The Tribes of Idaho: A Missed Part of Idaho’s Planning Narrative

“I have created you Kootenai people to look after this beautiful land, to honor and guard and celebrate my creation here.”  — Kootenai peoples covenant with their creator, Quilxka Nupica

The Kootenai Valley, which includes Bonners Ferry and much of Boundary County. The land the Kootenia vowed to protect. Accessed from The Spokesman Review

The Kootenai Valley, which includes Bonners Ferry and much of Boundary County. The land the Kootenia vowed to protect. Accessed from The Spokesman Review

In 1974, tribal chair woman, Amy Trice, out of a desperate cry for help, declared war on the United States Government. This has gone down in Idaho’s history books as Idaho’s Forgotten War. Looking at this historically, through a planning lens the main issue is communication between jurisdictions. It seems as though the planning narrative in Idaho has missed the connection of this underrepresented group. In this blog I explore the reasons why tribes in Idaho are ignored, underrepresented, and in this case of the Kootenai, forgotten.

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From Ustick to West Valley: A Little Story of Big Oppurtunities

Figure 1- Plat of the Original townsite of Ustick, 1907. Accessed from Ada County Assessors Office, 3/1/14.

Plat of the Original town-site of Ustick, 1907. Accessed from Ada County Assessors Office, 3/1/14

The story of Boise is continuously tied to its agricultural roots. Apart of that story is the growth of city limits following World War II and the inevitable conversion from farmland to residential subdivisions. Before this change, was a story of persuasion.  The persuasion of living the good life.  The area west of Boise, most usually referred to as the West Valley, has a unique story and a story worth noting. West Valley’s history is agricultural in nature, and connecting that past with the future is important to its residents and to Boise. In current times, the West Valley area is known for its contribution to making Boise a sprawling city. This was not always the case. The area now known as west valley, was once a bustling fruit orchard. Harland Ustick,a business man and a doctor, founded what used to be known as the small town of Ustick. Ustick boasted having “the finest orchard in the Boise Valley.”  Through local newspaper advertisements and other means the town of Ustick became a desirable area. The area west of Boise was destined to become what it has turned into in last few decades, and is not so much a story of its change from agricultural to suburbia, but one of the evolving American dream. The plat above shows the original town site of Ustick as it was platted in 1907. In 1907, Ustick was one of the few areas that was actually cultivated in the West Valley area. Over the years, and through much persuasion, this area has transformed into the sprawling west side of Boise.

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A Review of Historic Preservation Planning

View north down Benefit Street in Providence, RI, USA, part of the College Hill Historic District, a National Historic Landmark District, accessed 2/17/14, Wikipedia

View north down Benefit Street in Providence, RI, USA, part of the College Hill Historic District, a National Historic Landmark District, accessed 2/17/14, Wikipedia

The wave of urban renewal as it was known during the 1950’s and 1960’s saw a lot of historic structures torn down. After the fact, many towns realized the importance of these historic structures.  Out of this era of urban renewal came the evolution of the historic district. There was a handful of cities that had their own form of historic preservation districts before the 1960’s. The first one being Charleston, South Carolina in 1931. What got the ball rolling was a study done by the Providence Preservation Society that was able to partner with the Providence City Plan Commission to produce a study of the College Hill area: 318 acres and 1700 buildings, including most of the city’s original 17th-century settlement. The resulting 1959 report — College Hill: A Demonstration Study of Historic Area Renewal — forwarded a new intent: “…to develop methods and techniques for a program of preservation, rehabilitation and renewal in a historic area which can serve as a guide for other areas with similar problems.” It was one of the only areas during the urban renewal era to decide to rehabilitate areas instead of clear areas of blight. Continue reading

A Comprehensive Thinker

Harland Bartholomew, AuthentiCity

Harland Bartholomew, AuthentiCity, accessed 2/1/14

Harland Bartholomew defined urban planning as a profession. Not only was he the nation’s first full time planner, but he also contributed ideas and theories that are still being debated in today’s planning profession. His ideas and theories centered on gaining a comprehensive knowledge about the city. Although he was a trained engineer his career was focused on urban planning issues; such as how transportation can shape the city. The principles of his ideas on where transportation systems should be placed are one of the most influential factors still affecting communities today. He had an influential reach on the practice of planning through several books on land use and zoning, a firm that he started which still practices, he also taught at the University of Illinois from 1920 to 1956. Besides defining the profession of planning, many of his ideas are still coming in handy to planners wanting to make a difference in their community. Looking at his legacy may reveal important information in the current situations that planners find themselves. One example of this is the neighborhood movement that planners are starting to place more importance on in recent years. Harland Bartholomew realized it years ago. Continue reading

Innovative bike paths

Innovative bike lanes are popping up all over the world. Many cities are working hard to get more people to ride their bikes over their cars. Not only can this help cut down carbon emissions, but it can create a safe environment for people to exercise and commute. There are many benefits for getting less people driving their cars, and some cities are doing it creatively.

britian bikelane

photo obtained from John Metcalph, Atlantic Cities

The Glowing Bike Lane-This bike lane in London has anti slip properties, saves money on energy bills, and creates a safer environment at night. Continue reading

A quantum leep for LEED

The latest version of LEED V4 was announced at the Green Building International Conference in late November 2013. The new version of LEED is contesting some of the critics who say LEED buildings are not doing their part in sustainability.  LEED v4 is described by Rick Fedrizzi, the CEO and president of USGBC as a “quantum leap”. One thing that LEED v4 is doing that it wasn’t doing before is looking at how buildings are actually preforming instead of just looking at design principles. From a sustainable perspective with economics, environment and equity the newly created LEED v4 seems to provide all three.  Continue reading

Fighting crime with community planning


The Metrocable over top the Santo Domingo barrio. Image by Steven Dale.

Medellin, Columbia was recently voted 2013 city of the year by Urban Land Institute for its groundbreaking innovations in urban design. This was quite the turnaround considering that it was once deemed the most dangerous city in the world due to the high homicide rate of 376 out of every 100,000 people. In New York that would be about 32,000 murders a year.  Medellin’s past is full of drug cartels, cocaine manufacturers and paramilitary violence. The turnaround is nothing short of miraculous, and with the help of urban design principles this once violent city has been turned into one of the most innovative thinking cities and an example for other burdened cities throughout South America. Continue reading