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Visiting Boise, NBC’s ‘Today’ show discovers ‘magic’ — and ‘another California’?

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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – Feel that bright glare? It’s not just the blazing sun.

The national media spotlight lit up Boise again this week.

Idaho’s capital was profiled for about 5 minutes Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. The feature — part of a weeklong NBC News series titled “Priced Out” — highlighted what’s great and quickly becoming not so great about this place. Coverage is airing across all NBC News platforms.

Visiting Boise, correspondent Harry Smith touched on most of the major talking points. He reported that Idaho is the fastest-growing state in America. He interviewed a positively glowing, newly transplanted Seattle couple whose house has increased 60% in value since they bought it last year. “Lots in their subdivision, on the outskirts of Boise, sell within days of going on the market,” Smith said. “Boise, in case you haven’t heard, is booming.”

In my favorite moment, Smith found a local who seemed genuinely irritated that newcomers mispronounce Boise as “Boy-Z.” Like many natives and longtimers, she expressed sadness and frustration about changes happening to the Treasure Valley. “We no longer get to see our pretty Foothills; we see houses,” she said. Idaho can’t prevent people from moving here, she added, but there are things we can do to control the population onslaught.

“Otherwise,” she said, “it’s just going to be another California.”

The “Today” story touched on other pressures our city faces, ranging from the housing shortage to skyrocketing apartment rental prices. Even Idahoans living in motels, cars or finding themselves homeless.

“We recognize the magic of this community that we live in,” Mayor Lauren McLean told Smith. Retaining that magic is “the challenge of our time,” she acknowledged.

As for the 69-year-old journalist’s personal perspective? Boise reminds Smith of Denver when he first visited that Colorado city 50 years ago, he told his colleagues at “Today.”

“You have to sympathize with the locals,” Smith added. “ ‘Like, how do we keep this from exploding into a thing where we want to leave?’ ”

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