Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, March 26, 2007

Here's What Sustainable Growth is Really All About

This is why I supported Michael Largent for County Commissioner last year. From a story in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News titled "Whitman County's deficit is decreasing":
Largent said playing the touch-and-go budget game is no way to run a sustainable local government. To remedy its current situation, the county is trying to broaden its tax base. It is working with Boise-based Hawkins Companies to construct a new retail center in the Pullman-Moscow corridor and providing support for a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman to increase sales tax revenue. It's also trying to open up the county to residential growth.

"If we can get more people to move here, our businesses can provide them with products and services," Largent said. "And that's good for the long run."
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2 comments:

Bruce Heimbigner said...

I think this is the link to the proposed Whitman county housing / land use regulations currently being evaluated. http://www.whitmancounty.org/Commis/rrhpr.aspx
http://www.whitmancounty.org/Commis/PDFs/RRHPR/Strikethrough_Version_of_Chapter_19.12.pdf
seems to have the best general idea of the what a rural residential community would look like ½ acre minimum lot size. The “Strikethrough Version of Comp Plan” is also interesting.

I want Pullman and the county to grow. But I’m also a farmer at heart and a conservationist (in the definition that if we love the environment/ecosystem then put we should put our money where our mouth is and buy it.) The current county regulations regarding housing are pretty odd and I think were intended to preserve agriculture, keep people in the ‘city’, and reduce the spread of homes across prime agricultural land.

Back in the day (that’s my day – the ‘70s) we all thought the sky was falling, we were soon going to run out land for farming - and food prices would go through the roof. None of that has happened nor is there any reason to think it will happen soon. So why regulate at all? Clearly it should not be for some ‘greater good’ like preserving agriculture, free market needs to have a play. Zoning should be designed to meet the needs and wants of the local community (ok so I’m a dreamer, I know state of Washington wants to do everything.) What do people in this county/city want? When I was on the Pullman Hospital board we surveyed and did detailed analysis of what kind of hospital our community thought we should have. Not everyone was happy with the conclusions. But that information allowed us have a clear vision and stand up not just for what seemed right to us but also by what we saw as an endorsement from the community. It looks like the county has done something similar, but the documents are still being modified. The devil is in the detail. So we (everyone reading this) should probably be reading those details (ugg.)
My free market side says it really isn’t anyone’s business what a property owner (framer) does, while my ‘keep regulations local’ says the local voters have a say in how our community develops.

I wish there were some guiding principles and common vision used to create the counties regulations but so far I really don’t know what that would be.

Tom Forbes said...

Great comment, Bruce.

I say let's just nix the three year moratorium and then discuss changing the county comprehensive plan. Managing "viewsheds" and "rural character" by zoning is simply not going to work.

You're right, complete consensus is not possible, but let's have an intelligent debate of the issues (as you have done above) without resorting to all the trendy buzzwords and certainly without Moscow/Latah County's interference.

I like your "put up or shut up" proposal. If county residents want to preserve the ridgelines so badly, let them vote for the money to buy them up and preserve them for posterity.

And you're right, the free market has to be the prime consideration. Look at what has happened by not considering the free market 30 years ago. We now export $150 plus million retail dollars every year to Moscow where there (was) is a free market.