City Government

Boise Seeks To Make Public Land Available To Speculator

In an effort to feed the growth machine and urban sprawl, the City of Boise is proposing to make public land intended for the future Murgoitio Park available to real estate speculators.

About 160 acres of public land south of Victory between S. Cole and S. Maple Grove owned by Boise City are targeted for a land swap, which would rob SW Boise of its promised open space to add more acres for the North End Foothills crowd. Not only will SW Boise lose public open space, it will increase demand for city services in the area south of Victory between S. Cole and S. Maple Grove. The City claims they do not have the money necessary to green up the park space, even though they have collected park impact fees from residents of SW Boise and the Area of Impact for years, and while the City is actively building and remodeling new parks in downtown and along the river.

Boise would annex the land and enter into a trade deal that will benefit a developer. Land swaps are used to get around the Idaho Code legal requirements of declaring property to be “surplus” and selling it at public auction to the highest bidder. Land swaps get around the law and allow the City to determine who will get the public land. In this case the City has already met with the developer and worked out a back door deal out of sight of the public. When asked by the Neighborhood Association who the developer was, the City refused to identify them.

First step in converting the open space to rooftops is a virtual Zoom meeting June 17 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Information can be found HERE

The GUARDIAN has been a long time advocate of OPEN SPACE and conservation easements for all areas of the city–not just the foothills. As a GROWTHOPHOBE, we feel the idea of swapping land, increasing population, assisting a developer, and increasing demand for services to be repugnant.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Seems like here’s a million dollars that could be better spent at the SW Boise property building a promised park.

    Are there airport landing or take-off noise issues with this property that would make it a poor fit for housing?

  2. Just Politics
    Jun 11, 2021, 11:22 pm

    Punishing those who will never vote for her. Money will be spent in north end as reward. Team Dave 2.0

  3. Yet the City just joined the 30×30 campaign to protect land and water. What a bunch of double-dealers. Save all kinds of land in the foothills and the east end of town, but sell this parcel for rooftop revenue after having collected Park Impact Fees since 1995 and then spent them everywhere else but here.

    From the City’s website page:

    The City of Boise is proud to join leading conservation organizations, National Geographic, the Biden-Harris administration, and other government agencies in a global effort to support our environment. This effort is called America the Beautiful. The goal is to conserve at least 30 percent of land and water all over the world by 2030. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but one that will help protect clean drinking water sources, combat the negative impacts of climate change, protect endangered species and more.

  4. That park was apparently never more than a cynical bribe to SW residents to minimize opposition to the forced annexation in near that area in the early 2000s. The conceptual master plan has been available on the City as recently as a few months ago.

  5. Dave Kangas
    Jun 12, 2021, 7:09 am

    This is o very hypocritical of Boise. The only areas deserving of vast open space apparently is the north end. This is exactly what this area needs. 160 acres is a chunk of ground. I imagine selling 60-80 acres would create enough funding for a major attraction in this area. Very shortsighted. What would Boise be like today without Anne Morrison or Julia Davis??

  6. Garden City Cynic
    Jun 12, 2021, 7:12 am

    The homeless shelter pause was because of votes; the land swap brings in campaign contributions.

    The state is also contributing to valley growth and development. It just sold at auction two parcels of ag land in Caldwell to developers for $36 mil. That amount is over 6 times the appraised value of the land in 2020. HB389, which caps property tax budgets of local governments, will not deter growth. In reality, we will see that it benefits developers.

  7. Lee wassmuth
    Jun 12, 2021, 9:30 am

    The city of Boise has been promising this land to be a park for years while actually building more parks along river and in north Boise. We in SW boise need a park where we can let dogs run off leash and some larger hiking and walking areas. This land was taken off the market because of airport noise. It should not be developed but should be kept as a park area. Boise has many people other than in the rich areas and along the river. SW residents have been paying taxes for a large regional park for years. Keep your work Boise !!

  8. I am a neighbor to this property and oppose the potential landswap. This area has been originally set aside for an open space with recreational purposes for good reason. As more residential developments are added to the landscape, squeezing out open spaces is detrimental to our human populations as well as the natural environment. Although many more housing units are being added to SW Boise, we have significantly fewer parks and recreation spaces open to the public than other areas of the city. Promises are promises!

  9. Richard Llewelly
    Jun 12, 2021, 11:49 am

    When I first heard that Murgoito Park was on the chopping block, I thought it was a joke. When I heard further that it would be swapped for foothills land, I was sure it was political satire. I still can’t believe it. If Boise wants to torpedo future Foothill’s Levies or the broad support even from places far far from the North and East Ends where protecting the foothills is really protecting their backyards– this would be the way to do it.

