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Foothills Buildings

Beginning in the 1950s, technology advances in earth moving equipment allowed people to build homes and live in new places, including steep hillsides and wetland areas. In many parts of the West, this new technology meant a move out of the downtown urban core and into the surrounding hillsides. Gradually in the 1950s, then dramatically in the 1960s, Boise followed this trend. Some of the first foothills subdivisions were Lancaster Terrace off of Hill Road in the north foothills, Aldape Heights in the central east foothills, and Boise Heights in the north central foothills. The various stages of the Highlands subdivision in Boise’s north foothills came soon after. Early foothills homes were primarily single story ranch style, although some were split levels. The styles reflected America’s turn inward toward the family unit during the Cold War, with the living room and hearth centrally located, and garages attached so that a resident could directly enter the home. The homes were built on steep hillsides that had been cleared and leveled to create a flat lot for building. Most homes were built directly into the hillsides, with sagebrush and other highly flammable vegetation left to grow wild right outside the lots. Sewage was handled in the early days with septic tanks, and sidewalks for pedestrians were nonexistent. As the pace of foothills building accelerated on land that lay primarily under Ada County jurisdiction, the city of Boise began to annex much of this land in order to have better control over safety measures for building in these areas, some of which were on active landslides or in fire-prone areas. Later, an “area of impact” agreement was created between the city and the county so that the city could control construction in these ecologically sensitive regions. Foothills building has continued to the present day, although building restrictions have slowed the pace considerably. Newer neighborhoods such as Terra Nativa in the Foothills East area and Somerset Heights in the north central foothills represent some of the tonier areas of Boise and surrounding areas. Construction on the ridgelines is no longer tolerated by the city, and a high percentage of open space is preserved throughout many of these newer developments. By Jennifer Stevens of SHRABOISE.com

 
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