Garden City Idaho, purposefully not Boise

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Photo of Garden City resident Louie Gee delivering produce. Retrieved from on 4/4/2014

Unlike any of the cities neighboring Boise Idaho, Garden City was established specifically to NOT be Boise. Most cities are formally incorporated in a routine fashion; sometime after a number of homes are built, a community begins to form, and neighbors reach a point at which they decide to establish their own city. But when the City of Boise passed a law which prohibited gambling, a few of its residents went across the river outside of the city limits, and created their own city with its own laws. In no time at all several nightclubs, pool halls, and restaurants were built and filled with slot machines. These new business were soon very popular and very busy, mostly filled by Boise’s residents.

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Is Idaho planning with Latinos in mind?

Planning in Idaho has historically neglected immigrant populations. The most notable instance of this is exemplified by the way Chinese immigrants were treated in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. The details of the mistakes made by Idaho in terms of Chinese populations is detailed in a blog by Stephanie Leonard. Planning has only recently begun catering to immigrant populations, but there is still room for improvement, especially in Idaho. The Latino population is the fastest growing segment of Idaho’s populous. It is important for Idaho to cater to this group and foster relationships early to create a positive relationship for future growth.

chinese gardner

accessed 4/4/2014,

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You mean that old gravel pit?

The Hyatt Wetlands Reserve located in western Boise, encompasses 44 acres of a beautiful, majestic nature reserve sheltered from the bustling traffic and urban development surrounding it. The reserve offers refuge for not only wildlife in the area, but for people as well. Residents from all over the Treasure Valley flock to the area to observe the dozens of bird species that call this little pocket of Boise home.  The reserve’s trails crisscross the land, weaving along cattail filled pools and scaling up to scenic overlooks providing extravagant views of this urban oasis. The reserve allows runners, hikers and birdwatchers the opportunity to escape the suburban world around them and enjoy the natural setting that was once paramount in the area.  Enhancing the quality of life is not the reserves only benefit; it also serves as a storm water treatment facility. The facility filters out pollutants created by surrounding road networks into clean, safe water. The decontaminated water is ultimately then channeled into the Boise River. The reserves apparent widespread success – not only to the environment, but also for Treasure Valley residents- deserves a review of how it came to be. Especially, as it wasn’t until 2012 that this wild, yet urban wetlands was fully realized by the city.
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The forgotten and discarded Chinese: Idaho’s version



Throughout planning history it has not been uncommon to “forget” certain groups of people. In fact, throughout the United States’ history this has been recurring, both within the planning profession as well as outside it. Idaho was not left out in exercising this trend. Idaho’s planning history, although short in comparison to other American cities, has experienced its share of ebbs and flows, successes and failures. Embracing diversity and equity planning, especially in regard to the Chinese immigrants of the area, has not been among Idaho’s triumphs. Continue reading

Looking at Boise, historically, currently, and geospatially.

Boise Rendering, Google Earth 2013

Boise Rendering, Google Earth 2013

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, when you combine pictures from multiple eras focusing on the same thing, the differences (or similarities) can speak volumes for themselves. In this video blog below, I wanted to draw attention to an area that I feel needs some serious TLC on the development side. While there are likely reasons, stories – or even excuses – as to why these areas are undeveloped after so long, it seemed quite logical to use some of the free technological tools at our disposal to make an argument or two. First, is that 30 years is far to long for a parcel in a downtown area to be a dirt plot, and second, the main high-speed entrance to the downtown area should be a welcome sign, not a brown, dusty parking lot. Continue reading

Boise’s Interurban rail system


Photo retrieved from on 3/7/2014

From 1891 to 1928 the cities of Boise and its neighbors shared a rail system which provided convenient and affordable transportation from one town to the next. The rail system was very popular and not only provided citizens transportation from one city to the next and within the city, but was also a means for citizens to access recreational opportunities outside of town. Places a short ride into the country like Pierce Park, located by the Boise River where Plantation Golf Course it today, and Eagle Island, were popular destinations for picnics and boaters.

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In Boise’s Collister neighborhood, subdivisions and shifting land use


The Sycamore Neighborhood, a district of large lots within the larger Collister Neighborhood Association Boundaries. In red, the “Collister Center” shopping development. In yellow, the approximate site of Dr. Collister’s 20-bedroom mansion (now the site of Boise City Fire Station No. 9). City of Boise Advanced Property Research. Accessed 3/8/2014.

Water and agriculture played prominent roles in fostering growth in the Collister neighborhood, a bucolic ‘burb nestled against Boise’s foothills. But it was through transportation and urbanization, through an electric streetcar line threaded through Collister Station, mixed with an influx of business and new residents, that later solidified the characteristics of this unique area.

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