Thursday, May 27, 2010

Unused Property

ACHD owns a lot of property in Ada County. It was acquired over the years, and is still being acquired, when roads were widened. Much of it is not needed for future rights of way. ACHD staff is working through this inventory and is slowly but surely assessing which properties are surplus, which will be appraised and which will be offered for sale in the near future. However, there are a lot of property records to go through and clean up.

Later this summer, 8 more properties will be offered at auction and if they are not successfully sold, then they will continue to be on the market.

This still leaves a lot of property. If you are interested in a piece of land and find that ACHD owns it, you can accelerate the surplussing process by calling Chanon Romo, our Supervisor of Right of Way at 387-6275. Chanon also is in charge of leasing our property as well. There are many houses and office spaces which could be leased at very competitive prices. And every property sold or leased returns dollars to the taxpayers so it's in everyone's best interests to move on this area.

ACHD has a lot of vacant parcels, some big and some small. Many have access to water. Wouldn't it be great if they could be used as community gardens? ACHD has to maintain these parcels to keep them looking nice or at least decent. How much nicer would they look if they were used to grow vegetables and flowers. If you wish to pursue this idea, give me a call at 866-4068 or e-mail me at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Smile, You're on Candid Camera

ACHD has a network of cameras at various intersections around Ada County. In fact, you can view the various intersections on line. What you can't do, of course, is actually manipulate those cameras to see different views or closer or further away. That is a function of ACHD's traffic management center.

About three months ago, ACHD Commissioner's signed an agreement with the Ada County Sheriff's Office to allow the Ada County Dispatch Center to control the ACHD cameras after hours. The Sheriff felt this would be a valuable tool for them to provide enhanced law enforcement to the community.

Turns out they have some good examples of how using the cameras helped Ada County citizens.

Dispatchers witnessed a 3 on 1 battery in progress in front of one of the Boise downtown bars (a regular occurrence I understand). Dispatch was able to send the Boise Police Department during the incident who made the arrests and got the victim to the hospital.

Someone torched the old East Junior HS building recently. The dispatchers, using the cameras were able to direct the Boise Fire Department and call for extra help. This allowed dispatcher's to help the firefighters by having not only the audio, but the video as well.

There was a foot pursuit near St Luke's Hospital. Since we don't have helicopters in the Boise area, dispatchers followed the pursuee by camera and was able to help the police make the arrest.

It's nice that the taxpayers are getting their dollars stretched through cooperation.

If you run across a malfunctioning traffic signal, you can report that signal to I prefer however, to call the traffic management center directly at 387-6190. If the signal has the new controllers in place, oftentimes the signal can be restored instantaneously.

NOTE: If you used to have blog alerts and haven't been getting them lately, you'll need to sign up again. With the change in blog address, the blog alert has not kept up. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A New Director for ACHD

As you might know, ACHD will be getting a new director next year. Jay Schweitzer, the longest serving director ACHD has ever had (I think), is retiring in February 2011. Jay announced his retirement months ago to give the organization plenty of time to find a suitable replacement.

The Commission will be discussing the process in the coming week/s. It will be a national search so the word from personnel is that the process will be long and convoluted. Plus, with the economy the way it is, there is anticipation that there will be gazillions of applications.


However, I have some very rigid opinions on the whole thing. Elections for 2 commissioner seats will be held November 2010. Any time frame should include the possibility of new commissioner's participation in the selection of a new director. While this might make for interviews, and they can be by phone to begin with, over the holidays or soon thereafter, so be it.

I don't want to see taxpayers paying for 2 director salaries. While others on the Commission think that's not such a bad idea, I think that we have a fiduciary duty not to waste money. Whomever is chosen, I assume will be well qualified in management. We have good deputy directors and supervisors who can help lead the new director into the nuances of the agency. Jay's tenure does not need to overlap.

Commissioners must be the ones to choose the director. The buck stops with us, although you wouldn't know it from our "protocols". Theoretically under the "protocols", the director is the only employee out of a total agency employment of 300, to actually "work" for the Commission. What? Exactly. (Recently we got a new employee that replaced another employee. I asked who was replaced and why and when. This occurred 4 months ago, I never heard about it and was told that it was a "personnel" issue so the deputy director didn't know if they could tell me the particulars or not! So much for the buck stopping with us eh? Although if there was a major problem, you can bet that we'd be the responsible ones and not some staff member.) Anyway, the Commission must make the tough choices and do the drudge work and not leave it to the staff.

There was some talk about help with moving expenses and should we offer to buy someone's house? Buy someone's house? Thankfully, that one didn't get far but paying moving expenses is on the table and I have to wonder - why? Would we offer to pay someone's moving expenses for a planner or an inspector if they were coming from out of the area? Maybe I'm too parsimonious, but I think that if someone wants the job and applies for the job and gets the job, they should maybe think about how they'll get here to actually take the job. We are not head hunting here. We're putting out a job announcement and those who choose to can apply.

Should be interesting.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Good News, Good News and Bad News

Recently, George Alton, ACHD's Senior Pavement Management Technician, was awarded the Northwest Pavement Management Association's 2009 Pavement Manager of the Year. George took over ACHD's pavement management program in 1997 when it was little more than a database of what roads were under ACHD and what condition they were in. Since then, George has created a system of classifying the condition of roads in Ada County in order to select which roads will be paved, chipsealed, redone, etc, all with an eye towards minimizing costs and maximizing the public's resources.

Congratulations George.

For the second year in a row, ACHD has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officer's Association. This was due mainly to the efforts of ACHD's budget analyst Pat Heckman. Meeting the requirements for the award are quite rigorous and show that ACHD's budget is well done, well communicated and incorporates an operational plan to meet the goals, which in ACHD's case are maintenance of the roadway system, upgrading roads where appropriate and developing sidewalks, bike lanes, intelligent traffic light systems, etc.

Congratulations Pat.

The bad news? Pat Heckman has taken a job in Colorado and she'll be leaving ACHD at the end of May. She'll be missed but we're sure she'll continue to be as professional in her new job as she was for ACHD.

Good luck Pat.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Real Estate News in Ada County

My friend, Tony Drost from First Rate Property Management, posted this. Notwithstanding the "good" news recently about the economy "rebounding", this shows that real estate in Ada County is in for some tough times ahead.


I recently attended the SW Idaho Chapter of the National Association of Property Manager’s meeting with guest speakers from Title One. Their main point of discussion was that many Home Owners’ Associations were experiencing significant balance deficits due to foreclosed homes. They explained that unlike some neighboring states, once the home is foreclosed upon, the dollar amount due to the association is wiped clean. In addition to that information, they included some interesting data about REO/Bank Owned Property sales.

Below is a graph showing roughly 30% of all properties sold are bank owned properties. Now, what percentage of sales are short-sales would also be an interesting number? I can tell you that in March, 96% of the residential income properties were either an REO or short sale. Unfortunately these sales have hurt value.

Below is a graph showing the rate of Notice of Defaults (NODS) in both Ada and Canyon counties. A Notice of Default is one of the first actions taken when a person gets behind on their mortgage. If the property is foreclosed upon, it’s at least 6 months down the road before they foreclose. So based on the data, it appears to me that we can expect the market to remain soft for a good portion of 2010.