    And that would be tragic. Boise has done a really good job of actively saving the foothills — not perfect, and yes, embedded in a political geography that also protects a few neighborhoods at the expense of the rest of Boise — but nonetheless, incredibly valuable.

    We should remember that protecting the foothills ultimately is a political (and good) decision. In the 1970’s, my family’s foothill parcels were suddenly appraised 100% higher and taxed accordingly, because the current leaders decided foothills were prime real estate. There really is no significant engineering barrier (not one that can’t be overcome with sufficient $$) to converting the foothills into more housing — the same rationales and excuses would be used that we currently hear for paving over our last farmlands — and soon will hear — for swapping this park.

    Yes, we will always need more housing as long as more and more people want to move here. Unsolvable problem. A real park for SW Boise? A solvable problem, and one that was thought to have long been solved.

    If a developer is attempting to leverage, ransom, or hold hostage their foothills holdings, then there are other options for Boise to take. We can’t rob Peter to pay Paul, especially when Peter will soon be bigger than Paul, and pissed off.

  10. David Klinger
    Jun 12, 2021, 5:02 pm

    Another justification for election of Boise City Council members by district, so that all sectors of the city get balanced representation. As long as there’s this imbalance in political representation, certain areas of the city will get short-changed, others will get rewarded. Boise voters need to treat the upcoming Council election this November as their last, best chance to introduce some equality of representation on their City Council and a more questioning attitude toward this sort of blatant favoritism, Good process doesn’t always guarantee good outcomes … but a skewed process will always result in inequitable results.

  11. We don’t know anything about this plan yet, or why the city thinks it’s a good trade. I see of lot of anger and hyperbole in the comments here but we know literally nothing except what one person posted on social media.

    I’m not going to rush to any judgment until after the zoom meeting where it gets presented in full.

    David K, I don’t think this is an argument for districts yet. I mean, what will you say if TJ Thomson votes in favor of it?

  12. Annexation has been fought in the SW like life depended on it. So why should Boise improve park land in unincorporated Ada Co. Can’t have it both ways.

    EDITOR NOTE–Wasn’t the promise of a park one of the elements used to quell the opposition to the massive annexation 10 years ago?

  13. Flowerchild
    Jun 12, 2021, 7:56 pm

    Boise has pushed density and housing into the area of impact for years through their comprehensive plan. All with the expectation they would annex. Boise planners often write in letters for developments in the AOI saying the city would like to see more density than proposed. The county has approved this based on the expectation of annexation. The AOI residents may have opposed annexation but the city can force the issue at any time. They have chosen not to based on financial reasons. Boise should take responsibility for what they have created in the AOI and keep the promise of that park.

  14. Flowerchild, I don’t understand what you’re saying but I would like to. Can you help me with a more detailed description of the historical practice (maybe with examples?) and how it ties to this park?

  15. Money goes where Council lives
    Jun 12, 2021, 8:55 pm

    Skeptic: TJ does not live anywhere near this parcel so he probably will vote to swap it, especially since he is not planning on running again so he has no risk involved. Meanwhile, he lives in The Bench area and a lot of money has been recently shuffled to this area in his last few years in office; Spaulding Ranch preservation and the other neighborhood parks near where he lives. I just don’t recall the name of these at the moment but I did look this up when budgets where done for these parks and impact fees were allocated.

  16. Annex SW & SE
    Jun 12, 2021, 9:02 pm

    The City has not annexed the SW or the rest of the SE Area of Impact (AOI) yet because they cannot afford to install the infrastructure, such as sewer, that they use to pay for in full as the enticement/incentive to the developers. They stopped that very expensive practice sometime around 2011 to 2013? – the Editor of this site probably has the exact date? The plan to annex comes up in the City record every few years and then it goes no where because they can’t afford to move forward but they really want the rooftop revenue. Meanwhile, the City has collected Park Impact Fees on all housing developed in the Area of Impact (AOI) since 1995, but has not used this money to green-up and add amenities to the parks in the AOI. They have spent it elsewhere.

  17. Yes. But quell it didn’t

  18. Annazon Facility
    Jun 13, 2021, 4:11 pm

    Team Dave 2.0 could sell it to Annazon so long as they use a portion of it for a massive homeless camp for their employees.

  19. Not keeping their word
    Jun 13, 2021, 4:44 pm

    If the city is not keeping their word that is a lack of predictable development.

