Sunday, November 06, 2005
Nightmare on Main Street
The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development has constantly stated that "We Can Find a Better Neighbor" when it comes to the proposed Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter. Unfortunately for PARD, rather than just being against Wal-Mart, their candidate Judy Krueger has had to actually PROPOSE SOMETHING to address the city's budget woes versus just being AGAINST WAL-MART (I don't include Gary Johnson in this as his PARD handlers have not allowed him to make ANY public policy statements whatsoever).
In Wednesday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Krueger stated that she would like to see Pullman's downtown emulate Moscow's downtown with more shops, cafes, and food co-op. There's just one significant problem with that theory: UNLIKE IDAHO, WASHINGTON DOESN'T CHARGE SALES TAX ON MOST FOOD ITEMS. So the net effect of a food co-op downtown would be to take up otherwise valuable revenue-creating real estate. Of course, the WSU intelligentsia and greenies would have a place to mingle over here versus at the Moscow Food Co-Op.
Candidate Krueger said she also wants to concentrate development in downtown Pullman and envisions it being like the U District in Seattle, with restaurants and shops for students. Another good idea. By all means let's base our economy on the fluctuations of university enrollment and catering to residents who have the least amount of disposable income. Seattle has just a skosh bigger retail tax base to draw from outside of the U District.
She mentioned that transportation was key to making that happen. Krueger has proposed a trolley to bring students down from campus into downtown. We all know it's so difficult now for students to walk or ride their bikes down the hill. She gave Memphis as an example of a city that has revitalized its downtown with a trolley. Excuse me?A Memphis watchdog group reports that the Memphis Area Transit Authority trolley system which cost Memphis over $10 million dollars to build (and an overall cost of $104.5 million dollars factoring in yearly maintenance) is currently losing $3.5 million dollars each year. We would "revitalize" ourselves right of existence if we followed Judy's plan.
Ms. Krueger has also suggested making Main Street two-way with diagonal parking. This would effectively make Main Street a single lane in each direction versus the current three lanes westbound/two lanes eastbound arrangement with Main and Paradise. According to the Palouse Regional Transportation Plan, 15,100 vehicle trips are made through downtown every day. Can you imagine what that would be like if we reduced the number of lanes from five to two? And PARD is concerned about the traffic Wal-Mart will bring?
In Friday's Daily News, Krueger proposed charging developers impact fees to pay for future infrastructure expenses. Is it any wonder that Duane Brelsford's and Ed Schweitzer's name appeared on the ad endorsing Ann Heath on Saturday? Can you imagine how much development Pullman would get if we made it even more expensive to develop here then it already is versus Idaho with its lower sales tax and less restrictive laws?
Krueger also wants a study to see how much more retail Pullman can absorb. MORE? Before ShopKo, which was the last sizable retail store to open in Pullman, you couldn't even buy a pair of ladies underwear or sneakers in town. Things haven't changed much.
Lastly, in yesterday's Daily News, Krueger said she wants all big projects or controversial projects in the city to come before a "citizen's roundtable" and obtain a conditional-use permit. As Ann Heath and Bill Paul pointed out, Krueger's "Knights of the Round Table" would open the door for unfair discrimination based on moral or philosophical reasons and drive developers and businesses to look elsewhere to build.
Judy Krueger's public policy pronouncements just reaffirm how out of touch she and the other PARD members really are. Political ideology and New Age liberal rhetoric are not a substitute for practical business experience and a realistic, level-headed economic philosophy. If Krueger and PARD get their way, it truly will be a "nightmare on Main Street."