An update on the nightmare housing development in Boise known as Terra Nativa. Homeowners were forced to abandon large homes in the Boise foothills because of a slow-moving landslide.
Ada County officials gave owners of the six most damaged homes on Alto Via Court property tax exemptions. Now, other residents in the same subdivision are asking for tax exemptions as well.
Five of the homeowners are suing the city, the Ada County Highway District and the developers, saying someone should have noticed the hillside was unstable before the houses were constructed.
But it’s this lawsuit that other residents in the neighborhood say is driving their property values down, and they want a tax break.
Paula Hawks-DeLuca says the stigma of the Alto Via lawsuit, the lawsuit itself and trespassers in the condemned homes have all driven down the price of her house.
“We have probably reported only one of every 50 incidents of trespassing that we have been witnessed to because we are downslope and we are able to see up,” said Hawks-DeLuca. “We called in a Keller-Williams realtor just to ask what in today's market would be our asking price and he came up with a number so low it shocked us.”
She is one of 19 residents in the Terra Nativa subdivision that has filed a property tax appeal.
“Our purpose today is just the evaluation of property taxes,” said Ada County Commissioner Dave Case.
Ada County assessors divided 60 surrounding homes into different zones, based on proximity of the landslide, terrain and potential impacts from the litigation.
“The entire subdivision will get some sort form of a deduction ranging anywhere from 25 percent down to 5 percent,” said Case.
Hawks De-Luca got a 25 percent reduction based on her newly-assessed home value and says it isn't enough.
“It’s about $270,000 higher than what a realtor in town thought should be our asking price to get foot traffic,” she said.
Hawks-DeLuca says she's discussing with her attorneys whether or not to file an appeal at the state level with the Board of Tax Appeals.
In the meantime, she hopes trespassers and on-lookers will leave the subdivision alone.
“I'm hoping that people just leave the area alone and don't just go gawking at the misfortune of others, these were real people, these were their real homes, they have had devastating financial consequences,” she said.
Boise City spokesman Mike Journee says a fence has been put up around the two most deteriorated homes in an attempt to keep trespassers out.
The city also ordered those two homes to be demolished at the owner’s expense back in May, but a protective order was filed, citing that the homes are evidence in the ongoing litigation.
That trial is expected to take place next year.