Has Boise Lost Its Soul?

 When one of my recent columns asked readers for help tracking down a man who wanted to leave Boise 30 years ago because he thought it was getting too big, I figured the odds of finding him were about the same as those of finding Slim the cockatiel.

  Slim, a Woodward family pet, flew out an open door and into the sunset more than 20 years ago. 

  The name of the man who thought Boise was too big is Don Taylor. According to howmanyofme.com. there are 649 Don Taylors in the U.S.

  Long odds against finding him. And after three decades and counting, there was no guarantee that he was even alive. 

  So you can imagine my surprise when he emailed me. a relative and a friend of his hand read the column and told him I was trying to find him. 

  Taylor, 71, grew up in Boise when its population was 35,000, roughly 15 percent of what it is now. There were two tall buildings, and one of them was the Statehouse. Traffic was non-existent. Anything west of Curtis Road was considered rural. He and his family lived on a  farm that’s now part of Interstate 84.

  Disillusioned by how much the city had changed since then, he dreamed of moving to a small town with “a sense of community, a phone book less than half an inch thick, no traffic-watch planes and no mall.”

  Did that happen?

  Did he in fact move to a smaller town?

  If so, how have things worked out there?

  Does he ever return to Boise, and if so what’s his take on it today?

  It turns out that Taylor and his wife, Jacque, did in fact move to their dream town. It just took about 25 years longer than expected.

  “We had three young kids, and we had to get the kids raised before we moved,” he said. 

  Their dream town?

  Nehalem, Ore. They moved there in 2016. 

  “We’d gone there on our first family vacation with the kids and fell in love with the place,” he said. “We finally moved there five and half years ago when we retired.”

  Nehalem is on the Oregon Coast. Its population, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates, is 303.

  “They call it a town, but to me it’s more of a village. It’s a river town, a fishing and logging town. Things don’t change much in Nehalem. They built some nice pickle ball courts recently. That’s about the only thing that’s changed in the time we’ve lived there.”

  Is tiny Nehalem what they were hoping for when the Taylors left booming Boise? Are they happy there?

  “Very happy,” he replied. “We just love it.”

  Jacque Taylor says she feels “perfectly at home in Nehalem. No traffic, noise, sky or air pollution. That’s a huge plus. And we felt a sense of community from the get-go. … We went to our local Grange yesterday for a Christmas bazaar and ran into so many people we know. That used to happen in Boise, but not any more.”

  Their oldest daughter was nine when the Taylors discovered Nehalem during the family vacation, in 1991. She was so taken by the place that she wanted to be married there. 

  And she was, in 2006. She and her family now run two inns there. 

  The Taylors’ other daughter got engaged on the beach at Nehalem. Her fiancé knew how important the area was to her so he brought her there to propose.

  Nehalem’s slower pace suits the Taylors just fine. Retired from their respective careers in electronics and banking, Don and Jacque spend their free time playing pickle ball, kayaking and cycling. They enjoy spending time on a beach a mile from their home and are active in a community garden and land trust.

  That said, Jacque added that Nehalem isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone:

  “I’m not saying that we don’t have problems. Growth is also a huge issue here. (But) there are policies in place that don’t allow any franchises or buildings more than two stories. … As more people of our generation are retiring, they’re selling their homes in Portland and moving to the coast. Building is occurring, but it’s happening with a lot of community input.”

  As much as they love the area, she adds that “it’s not for everyone. You have to drive 25 miles north or south to get to retail stores. … The closest Costco is 50 miles north.  We’re good with all that. It’s so worth it living here because of the soul of our community.

 Their take on Boise today?

 “We have friends who had to move out of Boise for work and then came back,” Don said. “We asked them how they felt being back in Boise. They said ‘We still love Boise, but Boise’s lost its soul.’”

  The Taylors saw the Boise they knew and loved slipping away from them more than 30 years ago.

  “As farms and land disappeared, we could see what was happening,” Jacque said. “Boise was being loved to death. We as natives felt like the minority.”

  If anything, the trend has accelerated. We didn’t used to see a lot of out-of-state license plates in what recently OF LATE? has become one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. Now you can’t drive more than a few blocks without seeing them.  

  “I hear friends who live in Boise complaining about how much bigger it’s gotten, and they moved to Boise just ten or 15 years ago,” Don said. “It’s changed a lot just since then.

  “ I hate seeing this done to communities all over the country. People move to places for the quality of life, and then it’s destroyed. We shouldn’t be doing that. We should be able to protect and preserve that quality of life in the places we love.”

Tim Woodward’s column appears every other Sunday in The Idaho Press and is posted on woodwardblog.com the following Mondays. Contact him at woodwardcolumn@gmail.com.

One thought on “Has Boise Lost Its Soul?

  1. I first came to Idaho in 1987. Visited Boise weekly. Bought a home in Boise three years later. Boise is very different now. I grew up in what became Silicon Valley. When there were still fruit orchards. Also lived in the boomtowns of San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio. All this Treasure Valley growth is too familiar to places I’ve lived.

    Like

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