Controlling Development: Why “Just Say No” Won’t Hack It

Local governments in Virginia say they can handle the stresses and strains of growth: just give them the power to ban growth where roads and schools are crowded. Sounds reasonable. Until you look at what’s happening in Maryland’s Washington suburbs.

That’s what Alec MacGillis with the Washington Post has done. And the results aren’t always pretty. Writes MacGillis:

Here is what that method has accomplished in Anne Arundel County: More than one-third of its school districts are closed to new subdivisions, even in areas intended to absorb construction under the state’s much-touted “slow-growth” laws. As a result, development is being pushed to more rural parts of the state less suited to handle it.

The shortcomings of Maryland’s growth policies are just one sign of what frustrated officials are finding in both [Maryland and Virginia] — that controlling development is not as easy as just saying no. Three months after voters in the D.C. suburbs elected candidates who vowed to slow growth, reform proposals are floundering amid political inertia and resistance from developers.

If you halt growth here, it will move over there. The trouble is, “there” is usually some outlying district or county farther from the center-weighted location of jobs in the metropolitan area. Stopping growth might alleviate localized congestion — temporarily — but it makes regional congestion worse. As people move farther from the core in search of housing, they clog the Interstates and freeways for greater distances, putting even greater strain on the transportation system than they would otherwise.

Blocking development in the fast-growth counties could conceivably avoid this problem if there were more in-fill and re-development projects closer to the urban core. But rampant NIMBYism in established neighborhoods, buttressed by local zoning codes and comprehensive plans, limits the number of such new projects to a trickle. The solution to Virginia’s infrastructure woes is not giving fast-growth governments more power to abuse. It’s re-restructuring our governance systems, tax codes and zoning codes.


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90 responses to “Controlling Development: Why “Just Say No” Won’t Hack It”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Stopping” growth is a foolish concept. But then the concept that a locality must accept growth is foolish also.

    The WaPO article was misleading in the extreme.

    It leads one to believe that if the inner jurisdictions set up moratoriums that the growth will simply go to the outer localities.

    Who says the outer places can’t have moratoriums either?

    Do folks realize that both Spotsylvania and Stafford made that same decision two years ago without fanfare?

    What if, one by one, every county did what Stafford, Spotsy, and Facquier have done?

    It’s NOT illegal to not approve rezones.

    They don’t need no stinkin General Assembly law to do this.

    All they have to do is say that the ONLY growth they will accept is “by-right” and then stand back and watch what happens.

    Developers, land-speculators, etc can’t survive by building one home at a time on 10 or 50 acres.

    9/10ths of them would go broke within a short time once the “excess” building lots approved in the 1990s are exhausted (for premium prices).

    The question at hand is – why are rezones in the best interests of the counties – no matter what density that is higher than by-right?

    Is more traffic and crowded schools a “benefit”?

    The Moral argument that people have to have a place to live is a bogus argument.

    Places to live will always exist – for a price. The market WILL provide it.

    Wanna live in NYC on an entry level salary? Get ready for some ugly choices but no one says you cannot live there.

    So – we’re back to the original question.

    It’s DUMB to try to “stop growth”.

    It’s equally DUMB to think that we MUST Rezone or else.

    THOUGHTS?

  2. Freedom Works Avatar
    Freedom Works

    Humans have to live somewhere.
    Education and commuter roads should have nothing to do with controlling housing. Calls for government to criminalize the construction of homes for families are a sad response to a socialist education and transportation system.
    Imagine if the government managed food production and fed everyone in public cafeterias. After all, food is more essential than education or transportation.
    Soon you would hear pleas for a housing moratorium until adequate public facilities in the form of more farms and more public restaurants were built.
    Do you ever hear the private sector whining about the cost of new customers? Regulated utilities, sometimes. But farmers, grocery retailers, restaurants, computer chip makers, automobile manufacturers, homebuilders and every other private sector supplier of goods and services are happy to have an expanding customer base.
    The solution is simple. Start with every limited access commuter corridor and make them toll roads with higher graduated peak hour congestion pricing. The more drivers, the more toll revenue and the more money to build additional profit making lanes and roads.
    On the Dulles Toll Road, instead of using the tens of millions of dollars in excess revenue earned each year to add lanes and improve access, Virginia is giving away the road as fast as possible to MWAA so they can spend 100 percent of the toll revenue on a Metro Rail line whose operating costs will have to be subsidized forever.
    Imagine what 4 billion dollars (the purported Metro extension price tag) worth of profit making toll roads would do for northern Fairfax County and eastern Loudoun.

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “The solution is simple. Start with every limited access commuter corridor and make them toll roads with higher graduated peak hour congestion pricing. The more drivers, the more toll revenue and the more money to build additional profit making lanes and roads.”

    This is part of the essential bargain to accepting growth.

    Further – take the money from congestion pricing and use it to build separated HOV lanes that have separate ramps that allow Bus Rapid Transit to complement Metro where Metro cannot be.

    BRT is “configurable” and adaptable to changing conditions.

    For outlying jurisdicitions – use congestion pricing money to build a separate dedicated VRE rail.

    If you took a plan like this to the general public – especially those caught in hellish congestion every day… you’d get overwhelming approval.

    Why we don’t do this is because the business community is opposed to it.

    It provides them with no benefits because the focus is on congestion reduction – a quality of life benefit for ordinary people that does not add to businesses profit bottom line…

    When I see the Virgina Association of Home Builders come out in favor of Toll Roads and Congestion Pricing.. I’ll eat my … shorts…

  4. Groveton Avatar

    Jim Bacon – Ooops You’ve Done It Again.

    “The solution to Virginia’s infrastructure woes is not giving fast-growth governments more power to abuse.”.

    Where to start?

    1. The state of Virginia is a strict Dillon Rule state. 40 of the 50 states in the US have some form of home rule (i.e. intentional exceptions to the Dillon Rule philosophy). Virginia is one of the 10 that does not.

    The local governments have little power in Virginia. They even have to get state legislature permission to tax their citizens for projects to be performed within their own jurisdiction.

    2. The state government established a ridiculous transportation funding system 20 years ago that was a mess then and is a mess now. It was not the “fast-growth government” that established this idiotic system – it was the state. More specifically, it was driven by the rural lawmakers in a transparent effort to advantage their communities at the expense of the good of the state.

    3. It is the state government that spent all of last year and (so far) all of this year gridlocked on transportation issues.

    4. It is the state government that has grown transportation funding by 33% (adjusted for inflation) since 1979 while Virginia’s population has grown 43% in the same time.

