  13. Insert: Are you sure? Perhaps your assessment has gone up 28 percent. You won’t know your tax hike till all the taxing districts calculate their levy rates—city, county, ACHD, schools, mosquito-abatement, etc.

    For the past decade or so, Boise City has been taking the maximum allowable annual increase of three percent of assessed value plus growth (I’m not sure how growth is factored). Yet, the city is unable to keep up: Boise is out of compliance with emergency-response standards, especially in newly annexed areas like NW Boise. It’s either not collecting enough in impact fees or squandering our tax money on lower priority projects: Stadium? Library!—or both.

    ACHD, for instance, has resisted taking the max hike but may have to in the near future to keep up with growth. I don’t know about the other districts.

    A couple things exacerbate the situation for residential taxpayers. The maximum, homeowner’s exemption has been stuck at $100,000 for a decade; so homeowners are increasingly subsidizing commercial and industrial property owners. Also, the city’s growing appetite for urban “renewal” districts forces taxpayers in other areas to subsidize the growth in those districts. About 3,000 acres were added to CCDC this past year or so.

    EDITOR NOTE–True on all counts. While the LEVY RATES” have actually gone down in some years, the overall tax bill of residents almost always increases. Growth does not pay for itself.

  14. Clippityclop
    May 25, 2019, 7:58 pm

    Boise/Ada County needs to take a page out of Boulder, CO playbook. They’ve got the handle on managing growth. Check it out.

  15. 3% Reduction
    May 25, 2019, 9:44 pm

    Maybe more people need to start asking the City to back off on the 3% annual increase when it is primarily paying for the annual base compensation increase for City employees each year. Take the time to watch a City Council Work Session that reviews the budget planning and listen to the finance department state this fact.

    The City could adjust it to a 1.5% amount every other year and City staff would have to cut back on their lifestyle just as the rest of us our doing while our tax burden increases.

  16. Rabula, regarding the city taking the maximum allowable budget increase and not being able to keep up. They have done so for each of the past five years and project doing so each of the next five years.

    During those past five years they realized revenue surpluses while increasing budgets and therefore taxes. At last years budget hearing it was pointed out that having revenue surpluses while raising taxes was embarrassing, so the city would change the way they make revenue projections so surpluses are not apparent.

    If wondering where the money goes, the City in February granted policemen a 4.5% increase retroactive to Oct. 1 and approved another 4.5% effective this coming Oct.1. Firemen got a 3.5% retroactive raise withe another 3.5% this next Oct. 1.

    And remember the 10 million they recently transferred to a new affordable housing account? Funny how the growthaphiles have caused folks to be priced out of housing and then obligate taxpayers to “solve” the problem.

  17. This is the best discussion ever on this website. Thanks Dave and all of those who participated. Excellent points made by all.

  18. Boise Budget & 3% Increase
    May 29, 2019, 2:03 pm

    Property tax assessment notices came in the mail today. Based on the major increase in the assessed value, the City of Boise will reap a windfall on this revenue alone. But will the Mayor and City Council still seek the annual 3% increase, based on the budget, that they have been taking each year? Not taking this, or at least reducing the percentage, is the tool they have to provide property tax relief to the citizens. The Mayor/CC do not set the assessed value, and the legislature has set the Homeowner Exemption Cap – which are the only other two aspects of the cost outcome. You can speak up about this – send comments or call the City Council Members now, while they are still in the planning stages.

    June 14 – Release draft budget
    June 25 – Budget Workshop @ 8:00am
    July 16 – Public hearing
    July 23 – First budget reading
    Aug 20 – Second budget reading
    Aug 27 – Third budget reading

  19. It’s a bit of double edge sword if the city doesn’t use the max 3% increase. If the city chooses a 1.5% increase the other 1.5% is “banked” as foregone taxes. Which means the city in the future could dip into the forgone tax bank AND take the max 3% that year.

    Foregone Property Tax Levies—Idaho Code 63-802 (1)(e)

    When a city chooses to levy less than the maximum allowed by law, the foregone amount accumulates and the city may add all or part of the foregone amount to its levy in any subsequent year. The city may increase its property tax levy by the foregone amount, plus any additional property tax increases permitted by law (including the 3 Percent Cap, plus new construction and annexation). There is no requirement for an election for recovering foregone levies; however, House Bill 474, passed by the 2016 Idaho Legislature, does set forth a process to be followed when a city uses foregone levying authority. First, the city council must adopt a resolution stating the governing board’s intent to use the foregone levying authority, the amount of foregone revenue to be included in the tax levy for that fiscal year, and the purpose for which the foregone revenue will be used. The governing board is also required to publish notice and hold a hearing on the foregone levy, which may be done in conjunction with the published notice and hearing on the annual budget. The resolution and public hearing must be done before the city certifies its property tax levy to the county using foregone levying authority. The city clerk must file a copy of the resolution with the county clerk and the Idaho Tax Commission. House Bill 474 takes effect July 1, 2016.

  20. Boise Budget & 3% Increase
    May 30, 2019, 6:44 pm

    Eric T. – That is very useful information. Thanks for providing this content. So maybe the question for electoral candidates is a binding promise to the citizens that while they are in office they will not choose to pile on foregone amount at some other date in time?

    Or a promise to use the 3% to begin correcting the inequities in services and amenities throughout the City, rather than just helping the City staff afford the cost of living increases that have occured due to growth and being the most popular kid in the country.

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