Missoula County Commissioners Consider Larchmont Golf Course Affordable Housing Blue Line Scam Later Today

by Travis Mateer

Before we get to the Blue Line Development scam being cooked up by public/private fascists who give ZERO FUCKS about the avalanche of public comments AGAINST this idea, let’s take a look at three State Legislators pimping this project for Blue Line.

Here’s Shane Morigeau, Ellie Boldman and Danny Tenenbaum doing their thing (those last two legislators, it should be noted, aren’t even from Montana):

Missoula residents are fed up. The county surveyed 870 residents earlier this year, asking what it should prioritize going forward. The most popular response–by far–was increasing the housing supply. No other survey response came close.

Enter the Larchmont proposal. It would create thousands of new homes, with the majority of those homes set aside, by law, for working- and middle-class families. These homes come with restrictions that prevent house-flipping or conversion to Airbnbs. It’s no surprise that affordable housing advocates from across the community have come out in support of the Larchmont proposal. The Larchmont proposal would be an absolute game-changer for working-class families.

The only thing I agree with is the first sentence of this quote–Missoula residents ARE FED UP, and not just with affordable housing schemes, but also with Mayor Engen cronies telling us what to do, like that New York transplant, Homeland Security Danny, who likes to sneak into churches looking for white supremacists while taking tax money to quiet the trains for his Rattlesnake neighbors.

These legislative tools in their pathetic op-ed seem to understand the need to move their argument beyond the fig-leaf of affordable housing, so they quickly pivot from that justification to…CLIMATE CHANGE! Because OF COURSE they did!

Moving forward with the Larchmont proposal is also good climate policy. The people who live in these homes will have access to multiple zero-fare bus lines, including the Bus Rapid Transit line planned for Brooks Street. Residents would be able to bike directly from home to midtown and downtown Missoula on the Bitterroot bicycle-pedestrian path. Some of western Montana’s largest employers, like Community Hospital and the U.S. Forest Service, are located immediately adjacent to Larchmont, making it an optimal location for a walkable community. Transportation accounts for one-quarter of global CO2 emissions, and 80% of that CO2 comes from personal vehicles. If we are serious about fighting climate crisis, we must encourage transit-oriented development like the Larchmont proposal.

Yes, to SAVE THE EARTH we MUST GIVE Blue Line Development this opportunity for a massive financial windfall and if you disagree you probably want Mother Earth to die.

Oh, and if you’re curious about any perception of political incestuousness along the lines of WHO Blue Line Development employs–like Ellen Buchanan’s daughter, Keenan Whitt, who also just happened to work for Ellie back in the day when she was ED at the Poverello Center–well, you must REALLY HATE saving Gaia from BAD cars and their stinky tailpipes.

Another local government official with a Poverello Center connection, Ben Weiss, is showing his support for this scam with a clever hashtag.

Those without family connections and paychecks tied to affordable housing schemes are MUCH LESS enthusiastic about this development, like lawyer John Velk. Here’s a comment from John grabbed from Facebook:

Well, John Velk, since I’ve been interested in Blue Line Development for awhile, I can tell you Spencer Properties IS Blue Line Development–or, more specifically, it’s an LLC created to occlude the connection, since my understanding is the LLC is tied to Nathan Richmond’s wife.

And who is Nathan Richmond? The CEO of Blue Line, or course.

Highway 93 Properties is a little trickier, but my first look brings me to Loenbro. I got there by first looking up the LLC on the business finder portion of the Secretary of State site:

Then I looked up the address and did a street view.

Then I went to the Loenbro website to see what kind of work they do, and I found this:

Yes, this company has EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE with municipal projects. Could that include developing a golf course?

To conclude this post, let’s go to the not-so-veiled threat of what will happen if this golf course is NOT developed. Here’s the Ellie, Shane and Danny show delivering the threat to the Missoula dummies not immediately swayed by these development whores.