    5. It is the state government that let VDOT run amok with endless money wasted on projects that never ended.

    6. It is local governments, like Arlington County, who throw the state out of their road systems and accomplish a decent balance between economic growth and reasonable life style. Arlington has done this by getting as far away from the state govenment as possible given Virginia’s feudal love of Dillon’s Rule.

    Are there problems in the local governments? Absolutely. A corruption investigation in Loudoun, gridlock in Fairfax, etc.

    However – if one is to assess blame and reduce power as part of that assessment it seems clear to me that the state government gets the lion’s share of the blame and should lose the lion’s share of teh power.

  5. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    The counties control the growth

    The state controls the money

    The counties whine the state doesn’t provide enough money

    The state whines the counties don’t control growth

    This provides endless cover for career politicians

    To combat this

    The counties adjust and spend their own money on transportation effectively cutting the state out of the equation except of the fact that the state still gets taxes from the county

    So when is NoVa forming its own state again 😛

    The Regional Transportation Plans are basically what this is but why should NoVa and TW be doubletaxed by still having to pay out to the State.

  6. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    The Moral argument that people have to have a place to live is a bogus argument.

    Places to live will always exist – for a price. The market WILL provide it.

    Humans have three basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. Imagine someone saying the same about food or clothing as is said above in the quoted text. To me, it smacks of “I’ve got mine so I could care less about anyone else.”

    While I have disagreements with some of my friends on the other side in the smart/no growth (you pick the term), I don’t think I have ever heard any one of them dismiss the need for shelter in such a callous manner.

  7. “To me, it smacks of “I’ve got mine so I could care less about anyone else.”

    Thank you, Tyler. That pretty much sums up my view of the situation. When was the last time you saw a renter at a public hearing, clamboring for less growth? doesn’t happen. To a voice, the preamble starts off, “This place was so nice when I bought property here, now all the newcomers are ruining it.”

    Yep, homes will always be available for a price. The question we need to ask is if it willbe a fair price as adjudicated by the market, or whether it will be an inflated price adjudicted by the NIMBY’s.

    “Developers, land-speculators, etc can’t survive by building one home at a time on 10 or 50 acres.”

    If only it were allowed. If I was allowed to build one house on fifty acres, I’d retire tomorrow. I’d settle for being allowed to build one house on two acres, but ai don’t think I’ll live long enough to see it happen, so I guess I’ll just continue to commute 100 miles a day……

    “Who says the outer places can’t have moratoriums either?”

    Well they can, and they do. There are more than 10,500 jurisdictions across the US with soe form of growth control. There are only 3300 counties. You do the math: Stopping growth is a foolish concept, unless you are willing to accept war, famine, enforced birth control and similar draconian measures.

    “…why are rezones in the best interests of the counties -…”

    Don’t you suppose you can ask the same question, whether the rezones are upward or downward? Where are the metrics to prove the point, one way or the other.

    ‘It’s DUMB to try to “stop growth”.
    It’s equally DUMB to think that we MUST Rezone or else.’

    OK, who is we? Evidently “we” excludes everone who lives in the 10500 jurisdictions with growth controls. If it is dumb to stop growth, then eventually someone MUST rezone, or else. The or else is one home per fifty acres as far as you can drive, let alone see.

    “The more drivers, the more toll revenue and the more money to build additional profit making lanes and roads.”

    But where ae you going to build them? Arlington is built out. It will likely never have another new road or street. If it does, it will entail buying up homes and businesses and tearing them down in order to have more compact development. It will wind up like Houston: 75% streets. This is an idea that is stark raving mad.

    We are not going to build more streets in the places that are most congested. It is too expensive, no matter how much toll money you collect. And, long before that happens, the toll payers will move someplace else: providing there is anyplace left that will have them.

    This idea is a fraud, because the money from toll payers will be diverted for other uses. The result will be that, whatever those other uses are, the users won’t be the payers.

    Besides that, you first have to make and accept the premise that there is such a thing as a profit making road. Given that roads make a profit, why would you want to turn that profit over to a “road developer” instead of simply leaving the roads free, and allowing the profit to accrue to whatever citizens are smart enough to use the roads most efficiently?

    Isn’t this the crux of the greater good argument?

    Why is it OK to steal the highest and best use of land fom people, whether it is for a power line or conservation, just because the premise is for some higher good. So what if someone makes a nasty profit, doesn’t the money go right back into the economy, for the greater good?

    Why is it not OK for people to use the roads to the best available benefit? The people pay for them anyway, and the benefit they gain goes right back into the economy.

    Well, the obvious reason is because of non-market values. Like the value you get by denying building rights to your neighbor. You get higher home values and less crowded streets, and he gets the smae thing, but at a much higher personal cost, because he shares the non-market values but shoulders the (loss of) market values alone.

    Freedom Works is right: when did you ever hear of the private sector whining about the cost of new customers?

    I have pointed out before the difference in per capita income and the per capita real estate value between Loudoun and Fauquier. I am not blind to the life style benefits of living in Fauquier. But. the price of that life style is the difference in personal per capita wealth noted above.

    In other words, the cost of conservation is EXACTLY equal to the “savings” that result from preventing growth.

    BOTH sides are making a bogus argument.

    Neither side is better off by demonizing the other.

    The Moral argument that people have to have a place to live is a bogus argument only if you are willing to watch people freeze on the street from the vantage point of your bay window. At the very least, it makes it hard to make a moral argument in favor of conservation for the public good.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “While I have disagreements with some of my friends on the other side in the smart/no growth (you pick the term), I don’t think I have ever heard any one of them dismiss the need for shelter in such a callous manner.”

    Let’s address this for what it is – a totally bogus red herring.

    Are you referring to someone who take a $70K job in NoVa needing shelter or are you talking about an uneducated hispanic worker needing shelter?

    Which one do YOU think is a priority?

    Which one do YOU think needs attention in terms of whether the market provides or not.

    Which one do YOU think adapts and finds shared housing options to provide for their own shelter?

    What this is about is “affordable” high class housing for folks who have above average salaries.

    How many rezones do you know of that are for “shelter” for those who do NOT earn 70K a year?

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Here’s the bottom line.

    REZONES are NOT for housing for those that will freeze if the rezone is not approved.

    This is so BOGUS it’s hardly responding to.

    Virtually ALL residential rezones are for market-priced housing for those who make good salaries and many are two-income earners.

    This is not housing for those who work in service occupations or even plumbers or electricians or School teachers.

    What do you think Rezones require approval?

    What do you think is the reason behind the law that requires rezones to be approved?

    Go read the law and find out why.

    According to the “poor people will freeze” argument the law must be callous… right?

    Tell me the last time a developer sought a rezone who guaranteed he would build 100% shelter for those that would “freeze” without it.

