developers have discovered Idaho's Treasure
Valley. Right now, we have
p/c's in existence: Harris
Ranch in Boise, and Hidden Springs in Ada County. An
article dated October 11, 2006 told of an additional
applications in some stage of development in
- These communities
will absorb a total of
over 60,000 acres
Many of the developments
have not yet determined the number of homes they will build. The
Director of Ada County Development Services (ACDS) issued a
a minimum of 8 homes per net acre
in planned communities.
His formula is:
(open space + developed parks) = Net acreage
Net acreage x 8 units = minimum number of dwelling units
(Per Ada Co. Code,
a minimum of 10% of the land must be open space and a minimum of
10 acres of developed park per 1000 population.)
What does this
mean for a sustainable community?
Idaho Transportation Department (ITD)
is responsible for
highways--55, 21, 16, 44, and 84.
cannot accept "impact fees" from developers to
improve highways that need expansion because of new developments.
The Ada County Highway District (ACHD)
must maintain all city and county roadways. They can accept "impact
Since planned community inhabitants will be
as likely as anyone else to use roadways throughout the state and
county, just how far do those impact fees and roadway upgrades need
to go? See
for a more complete
2. Home Prices and Sales
Ada County saw phenomenal growth and
home price escalation from 2000-2006. It was one of the top five
fastest growing parts of the county in several of those years.
Developers saw what was happening here, and began to buy up large
tracts of land for planned communities to house all those new
There are several:
a. How long can that level of
There are extreme differences between the
population explosion figures used by developers in their economic
analyses of the future of the Treasure Valley, and those used by
, a consortium of
local government bodies created for long term regional planning. If
COMPASS, rather than the developers, is correct, we could
potentially end up with a series of half-built planned communities.
What happens to all the promises made if that occurs?
b. What will be the effect of
prices on existing homes?
A glut of new homes always curtails
the value of existing homes. This will curtail the equity for
existing homeowners, which may affect mortgage rates or equity loan
availability, and will make it difficult for current residents to
sell their homes. Lack of increase in home prices means that:
- new homes will not sell for as
high a price as projected by developers
- current home values will not rise as projected by local
and this will result in governments
not collecting property tax revenues as "projected" in order to pay
for the added infrastructure costs the new developments create. Who
will pay for these infrastructure costs? It seems the only way out
will be an increase in property tax rates for all of us.
c. What happens if planned
community developers do not adhere to promises they make during
Apparently, little to nothing--the Ada
County Code says that a review will be conducted after two years,
and if problems are found a public hearing will be held. That's it.
2004 periodic review of Hidden Springs
, Ada County's only
existing planned community,)
The Treasure Valley might have the
Boise River running through it, and the Snake River not far to the
south, but geologically, it is a desert. Our natural environment is
not lawns and rose gardens and deciduous trees--its sage brush.
There is a limited amount of water in the area. Unfortunately, the
aquifers in the foothills have not been well studied to date, since
they were only being tapped for a relatively small amount of
Department of Water Resources (IDWR) will need quite a bit of
funding to correctly determine the amount of available water. They
don't have it. Developers are paying consultants to do studies. As
Idaho looks to our neighbors to the south...Nevada, Arizona,
Colorado...and the problems they are having we water, we can only
assume that they didn't allow building "knowing" that there wasn't
enough water to support their new residents. We should learn from
their mistakes, and independently confirm that sufficient water
exists to support communities BEFORE they are built, not try to fix
a bad situation afterward.