Some lawmakers in Idaho are unhappy with the state’s purchase of a self-storage facility last summer, and aim to pass legislation to end similar transactions.
A state-managed endowment trust overseen by the Department of Land paid $2.7 million in August to buy the 400-plus-unit Affordable Self Storage in a Boise suburb. The controversial purchase has been under fire by local business owners and self-storage professionals who questioned if a state-run commercial business could operate fairly.
Republican Rep. John Vander Woude told the House State Affairs Committee this week that the purchase was an inappropriate expansion of government into the private sector. Vander Woude’s proposal would require state-owned businesses using non-agricultural land be sold to private persons.
Shortly after the transaction, the national Self Storage Association (SSA) sent a letter to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) and Idaho Department of Land Commissioners expressing concerns about the state competing with the private business sector. In the letter, SSA President and CEO Michael T. Scanlon Jr. stated that the purchase of the facility by the state creates an unfair competitive advantage over other local self-storage operators and requested that Idaho divest itself of the property.
The SSA received a response in November from George B. Bacon, director of the IDL. Bacon who said the state’s practice of purchasing and managing properties including office buildings and parking lots helps mitigate taxes for Idaho citizens and supports public schools and other institutions. He further said the states followed "a traditional investor path” in purchasing the self-storage facility and local citizens enjoy certain ancillary benefits generated by the trust, such as "hunting, fishing, hiking, berry picking,” and "limited camping and motorized activities."