    Folks – what a LOAD.

    It’s NOT about “I got mine”.

    What this is about is accommodating GROWTH while NOT harming the community of people who already live there – who came there on the same basis.

    There is a responsibility to all residents that – as we grow in population and provide more places for people to live that those places are indeed places where they can “live”.

    This REQUIRES adequate infrastructure.

    Ray keeps says he doesn’t know how to “share” the expense of the new infrastructure so he basically bails out and asserts that the status quo is fine.. except he doesn’t like growth restrictions.

    You cannot have it both ways.

    Ray – Growth restrictions ARE the status quo.

    If growth results in adverse impacts to people, then there will be an adverse reaction to it.

    This is no different than the same folks who claim that the market will find a way around restrictions except that BOTH statement are true.

    What is being advocated is telling existing residents that they have no choice but to accept growth that overwhelms the infrastructure AND they must pay increased taxes to build the additional infrastructure.

    How many folks are going to agree to this premise from their elected?

    The way forward on growth is an equitable sharing of new infrastructure costs – in the eyes of existing residents as well as new folks.

    For instance a new school seat can cost upwards of 30K per kid.

    Spotsylvainia charges about a 15K proffer.

    Where do you think the other 15K comes from?

  10. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    So once again all this boils down to is growth “good” or “bad” (which of course is an oversimplification but ayway)

    There is no easy answer on this
    Just look at Loudoun who has flipped flopped the last two election and will in all likely hood flip back to slow/no growth this fall.

    These are extreme examples but it helps make things clearer

    Growth is “good”

    Business owners in general who want more people to buy their products or use their service

    Job creation

    New Residents (NoVa is growing people are going to have to live somewhere
    ___________________________________

    Growth is “good” and “bad”

    Property Values (This is an interesting one I would love to see a study on this) I think the answer is long term growth increases property values short term growth decreases property values…

    In the short term freezing or decreasing the amount of homes built in an area propably does increase existing property values

    Also with unbridled growth too many dwellings can be built for an area driving down property values(example the current condo market with additional units slated for 2007-2008)

    however… long term no growth is/ would be a disaster

    Just imagine if Tysons Corner was still a cow pasture would that house in Burke or Reston be worth as much as it is today.

    Or to use Ray’s example why is property so much more valuable in Loudoun which has more growth than Fauqier which has less growth

    ___________________________________

    Growth is “bad”

    Growth will overload the existing infrastructure (roads, schools/parks/library/police etc)

    The roads argument works for local streets but for collector and interstates it doesn’t hold up the house will end up being built anyway and then clog up additional miles to get to where the person wnated to live and then join in the traffic which would have happened if the person could have live there in the first place (Bacons argument)

    The schools/library/police/fire argument holds up I think

    __________________________________

    So in summary growth is good for business people bad for short term property values but good over the long term and bad because of strains on local infrastructure

    Humm interesting so why would any local Supervisor be for growth?

    Remember supervisors are politicians interested in being elected aka they have a short-term focus (In the short term growth is only good for business bad for residents)

    P.S. I know this is a simplistic way of looking at this issue but I think I hit each major theme

    Comments?

  11. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    Of course long term growth is good so personally I favor growth

    I think Larry hit the nail on the head for how to move forward with Development

    The way forward on growth is an equitable sharing of new infrastructure costs – in the eyes of existing residents as well as new folks.

    For instance a new school seat can cost upwards of 30K per kid.

    Spotsylvainia charges about a 15K proffer.

    Where do you think the other 15K comes from?

    ___________________________________

    So expand this to transportation

    1/2 the costs on existing residents
    (you can argue about gas tax/tolls/ aka whatever funding mechanisim you want)

    but then who pays the other 1/2

    should we proffer builders again
    and hit the new residents?

    should the county pay for it (ala Prince William concept and others/house land use idea)?

    should the regional transportation group pay for it (part of House and Kaine plans)?

    should the state pay for it (Some senate plans)?

    with all the pay for it scenarios you have the (tax vs toll decision again)

    That is the million dollar question

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Bloggers:

    Virginia enjoys one of the best
    job growth rates in the country.

    Certain regions in Virginia, Northern Virginia, Charlottesville,
    Metropolitan Richmond, Roanoke
    Valley and Hampton Roads have low
    unemployment rates, some of these
    communities have some of the lowest
    rates in the country.

    Thus, Virginia needs new residents
    to fill jobs we are creating.

    It is estimated that over the next two decades the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan Area will generate 1.65 million new jobs, add 2.0 million residents and generate the
    need for 833,000 new housing units.

    These are facts that prove to be
    hurdles for some of your theories.

    Virginia needs a state planning
    department, better regional planning via our existing planning
    district commissions, state programs to encourage new growth
    to take place in our cities and
    our older suburbs, new light rail,
    rail and streetcar systems to meet
    our transportation needs, more funds for METRO and VRE and better
    leadership to create a plan for our
    state similar to the Envision Utah
    program.

    Cheers!!!!!

    Sincerely,

    Rodger Provo
    Fredericksburg

  13. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    Rodger who and how should pay for all that 🙂

  14. Loudoun Insider Avatar
    Loudoun Insider

    Too many people miss the bigger national issues at play in NOVA growth, namely the continuing out of control growth of the federal government and most recently government contractors. This is precisely what is fueling the growth in this region. Add to that the large numbers of illegal aliens working at the construction sites. And from a national security perspective, should we have so mcuh national security infrastructure massed around the capitol? The bottom line is (and I guess I know that this is unattainable wishful thinking)slow down or even reverse the growth of federal government and expenditures and we slow down the growth of NOVA. This may put a little hurt on NOVA business men, but is better for the country in the long run.

  15. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    The federal government needs to do more on the more places side of the argument

    The FBI office in (Fort Royal? somewhere in the burbs exurbs) is a start (although greater distances to get to court is a whole nother issue so maybe some other agencies should have moved first anyway)

    Somebody once told me we should move the pentagon to Fredricksburg or even Kansas.

    Of course as you hinted LI there is always a doubleedged sword. If the federal government started moving or quit growing less jobs would be created, less new residents, economy stagnates, property values decrease, regionwide recession.

    Thats why there is always so much fuss over BRAC whole community economies are affected by the decisions.

  16. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Let’s address this for what it is – a totally bogus red herring.

    No, it is not. I love it when people scream “red herring, red herring.” It usually means they have no other answer.

    To answer some of the points, housing is a PRIORITY for everyone.