  20. Glenda Randall S. Randall
    Jun 13, 2021, 10:49 pm

    We bought our home on the rim in 1997. Can you guess one major reason we purchased? Yes, the promise of a park and green space below us. Boise, the City of Trees! This promise was made years ago. We were sent three different options of design. Is Boise a city now only interested in creating green space for areas where individuals have more power and money to lobby and achieve their goals? Should we ever believe the word of local leadership?

  21. Just another example of the north end trying to rule the entire city. Taxation without representation!

  22. City Limits. Why is Boise Fire Station 17 is on the East piece of this parcel, Cole Road, and it is NOT within city limits? Are other Boise Fire stations not within Boise City limits?

    EDITOR NOTE–That station is a “joint” facility. Boise taxpayers pay the wages of ALL the firefighters on a contract and they have a deal with the Whitney Fire District to provide city-level services to the rural district. Whitney owns some of the fire engines and part of the station. Whitney has a chief with no firefighters. Not sure of current situation, but former Boise chief retired and then became Whitney chief. Whitney charges patrons less than Boise charges city residents and Boise provides the coverage.

    Last time we checked, Whitney paid Boise less than they tax their non-city resident patrons.

    (We welcome any clarification from those who are familiar with current status)

  23. Glenda: Yes. And no.

  24. The 2016–2021 contract with Boise City Fire says that if the City annexes the land, Boise is to purchase the station from Whitney F.D. within two years for $2,092,795.01 and Whitney paid for the managing and financing of this station.

    EDITOR NOTE–Thanks for the research info.

  25. Open space appears to be a problem for both the liberal Boise mayor and the conservative Eagle mayor. Eagle just sold 35 acres of once planned parkland at Floating Feather and Meridian Rd for $9 mil to a developer. In the KTVB article, Eagle mayor Pierce is quoted that he expects up to 70 new homes to be built on the parcel. This is really no surprise. Pierce’s campaign had strong financial support from the Avimor developers; Avimor is seeking annexation into Eagle.

  26. John Q Publique
    Jun 16, 2021, 9:56 pm

    The roughly 160 acre Murgoito property is in unincorporated Ada County and has been since its purchase by Boise City. Now the City wants to annex the property into the City along with the Boise School District property which also is in unincorporated Ada County.

    For about 30 years the Murgoito property has been touted as a future park site by Boise City and during that time the City has repeatedly stated it would not use City tax dollars to develop the property into a park until the surrounding area was annexed into the City.

    It might be interesting to see what conditions, if any, were imposed by the sellers on the City for the property, i.e., was it to be developed as a park, etc. That should be a matter of public record.

    The Murgoito property is about 3 miles west of the proposed Boise Airport third runway and appears to be directly in line with it. This area is already subject to aircraft noise as noted in Round One F-35 documents.

    The City has already purchased other land in the area for aircraft noise and safety abatement purposes so, as others have noted, why would the City allow homes to be built in an area which already has aircraft noise issues? Were aircraft noise and safety abatement issues part of the rationale to purchase the Murgoito property to begin with and, if so, were Federal tax dollars used for the purchase?

    The Boise School District property was purchased from Boise City in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Boise Airport had purchased that land before that timeline – most likely for aircraft noise and safety abatement purposes. That means our Federal tax dollars were likely used by Boise City for the purchase.

    A usual condition of receiving Federal monies is they have to be paid back to the Feds if the item they helped purchase is ever sold or transferred. Another item to raise questions about. Is there a payback to the Feds and, if so, how much is it?

  27. If any Gaurdian readers are surprised by this report,they must be new to the area! City of Boise Elected public servants decisions have been in favor of developers since Master Beiter and the Northend CamelToe Packers went to bed with BRA/CCDC. Elected public servant Lauren McClinger is Master Beiter in a dress?
    These continued actions by OUR elected public servants fuel the need for the public to have representation by City council members in the WHOLE OF THE CITY. Districting.
    I’d be surprised if any elected public servant has been to the area and wouldn’t be surprised that developer bought site unseen! From their home in CA!
    Sometimes I believe elected public servants divert our attention from the budget meetings taking place?

  28. Isn’t there density restriction zoning in the flight path? Has there also been an under the table promise to change that?

  29. Boise Model
    Jun 17, 2021, 3:04 pm

    Eagle just got something like 275,000 per acre for the park land they auctioned off.

    I don’t know if south Boise land would fetch the same per acre at auction but if it did that would yield over $40 million. That is a lot of foothills land.

    A land swap also helps the developer defer the tax gain on his foothills land. Nice jester by the City to further help the developer.

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