Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Impact fee discussion on another blog...

I recently added links to blogs in Arizona that discuss local and state political issues. While most that I included to this point are of the conservative persuasion, there is at least one that leans to the left. My only rule on adding links of this sort is if the link leads to something worth reading with some regularity. I believe that I am open minded enough to consider the views of others in the hopes that it either leads me to something I haven't thought of before or to a better decision on whatever it is the issue might be.

So today I found this blog post that was posted yesterday at a blog called Rum, Romanism and Rebellion. The blogs author is a self titled democratic activist living in Tucson (or near at least). The issue that he takes on is the possible suspension of impact fees in the city of Tucson.

Here is part of the post...

Yeah, some of y’all may not like this, but I am willing to give Rodney Glassman’s idea to suspend impact fees a chance.

Look, I am usually at the head of the line to bash the scrapers and bladers over as SAHBA. However, I think this idea has merit. As long as it stays limited to the city (I see no proposal like this passing the Board of Supervisors anyway) and the law is allowed to sunset. I also like that he is looking for a way to tie this into Shirley Scott’s proposals for affordable housing.

Glassman is selling this as a way to put folks to work. SAHBA claims that there are projects ready to go if they don’t have the expense of the impact fees getting in their way. I don’t entirely buy that the fee is the only thing stopping them from doing new construction. But, if getting rid of it allows them to build and provide a few extra jobs, I’m okay with that, especially with so many folks in the construction trades out of work. If it turns out that larger forces in the market are what is actually keeping them from building, then they wont build anyway, and what do we lose there?

I also think that this may be a way to encourage developers to build in the city rather than more far flung developments in the county far from existing services. Development in the city rather than in the hinterlands has environmental benefits, but would also obviate the economic and social impact of sprawl.

There is more to the post and I hope you will consider clicking on the link to read the rest.

I find this particular post interesting because the author makes it known that he is not normally on the side of the builders (the SAHBA is the same sort of association as our local NABA). However he is willing to consider the proposal made by Tucson City Council member Glassman (a deomocrat) for the reasons stated above.

Those reasons are very similar to what the NABA folks have been saying in our local confines. Our economy depends greatly on the building trade. Our local builders that have been asking for the elimination of impact fees have also stated that the fees are too costly to move forward with projects.

The author is correct in his thinking... basically if the fees are reduced or eliminated and the builders still don't proceed with projects, the community is not out any funding that the fees would provide.

The fees may make sense again when there is stability in the market, but not now. Some of something is better than all of nothing, and the impact fees seem to have led us to all of nothing.

I know that our city council has not put the subject of impact fees to bed, so to speak, and there will be more discussion in the future. If the local builders are right and it is only the fees that stand in the way of more growth (i.e. jobs and other forms of investment coming to this community now rather than later), then why not a chance for the builders to prove it by perhaps just suspending the fees for some period of time??

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