    Want to know what the impediments to workforce housing rezoning cases are? Here are some:
    1. Cash Proffers
    2. Water/Sewer Impact Fees
    3. Architectual Proffers — In other words, the County wants the developer to proffer a certain square footage or a certain construction material
    4. Other Proffers – Usually, there is someone wanting a rec field or some sort of passive open space, etc. Also, developers a re sometimes pressured to build at a density less than what would normally be permitted.
    5. NIMBYs who show up when a developer brings forward a project and say things like, “We already have enough affordable housing in our community; we don’t need anymore.”

    These are just a few….

  17. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    Jim:
    Thank you for an excellent post.

    “The solution to Virginia’s infrastructure woes is not giving fast-growth governments more power to abuse. It’s re-restructuring our governance systems, tax codes and zoning codes.”

    The comments have wondered. Some comments provide favorite solutions. Some comment on current problems. Others solve one part of the problem. None addresses your proposed path to the solution to Virginia’s infrastructure woes.

    Addressing tax codes and zoning codes is not enough. We also have to address our public investment policies. My questions are:

    Should we reward rate of growth or new residents?

    Should we continue to place students in trailers instead of new classrooms?

    Should we continue to reward counties where drivers average more miles or should we help counties where road building is more expensive?

    I look forward to your take on this part of the problem.

  18. Freedom Works Avatar
    Freedom Works

    I submit that the government has no right to criminalize the construction of decent housing for humans anywhere.
    Zoning got started to keep whorehouses and bars away from churches, not to ban productive citizens from living in a community. Now zoning is used to tell honest hardworking people that they cannot live anywhere near their jobs.
    The socialist education infrastructure costs taxpayers money, unlike the free market infrastructure for grocery stores, private schools, and movie theatres.
    If you want to be a socialist, fine, but do not tell a homebuilder he cannot build more housing because it might impact your socialist programs.
    Restrictive zoning (the socialization of property rights) has dramatically increased the price of housing in Northern Virginia due to a severely restricted supply. This is not a free market and it screws the working poor and the lower middle class who face ridiculous housing costs and or long commutes.
    Many big developers like the system, and some even brag about their strategy of building apartments in “supply constrained markets” like Fairfax County because they can charge higher rents and are protected from competition.
    A number of you calling for higher impact fees on new home construction overlook the additional tax revenue from new housing that can support additional bonding to pay the additional infrastructure costs. Most government schools are built and later renovated using bonds that are paid off over a very long time. Most of the new housing that NIMBYs fight would actually sell for substantially more than the median home value in Fairfax County, and would therefore contribute far more in future tax revenue than over half of the existing homes in Fairfax County.
    Meanwhile in other parts of the world… ”Slum tourism” stirs controversy in Kenya.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070209/lf_nm/kenya_slum_dc_2
    “…”People are getting tired of the Maasai Mara and wildlife. No one is enlightening us about other issues. So I’ve come up with a new thing — slum tours,” enthused James Asudi, general manager of Kenyan-based Victoria Safaris.
    But not everyone in Kenya is waxing so lyrical about the trail of one-day visitors treading the rubbish-strewn paths, sampling the sewage smell, and photographing the tin-roof shacks that house 800,000 of the nation’s poorest in a Nairobi valley…”

  19. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Aside from the issue of whether we grow “smart” or not there is a simple equation.

    People need adequate infrastructure.

    If this is not adequate infrastructure, people are going to blame their elected and throw them out of office.

    NMM asked about equitable sharing of road infrastructure which IS the 600 lb gorilla.

    Three kinds:

    local, subdivision, rural, minor arterial

    regional – major artierial and regionally-used interstates

    State/Nation – Roads that “connect” regions and states.

    Funding –

    local – subdivision roads that are cul-de-saced, do not function as collectors are the resonsibility of the folks who want this amenity for where they live.

    local – connecting collectors – local taxpayer responsibility.
    and localities get their share of the gas tax.

    Regional – roads major collectors, interstates used for commuting are congestion priced toll roads

    Extra Regional/State/National – funded with gas tax for maintenance and tolls for new roads.

    basic modus operandi – those who wish to drive far and long – intensively at rush hour – need to pay their fair share of what it costs to provide them with adequate communting infrastructure.

  20. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: red herring

    what this is about is essentially subsidized housing for those with 70K salaries who cannot afford a home in Fairfax.

    This is not about workforce housing.

    Folks may or may not know it but Federall subsidized housing does not need to go through a rezone process. They are expempt BECAUSE the housing is actually for people who need shelter as opposed to those who have pretty good salaries but don’t want to live in housing commensurate with their salaries.

    That’s the bottom line.

    No matter whether you are in NYC, or LA, or Tyson’s Corner you can get a job with a better than average salary but the reason why that salary is better than average is because the living expenses are “better than average”.

    The bargain is ..you take the higher salary then you try to figure out how to get the housing you want for the least amount of money even if you have to drive 100 miles a day.

    This is not “shelter” for the frozen masses.

    For the record – I would favor a law that stated that if a proposed project was workforce housing that they be exempt from some or most of the proffers.

    Spotsylvania has actually discussed doing that.

    But it’s like I said from the top, this is not about “shelter”, this is about developers, land speculators and profits.

    or do the folks who think this is really about “shelter” think that all the existing teachers, police officers, service workers are all huddled together in a tent city somewhere because there is no available housing?

    These folks have housing.. because the market DOES provide it.

    It’s not what they prefer to live in but it is what they can afford.

    It’s the same deal with the folks that make the 70K salaries except that some folks want to portray them as “victims” who will “freeze” if there is not affordable housing for them.

    what a double load of ……

  21. E M Risse Avatar

    This discussion needs a dose of reality about the nature “growth.”

    As Jim W. noted above the comments here vary in perspective but they are all on one end of the teter totter.

    For a different perspective on the long-term viablity of “growth,” try “Post-Growthism;” From Smart Growth to Sustaiable Develoment” by Daniel M. Warner in the journal Environmental Pratice 8 (3) September 2006.

    Warner’s commentary was distributed recently by ASAP, the Charlottesville / Albemarle group that is working to establish a population holding capacity in the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan.

    As we suggest in our Backgrounder “New Metric for Citizen Well Being” there is no alternative to Fundamental Change. The traditional view of “growth” is a big stumbling block.

    EMR

  22. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    This issue is very much about workforce housing. Yes, people will find housing, but does it make sense for them to have to find it miles and miles from job centers because of anti-housing policies?

    To those who extol that the market will provide housing, I say fine, let the free market work and quit trying to constrict it with anti-housing policies.

  23. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: fundamental change

    Would I be wrong in saying that fundamental change in a Democracy will come only with concurrence of a majority of voters?