Missoula is growing whether we like it or not. If we refuse to build housing within our urban core, development will simply expand outward. We’ll see more prime farmland and wildlife habitat out on Mullan and in Target Range converted into subdivisions. Towns like Florence, Frenchtown, Arlee and Clinton will become mere bedroom communities for Missoula. For conservation advocates, moving forward with the Larchmont proposal is an absolute must.

When they say ABSOLUTE MUST they aren’t fucking around.

So what are you gonna do about it, Missoula?

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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21 Responses to Missoula County Commissioners Consider Larchmont Golf Course Affordable Housing Blue Line Scam Later Today

  1. A Brent Harshbarger says:

    Very interesting, thank you!

  2. Out in the woods says:

    What you’re missing is the fact that these towns (along with St.Ignatius, Alberton, Plains, Thompson Fall, for example) are slowly becoming bedroom communities to Missoula, this will continue to get worse as Missoula eats itself alive. One of the things you may want to think about is I feel a lot of this started when Weyerhaeuser closed its properties in Missoula. That was essentially ended Missoula as a logging town. The sawmill district grew out of this.

    On the other side is the fact that 2 years ago Weyerhaeuser sold off 620,000 acres to Southern Pine Plantations who later split that up and made a shit ton of money in real estate and Government conservation easements on a lot of land that won’t ever be developed.

    This leads to 2 points. #1 Missoula is currently in agreement with the US Forest Service to buy almost 20,000 acres off of them for recreation open space. #2 There is 12000 acres around Plains that is being cut up and subdivided by Missoula Realtor firms who are trying to turn Sanders County into the next fucking Bitterroot. This may not mean much to you except the Lambros name is attached to this and they are destroying our community. What happens in Zoomtown has a cascading effect on the poor, rural communities around it.

    It’s absolutely horrifying to know people from outside of your community can have such a negative impact on our way of life. While not giving a shit about one of the consistently poor counties in the state.

    Also, did you see that the pro-capitalistic martyr owners of Imagination our selling their brewery for $2.7 million so they can be even bigger martyrs in the Peace Corps?

    Thank you for what you’re doing. I wish I had more info to give to my legislators about this TIF shit because they need something else to do since they got their wolf bounties passed.

  3. Driving back from a game the other night, my stepson listed six major shopping malls in the greater Denver area that are now gone, razed. It’d the Amazon/Covid effect. I asked him what takes their place, and he said probably housing developments. Does Missoula have shopping malls on the brink of financial collapse? Might be an opportunity for low income housing. ,

  4. If turning a golf course into mandated affordable housing is such a shocking outrage of cronyism that we should oppose it as though our lives depend on it (your tone, not mine), then leaving it as a golf course is…good for us because…wait what’s the point exactly?

    What is Missoula supposed to “do about it” as you challenge in the closing statement…are you actually asking Missoulians to…fight against affordable housing based on the claims you made in this blog post?

    Given how money-grubbing most gentrifying developments are in this town (*cough* Cole Berquist and Wags Capital *cough*) I find it humorous that you are..against this development of affordable housing because…someone might stand to benefit from it? Is that the crux of the outrage? That Blue Line might profit monetarily somehow through a process that’s less than crystal clear?

    Soooo…what’s an idea for a solution to this then? Have you in fact actually confirmed some of these connections or…not yet? A google street view search is interesting, but by no means conclusive. How should this development work then, in a perfect world with the existing structure of capitalism that we have in place and how do we execute that?

    Genuinely curious to hear what the point of this post is cause I’m sort of missing it by trying to read it, but it’s genuinely unclear to me. Perhaps I’ve missed something but, it reads as though you’re just railing against something happening because “city”.

    Happy to be wrong here though…

    • I suggest you scroll down to the bottom of the blog and use the search function where more context awaits you if you’re actually curious and not some anonymous troll.

      • downtotheteeth says:

        Not trolling, was trying to ask you as the writer for clarification because it wasn’t clear in the blog post what the…not what the “point” is but what I was supposed to take away from this exactly because it didn’t seem clear.

        I did in fact poke around at some of your other posts but sorta have the same issue (to varying degrees) of trying to parse out cold facts and interpretative assumptions.