    Would I be similarily wrong if I were to posit that if a Developer made a proposal for a much higher than “normal” density configured according to the best New Urbanists Principles that many citizens would be still rightly concerned with impacts to roads and other infrastructure.

    Put the two together and what do you get?

    You get people up in arms when someone makes a high-density reform proposal no matter whether it is New Urbanist or not.

    How do you have fundamental change until the folks who have the concerns about the infrastructure are convinced that the higher density will actually be better and result in LESS impacts?

    Isn’t this an issue that must be addressed before fundamental change can go forward?

  24. E M Risse Avatar

    Larry:

    You are absolutely right!

    That is why a number of us have been working for several years to get PROPERTY DYNAMICS off the ground.

    PORPERTY DYNAMICS is a education process to help citizens come to a clear understanding of the cumulative result of the current trajectory and why their best interest is served by Fundamental Change.

    If we are preserve a democracy with a free market, there is no alternative.

    Keep up the good work….

    EMR

  25. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Yes, people will find housing, but does it make sense for them to have to find it miles and miles from job centers because of anti-housing policies?”

    If one is truly interested in moving things forward on the growth issue, you have to honestly ask yourself WHY anti-housing sentiment exists.

    And then you have to want to meaningfully engage the issues that result in people wanting to throw out of office – those elected who would approve more housing.

    If instead, you try to ignore them and/or use money with legislators to attempt “end arounds”, you will end up with a development environment that is unreliable and unstable in terms of approvals and the ability to move forward with costly delays.

    … because what will happen is what has happened in Loudoun with one set of BOS developing one set of policies which are then overturned with a new set.. until the next election.. and so on and so forth.

    When residents are unhappy with the impacts of growth.. you set the stage for a chaos which is harmful to all concerned.

    Until both sides can meet and collaboratively develop a way to go forward… bad stuff will happen.

  26. Andrea Epps Avatar
    Andrea Epps

    As we all know, it becomes more difficult to accomplish anything within a year of an election. Some localities even resort to extortion and blatant manipulation of the zoning and subdivision ordinance to “control growth” The mentality seems to be…Well, we have spent the last three years OBLIVIOUS TO THE PRINCIPLES OF SOUND LAND USE, Oops, we better do something pretty quick.

    In addition to many of the ideas previously listed, we need to educate the public. Like it or not. Humans are resistant to change by nature but the status quo isn’t working anymore. The average “citizen activist’ doesn’t understand anything about sustainable land use or settlement patterns. However, repetition is persuasive and the general public will usually believe whatever they hear the most.

    And Tyler, you know I don’t like the proffer system either, but around here, home prices aren’t affected. These people don’t care. They buy the houses anyway, and then complain when the county doesn’t put all of the new facilities in their neighborhood. What are you going to do when they start with the subdivision proffer for transportation? I can’t wait to see how long it will take before that one is challenged!

  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    You know folks don’t care if there are 1000 people living around them or 100,000 people living around them if they can get out of their subdivision and drive to the store or work without so much hassle that they not do it if they had a choice.

    Ditto with schools. It don’t matter if there are a gazillion people around and about as long as their kid has a seat at a regular school or they can get a book from a libary… or join a soccer team or expect 911 to show up.

    They key to this – is the have adequate infrastructure.

    It’s when these things don’t happen that people get upset.

    Proffers don’t come anywhere close to paying for the full impact of new homes.

    In most places, the proffers come somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the full costs.

    The rest are picked up by existing taxpayers in their tax rates.

    There is no free lunch here.

    Even if developers can talk BOS into approving a project without adequate mitigation for it’s infrastructure impacts… sooner or later.. if they don’t insure as future projects are approved that infrastructure is brought online..

    congestion and crowded conditions start to affect people and their response is to blame the folks who approved the growth without requiring adequate infrastructure.

    So the BOS has two choices.

    Get voted out of office.

    Or tell voters they are instituting a rezone morotorium.

    or perhaps there is a 3rd choice that I’m not seeing.

    The development community DOES have a dog in this hunt.

    In the long run – they should WANT a process that insures that infrastructure comes online because if they don’t.. it will come back to bite them ultimately.

    With regard to roads – JLARC has it right. Check it out.

  28. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    Heres your third option a community dialogue

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/braddock/braddocktomorrow.htm

    posted without comment for now 😛

    The Council of Governments presentations are especially good

  29. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    And Tyler, you know I don’t like the proffer system either, but around here, home prices aren’t affected.

    Home prices are affected. Anytime you increase the costs involved in construction, you increase the cost of the final product. According to our economist, the cost of a proffer shows up at a factor of about 1.25 in the final price.

    Larry — I hear you loud and clear about adequate infrastruture, and in fact, I agree with you (scary ain’t it?) that there would be little in the way of an anti-growth sentiment if there was no traffic congestion or school overcrowding. That’s why we have consistently supported adequate funding based on dependable, broad-based revenue streams for these items.

  30. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Bloggers:

    Virginia’s failure at the state,
    region and local level to have
    good planning is the root cause
    of many of our problems.

    We need better, more complete
    planning that intergrates our
    many needs.

    Oregon has excellent planning
    concepts. The Portland Metropolitan Area has one of the
    few regional elected governments
    in the country whose primary
    mission is regional planning.

    EMR the efforts in Albemarle
    County to cap growth and their
    population will force more growth
    in outlying counties. Job growth
    in Charlottesville and Albemarle
    County will continue. Many workers
    now live in suburban subdivisions
    in counties further out for they
    can’t find affordable housing closer to their jobs. Thus, the
    state has additional traffic jams
    on roads such as Rt. 29 because of
    these workers commutes. Large lot
    subdivisions all over Albemarle
    County has added to that problem
    for residents commute into the city
    on two lane country roads not suited for such traffic.

    Planning, planning, planning. We do a poor job of doing good planning in Virginia.

    Sincerely,

    Rodger Provo
    Fredericksburg

  31. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “That’s why we have consistently supported adequate funding based on dependable, broad-based revenue streams for these items.”

    How about explain more in detail what these revenue streams would be.

    Also, you mentioned water/sewer as an example, I believe, of adding financial burdens to the selling price of homes.

    I see water/sewer a the correct revenue model.

    It has two components. Capital facilities and Operational facilities.

    Everyone pays user fees for operation and new hookups are sold and the money used in a revolving fund to extend water/sewer when/where appropriate.

    If we had such a model with roads, we’d have much more adequate local road infrastructure including money for major arterials.

    Beyond that.. inter and intra Regional roads and Interstates used for Regional Commuting – all of these need to be tolled with congestion pricing in my view.

    It will not only set up a regime to manage congestion but it will generate the money needed for critical road improvements and finally it directly targets those who use and need the infrastructure.

    The is a separate path from the concept that “smart(er) growth/new urbanism would lessen the need for more roads.

    My belief is that – that path will take quite a long time to produce actual results and that – in the mean time – if we are to head off a widening moratorium mindset – we absolutely cannot ignore the infrastructure issue.

    And that means – that if the development community continues to hold firm on an idea that citizens will not buy and the net result is governance gridlock – I hold the development community responsible for a failure to proceed.

    I will not that down where I live developers right now are utilizing CDAs in very good ways to set up special assessment districts to pay for new infrastructure – as those development are being built – the infrastrucuture is built at the same time .. integrated … so that you have new development AND adequate mitigation.

    Citizens SUPPORT this.

    That applaud the fact that they see the infrastructure being built at the same time the new development is being constructed.

    If the development community as a whole – wants to do something constructive rather than obstructive – they need to bring to the table a process similiar to what I have illustrated.

    If the development community continues to pretend it’s not their responsibility – then they will be, in my view, responsible for an increasingly more volatile and unreliable development environment that leads to higher financial risks for entrepreneurs.

    Worse – they’ll be inducing more local and state level controls that despite the development communities best lobbying efforts will gradually move forward as voters start to hold their General Assembly elected – responsible.

    It’s time to move off the dime and get into the game..

  32. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    On the balanced communities paradigm, I wanted to point out a paradox (at least to me) with respect to effects to “educate” the public that the “right kind” of high density development is beneficial.

    The paradox is this.

    The Development community, the “affordable” housing advocates and the “American Dream” folks are all in favor of this but they are in favor of it EVERYWHERE.

    So if you implement this concept in a place like Fredericksburg, what you are doing is encouraging and accelerating long distance commuting.. even more congestion and even more adverse impacts on a community (Fburg area) that simply does not have enough other adequate infrastructure especially their own local roads and schools.

    So EMR talks about fundamental change in Governance.

    Is the way that would work in theory that the folks in Fairfax would “see the light” and the folks in Fredericksburg would also the the “light” but their “light” would be 180 degrees from the Fairfax Light?

    i.e. Fredericksburg would be rightgeous to be opposed to high density development that attracted more commuters rather than local workers?

    Tell me how a law would be written that would have the opposite effect in some areas than others.

  33. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    Tyler:

    Right on with your reply to Larry. “There would be little in the way of an anti-growth sentiment if there was no traffic congestion or school overcrowding.” That is why I say that the State is investing our money in the wrong places. Highway money should be invested in ending congestion, not adding to the travel miles. School building money should be invested first in eliminating trailers, and replacing outdated buildings.

    On the price of homes, you are probably correct saying “a proffer shows up at a factor of about 1.25 in the final price.” It shows up as less house, or a smaller lot, not as an increase in the final price. The final price is determined by the market.

  34. Anonymous Avatar

    Messrs. Craddock and Wamsley,

    If cash proffers are a problem, then why is the median home price in Henrico County higher than in Chesterfield County, according to the Richmond Board of Realtors via the Metro Chamber’s website? Henrico has no cash proffers while Chesterfield does.

  35. E M Risse Avatar

    Roger:

    Better “planning, planning, planning” at the nation-state, regional, subregional, community, village, neighborhood, cluster scales (all of them, not just the levels ones with existing governance structures) will help in the short run.

    Just planning will not help in the long run.

    How long is the long run?

    How soon will the price of critical resouces be out of reach for citizens in the bottom half of the economic food chain?

    Larry:

    You are almost there!

    Get out that map and plot the area needed for Balanced, leafy, green Alpha Communities.

    However in the long run citizens must find alternatives to “growth.”
    See “A New Metric for Citizen Well Being.”

    In organic systems (like human settlement patterns) there is no future for a annual percentage growth of any tangible, material parameter.

    Why? Everyone you can name beside safety and happiness depends on consumption of fininte resources.

    EMR

  36. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The Reality Check exercises in both the Wash Metro Area and in the Fredericksburg Area started with a “no-compromise” premise and that premise was that census projections were sacrsanct.

    In other words, both Wash Metro and Fredericksburg population growth would be based on the rate and extent that they grew in the past.

    (not sure about job projections but that’s another subject).

    Anyhow, Fredericksburg Reality Check STARTs with a premise that it IS going to grow – gangbusters.

    Implicit in that assumption, I believe, was a tacit concurrence with the fact that as much as 40% of that projected growth would, in fact, be commuters to Northern Va.

    Thus we started with the LEGO blocks .. that represented the expected population increase and thus we were directed to “find some place on the map” for the increased density.

    Then the developers in the crowd, with the concurrence of many others including citizens and environmental groups decided that DENSE lego blocks around existing transportation corridors was the “right” answer and much more preferable to “Greenfield” development.

    General agreement also that Dense development near existing transportation corridors was much more likely to be workforce housing “friendly” than traditional single family homes subdivisions developed in Greenfields.

    So my question is this.

    Is Reality Check .. in terms of it’s Census projection presumptions and dense growth near existing transportation corridors CONSISTENT with New urbanist and Balance Community principles OR
    are they divergent instead?

    If there was a “Balanced Community” version of Reality Check, would the LEGO map look substantially different between Fredericksburg and Wash Metro?

  37. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    8:11 AM Anonymous — Costs for new homes are actually higher in Chesterfield, according to the data I see from Integra. At least that was the case the last time I checked. I am guessing that the REALTORS’ data is for new and exsting homes.

    Larry — Two points.

    First, infrastructure improvements benefit everyone, and so, everyone should share in paying for them. When I say broad-based, I mean things like the sales tax, income tax, etc.

    Now, I know you that you are saying that new home buyers should bear the infastructure costs associated with their home. If that is the case, why not go and back-bill existing homeowners so that they too can pay for the full impact of their dwelling unit?

    Regarding, water and sewer impact/tap fees, they may be considered more fair insumuch as exting homes, along with new and existing businesses, are charged when they connect (not just new residential). But, that cost still affects the price of a home and the ability to provide workforce housing.

  38. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    Hold up EMR

    Is your “final solution” (quotes on purpose :-p) population controls

    It’s not going to happen

    Federal government/contractors will continue to grow and create more jobs

    Rodger posted the COG numbers earlier

    It is estimated that over the next two decades the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan Area will generate 1.65 million new jobs, add 2.0 million residents and generate the
    need for 833,000 new housing units

    These people are going to need housing and additional infrasturcture will be needed to support them

    We are going to have to “grow”

    ___________________________________

    Tyler

    “That’s why we have consistently supported adequate funding based on dependable, broad-based revenue streams for these items.”