        I’m still curious if I’m just missing something in post of if you do have…maybe not a “solution” per se but, like a finer point on what exactly we as missoulians are supposed to “fight against” with the idea of turning the golf course into affordable housing? Like if this project is worth being against, then what projects are worth being in favor of?

    • JC says:

      Folks need to remember that Missoula uses the term “Affordable Housing” to refer to what’s affordable to the median household income, which is $54,062. Missoula officials are loath to use the term “low income housing” because then we’d have to consider what the actual income level is for people who are struggling with accessing housing, and how much that housing costs to rent.

      The drive to provide “affordable housing” does nothing to alleviate the housing problems of the unhoused or low income people. The theory that more housing provided to the middle class opens up housing for the lower class doesn’t work in Missoula, where housing is so incredibly constrained.

      Which brings us to the question of what is the goal of the government in providing low income housing when the private sector fails to do so in any meaningful way, even when engorging themselves at the public subsidy trough?

      And the even tougher question is when do officials quit gentrifying the city to attract out of state developers and workers when we can’t even begin to provide for the low income residents we have? “Growth management” has all but disappeared from the lexicon of gentrification. Economic development’s “vitality and vibrant” are the buzzwords that drive this process.

      Try and talk to the city commissioners about limits to growth and they’ll all give you a vacant look, like “What, are you crazy?” My question is always: “Well, how many people living in Missoula Valley is too many?” And none of them are willing to tackle that question. Which always leads me to the answer, which is: “the population level will cap itself when Missoula becomes an undesirable place to live.”

      And by then, most Montanans will have fled en masse to the remaining sane corners of the state.

      • Eloise says:

        I love this no growth bullshit. It’s all boomers who read The Population Bomb back in their formative years, and they can’t let go of that fantasy. It’s honestly kind of cute.

        • Oh, Eloise .. how positively age-ist and myopic.

          Perpetual growth in finite space is malignancy, and purporting to prevent sprawl in the rest of the county by virulent infection of every cubic inch of the Hub of Five Valleys with xeroxed “affordable” housing (that ISN’T) and “attainable” housing (a higher price point yet) is ludicrous.

          Turning Missoula into Hong Kong or Manhattan WILL NOT prevent the gentrification, subdivision, suburbanization and alienation from nature in Missoula’s surrounding communities & environs.

          Why would it?

          Are development dollars worth less “out there” than “in here?”

          Will BlackRock pension fund, Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan Chase, Lambros and the billionaire/multimillionaire speculator/investor class all adopt a self-imposed moratorium on their rapacious activities once all city proper green space is developed, hi-rises of luxury condos dominate the skyline, the last remnants of urban agricultural land is gone (how positively environmentally smart!), the Clark Fork is canyonized and an “urban trail system” ruins our remaining semi-wild places and wildlife zones with paved “trails,” “interpretive” signage, and traffic jams of e-bikes?

          And where are the three lawmakers getting this presumption that “by law” the development would be “permanently affordable?” when the legislature bans localities from imposing inclusionary zoning and rent control? Yes, there are ways to get around this, using land trusts, community land banking and restrictive covenants, but unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know very well that with a single exception, every “game changing” public/private partnership has entailed massive windfalls to multistate development consortiums, massive losses of public investments, and very few actually affordable units.

          It is even worse than JC describes: For example, Eran Pehan claimed that 70 units of thr Ravara project would be set aside for people who “are not in the highest wage brackets by any means,” but was swiftly contradicted by a Spokane-based project partner who clarified that the “target price” of the “affordable” units would ne around $310,000. Pehan herself had said that ‘affordable” would be defined as targeting persons with incomes of 125% of Missoula’s median annual area income. More than half of Missoula’s residents — including about 60-65% of our renters — struggle on 1/3 to 1/2 of that median annual area income.

          This is why Travis can legitimately refer to these proposals as scams and schemes. They do not alleviate our housing crisis (another term co-opted & corrupted by the profiteers and nepotists), but rather EXPLOIT it.