    The conflict of course is what role (if any) should the builders/developers play in providing funds to make this happen (via proffers)

    ___________________________________

    Jim W I agree with you too

    “That is why I say that the State is investing our money in the wrong places. Highway money should be invested in ending congestion, not adding to the travel miles. School building money should be invested first in eliminating trailers, and replacing outdated buildings.”

    But… meanwhile people keep coming so unless you do a growth freeze and wait for everything to “catch up” (which I view as unpractical the business and jobs keep rolling in and we already have low unemployment) you will have to increase your revenue somehow to simultaneously adequately fund the infrasturcture from past development while at the same time funding infrastructure from the future development

    The transportation funding ideas and proffer suggestions provide a path to pay for new infrastructure but how/who is going to pay to upgrade the infrastructure based on older growth which was never adequatley built in the first place

    Or in other words, it seems we have almost gotten a handle on how to handle new growth by creating infrastructure simultaneously and using proffers but can we do this and fix the unfinished needs from past growth simultaneously?

    ___________________________________

    Larry

    Yes there would be a difference the problem with Washington Metro is that many of the close in places are already built out. Washington Metro is much more mature than Fburg metro. EMR hates this but the political reality in Fairfax county is that Fairfax is built out.

    Additionally as has been mentioned by Ray road capacity is also maxed out in many places or it will require major funding to expand. Are we going to replace the 14th street bridge, American Legion Bridge. or the Rosslyn Tunnel on 66. Bridges are the actual choke points.

    The plan for Washington DC is along three corridors

    Continuing to grow Tysons Corner actually does make sense to me (Sorry TMT). You don’t need to cross a bridge to get there Once the 95 and 495 HOT lanes come on line there will be additional lane capacity for people coming from the South. and for people coming from the West Route 7 the Toll Road and the new metro line will all be able to provide capacity.

    I am hazy on the road Geography out “west” but I assume if more growth comes to Manassas/Reston/Centreville/Chantilly the roads can be built/expanded as well. The two lane four lane split on I-66 keeps getting pushed further West and the Orange Line will eventually be built out further West to address that corridor.

    The final link is connecting the 28 N-S spur. 28 has undergone massive improvements to improve flow and a BRT/lightrail/metro/some mass transit between Manassas and Reston is on the table also.

    So in summary if you can picture a triangle on its side like a pennant. Tysons Corner is the front point. Reston is the upper left point and Manassas is the lower left point.

    Heavy Sunday Reading Material

    http://www.mwcog.org/publications/departmental.asp?CLASSIFICATION_ID=6&SUBCLASSIFICATION_ID=27

    Click on the first publicantion and look at the disconnect between page 8 and page 9

  39. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “If that is the case, why not go and back-bill existing homeowners so that they too can pay for the full impact of their dwelling unit?”

    Because, in fact, even with infrastructure costs on new homes, it does not cover the entire bill which is picked up by other taxpayers

    and more important, you have a failed system because it was wrong from the start and if you want/expect a better, more reliable, less risky development environment you won’t get it by stonewalling by claiming that past wrongs must be righted before you agree to reform.

    The current approach is NOT sustainable and it is resulting in signficant instability in governance (BOS thrown out) and an unstable and risky development environment.

    Are you so focused on righting past wrongs that you’d further harm to your own cause just to make a point?

    Move on – to solutions or else be prepared for more adverse impacts to development businesses.

    I don’t think you can have it both ways.

    Apparently the only thing the development community will respond to is not the sight of the oncoming train but lookup up at the underside of it as it passes over them.

    Is this smart? Is it constructive?
    Will it lead to a better business environment?

    If greed is your first and only goal.. go for it but be prepared for a hard ride.

  40. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “but how/who is going to pay to upgrade the infrastructure based on older growth which was never adequatley built in the first place”

    I can tell you what if futile and unproductive.

    And that is to think the way to fix pollution is to go after the ones who originally caused it.

    Same thing with other problems financial created by earlier wrongheaded decisions.

    It IS .. FUTILE to go after previous users of the roads to backdate their bill…

    Roads, especially mega/commuting type infrastructure cost big BIG bucks.

    Springfield Interchange cost so much that is affected funding for the rest of Virginia.

    Ditto with the Wilson Bridge.

    The reality is that we are going to acquire enough funding to build major new infrastructure much less try to optimize the existing with a focus to congestion reduction

    .. with a gas tax.

    A 10cent increase will not touch what is needed even if it were politically feasible.

    Where does that leave you?

    TOLLs … and Congestion Pricing

    It will raise the money needed and it is, much more importantly, a sustainable source of continuous and reliable funding so that longer-term plans can actually be made and funded and brought online rather than us keeping these BOGUS construction lists… that have no build date on them.

    The major concern that I and you should have is that if we go to a TOLL system that we keep the money away from VDOT’s focus on new lane miles rather than congestion relief.

    You want that money to STAY in the NoVa region and to be administered by elected NoVa people and not let VDOT get it’s hands on it.

  41. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    Yeah so I forgot about Maryland with Tysons Corner

    Will Virginia and Maryland work together with their hot lane proposals.

    What will happen at the American Legion Bridge

    another reason why we need better planning eh Rodger haha.

  42. E M Risse Avatar

    Larry:

    First, there is little relationship between New Urbanism (or New urbanism) and Balanced Communities in sustainable New Urban Regions. They are different things based on different theses, principles and calculations.

    Second, the Reality Check map and a Balanced Communities in sustainable New Urban Regions map would be similar for the first 5 or 10 years, then they would diverge as population (world, nation-state and region) stopped growing and trended down. But consumption per capita has to stop growing too. So does the consumption of all nonrenewable resources. (Of course if population continues to grow, some resouces that are thought of as renewable become nonrenewable.)

    As Dainel Warner says in the article cited above, and as we state in “The Shape of the Future,” growth is a dead end.

    Smart Growth is better than Dumb Growth but continued growth, as Edward Abby noted, is the mentality of a cancer cell.

    Nation-state or regional population growth and per capita consumption cannot be sustained. Those in the top 80 percent of the economic food chain are not near the limit in this New Urban Region yet but citizens must start adjusting our expectations and actions to reflect physical reality.

    The evolution of an urban society, the Industrial Revolution and technology gave humans the chance to loosen their belt and imporve the quality of life of those farther down the economic food chain but there are limits. As we note in The Shape of the Future, the top 1 / 10 of one percent lived quite well in 1492.

    Will we pass the the limits in our lifetimes, perhaps not but in your childres and you grandchildren’s almost certaintly.