          Hey, Eloise, some of us boomers read a lot of other books, too. Such as Schumacher’s ‘Small is Breautiful,’ Buckminster Fuller’s works, and Heilbronner’s ‘An Inquiry into the Human Prospect.’ Not to mention standard texts in human ecology and natural history. Exceeding the square of the optimum number of any species in a defined area carries a price. In our case, it is violence, sexual aggression, suicide, public health crises, etc.

          Missoula is not governed by “leftists” or “liberals.” Jesse Ramos got it right when he referenced “elitism” in his farewell exchange with Engen at the last City Council meeting. Missoula is governed by Boutique Liberals and mutated New Urbanists. Their “progressivism” consists of lip service, resolutions, proclamations and identity politics (and the elitists who control and influence the Msla. County Democratic Central Committee support them, and purge reformers). The New Urbanism of Msla’s government is not egalitarian, but rather practices neoliberalism as it partners with unfettered Capital to wage class war and economic cleansing against the mass of our locals who are kept politically illiterate and without class consciousness owing to an imperial corporate press.

      • Pete Talbot says:

        JC, you’ll have to clue me in to where “the sane corners of the state” are.

        • Pete Talbot says:

          It was a legitimate question and not intended for you, Mark, as I have absolutely no interest in what you have to say, and never have. So, JC, seriously, where do think “the sane corners of the state” are. I have two friends who sold their homes in Missoula, bought similar homes (albeit in need of some fixing-up) in Anaconda but still banked $100-200 grand. I think they were fed up with the rapid growth, traffic, high prices and general cultural shift in the Missoula community. However, on the flip side, there are few things more depressing than living in a dying town. I lived in Butte for a short time right after the Anaconda Company shut down its mining operation. Every weekend, I’d hop in my rig and head straight to Missoula for some music, food (Zimorino’s Red Pies had just opened on Main St.) and fun times. So there’s the conundrum. I don’t think you can have it both ways.

        • Please elucidate what you mean by “general cultural shift” because I doubt you are referring to the sudden cognitive challenges of Covidians.

        • Pete Talbot says:

          From a Bohemian town to a less Bohemian town… ?

        • JC says:

          Sanity is a relative phrase.

          Suffice it to say that those places where people don’t convert prime soils to housing or industrial uses (like Missoula is) is more sane. I find the most sanity in the wilderness when I visit, or just in the knowledge that humans will not trammel it.

          I find more sanity in a community of people who live and let live and take care of each other when the need arises. Regardless of politics, class, sexuality, creed or religion. I find living in the Jocko Valley and on the Rez to be far more sane than when I lived in Missoula, even given the problems here.

          Conversely, and this is for you Eloise, I find the attitude of yours and others who see no downside to an ever growing human population to be rather insane. I’ve never read the Population Bomb, and my formative years have never ended. I’ll hopefully remain open minded to the grave. I still believe in not trusting anyone over 30, including myself, knowing that each new generation has their opportunity to raise (or not) to the challenges of their times, and I can only inform them of my experience.

          I for one value wilderness and biodiversity over converting the planet to a factory “supporting” a human population until it inevitably collapses from any of a number of reasons. I find the principles of conservation biology far more sane than the insane market principles of von Mises, Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and every other supply side “free market” economist out there.

          “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
          –The Land Ethic, A Sand County Almanac. Aldo Leopold

          One might replace the word “right” with sane. And the word “wrong” with insane. And this isn’t an invitation to anybody to discuss ethical relativism with me right now.

  5. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a follow up to this post, titled “What Did Larchmont Schemers Win By Losing?”

  6. Pingback: What Did The Larchmont Schemers Win By Losing? | Zoom Chron Blog

  7. Pete, I asked Travis to delete my comment, as it was unnecessary and aggressive. I don’t know you well enough to dislike you. Or like you.

  8. Pingback: The Transitional Month Of April For Homeless Services In Missoula | Zoom Chron Blog

  9. Pingback: Why Do You Need To Know Who Is Behind Spencer Properties LLC? | Zoom Chron Blog

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