    NoVa Middleman:

    If Fairfax is all built out, why does the population and the jobs continue to grow?

    If Fairfax County grew to at the current rate it will not reach “buildout” at minimum sustainable densities of the already urbanized area for decades.

    You are confusing two things: The urbanized area is underutilized but there is too much area alread urbanized.

    The projected regional and subregional population will easily fit for the next 50 years inside the already urbanized area.

    Land is not the problem, misuse of land is the problem.

    In this New Urban Region we will run out of other resources before we run out of land even at minimum sustainable densities.

    Water and Energy that the bottom half of the economic food chain can afford perhaps. Social Capital is in ever shorter supply. Time to assemble a quality life…

    We all need to read our physics, overcome Geographic Illiteracy and Spacial Ignorance and take a deep breath before we assume that “growth” is a viable long-term strategy.

    EMR

  43. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I note in WaPo today that the planners have “downzoned” rowhouse areas that were being converted to higher-density Condos…

    NMM – re: Fairfax “built-out”

    If Fairfax sits on Land and NYC sits on land – what is to keep Fairfax from continue to redevelop until it reaches a density equivalent to NYC or Chicago or other major cities?

    I get the idea from TMT and you and others that in your own mind – you think Fairfax has gotten dense enough… and/or too dense for the infrastructure it has..

    … but wouldn’t that same view imposed on NYC in it’s infancy kept it from being what it is today?

    I’m not advocating this necessarily but the practical limits of density in Fairfax are nowhere near other existing examples – right?

    And a similar example that you may or may not find amusing.

    The folks in Fredericksburg say that they are already as dense as they want to be – and a favorite bumper sticker that tells how they think about higher densities says simply “Don’t Fairfax Fredericksburg”.

    So when the Wash DC area did Reality Check – which presumed a ton of new jobs in the next 20 years – folks dutifully took those high density LEGOs and stacked them ever higher on the part of the map labelled “Fairfax”.

    Even the Smart(er) Growth folks think Fairfax will continue to grow.

    Their vision is that the more it grows the more folks will use transit and less private auto – just like is the case in NYC.

  44. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Because, in fact, even with infrastructure costs on new homes, it does not cover the entire bill which is picked up by other taxpayers

    Larry, you didn’t answer the question. What I asked was that if the above is true, and I don’t think it is, but suposing it is, then it must also be true that localities lost/lose money on existing homes. That being the case, why not ALSO go after those units with some sort of impact fee designed to make sure that they also pay what you might call their “fair share.”

    Move on – to solutions or else be prepared for more adverse impacts to development businesses.

    We have. We have consistently supported broad-based infrastructure funding. Fairness questions aside, broad-based sources (e.g. sales tax, income taxes, etc.) are more stable than other sources.

    In addition, we have embraced the use of CDA’s, something that you were discussing earlier in the thread. I might add that the resistance to CDAs, something we all should be able to agree on, does not come from our quarters.

  45. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    political will not reality

    Of course fairfax isn’t truly built out but much like Loudoun there is very little political will to increase density.

    Metro West got killed because of this and Tysons is facing great scrutiny

    To really “resolve” all of these complex issues I think we need a Bacon’s Rebellion commenters face-to-face meeting

    And after we all agree we can present it to the electeds 🙂

  46. They have the same bumper sticker in Fauquier “Don’t Fairfax Fauqier”

    You don’t suppose they are both funded by the same special interest groups, do you?

  47. Recently we have seen a number of wter main breaks. In a news story on the subject, the on site engineer remarked that most of these were in areas that were more than 50 years old.

    Should the landowners in these areas be expected to kick in proffers for all this late night and emergency serice, which is due to fifty years of deferred maintenance, which, in turn, is deu to not paying enough in property taxes to properly fund the infrastructure?

    How much of this kind of thing do you suppose is buried in the proffers for new homes, simply because it is politically expedient.

    We see the same thing in homeowners associations for “planne communities”. They find they are not paying enough to keep up their own infrastructure, so they now charge new residents an additional intitiation fee.

  48. If New York was being built from scratch under today’s rules, it would never be built. New york has nowhere near the infrastructure it needs, and the whole enterprise is grossly unsustainable.

    The only thing that keeps it going is water from upstate, garbage going to Virginia, electricity from other places, and commuters from New Jersey.

    If Fairfax is working to prevent that from happening, then maybe there is some hope we can learn form our mistakes.

  49. nova_middle_man has hit it exactly on the head with his pennant/triangle theory.

    We are already 20 years behind the curve on this. The entrance to 28 North from Manassas is backed up on the shoulders of 66 for miles – IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. Some of it is probably long distance commuters who have taken up driving to Reston and Chantilly as the job base has moved over time.

    Larry is right, The Wilson Bridge and Springfield interchange have affected funding for the rest of Virginia, and rightly so, because they are also 20 years too late. The thing that pushed the bridge forward was that the old one was in danger of falling down. Part of the reason for that was that it was prssed into service to carry all of the 95 traffic, which wasn’t in the original “plan”.

    Fairfax is not technically “built out” but many areas in Fairfax have nearly reached the limits imposed by the comprehensive plan. Further desniication is going to rquire tearing down stuff that is still serviceable, and that is going to raise the price.

    The reality check exercise was scripted to obtain the desired result. Some of what reality check envisoned will come to pass. IF you are wildly optomistic, and you think that 15% of those lego blocks will become real, eventually, that still leaves you looking for places for 850,000 people.

    There is another similar exercise which is carried out. In it people describe wwithout limitation what they would like their town to look like. In the second half of the exercise the professionals step in and redesign the site as close a possible to the expressed desires, but within the limitation of zoning law. The end result is shockingly similar to what we call sprawl.

    But, if I’m wrong, and we do buid something much like New York only smaller, then we too can look forward to the longest commutes and the highest apartment costs in the nation.

    In that case EMR will be right, and the land speculators will win out at our expense.

  50. “REZONES are NOT for housing for those that will freeze if the rezone is not approved.

    This is so BOGUS it’s hardly responding to.”

    I don’t think so.

    First, let’s agree that there are hardcore homeless – people who are not going to be sheltered except through charity and maybe force.

    Outside of that there are the people who double up to share the rent in low cost flats and group homes. The more places that are available, the lower the prices will be, and the more will be available for rent. See the Miami Condo boom for an example.

    When there are enough homes for the wealthiest of those that live in poor or modest homes to move up, then more poor and modest homes are available for those that need them.

    When there are not enough homes for the poorest of those that live in modest housing, or not enough icome to pay the taxes or the rent, then people are on the streets, as in the great depression.

    And more density isn’t necessarily the answer. There are high rise slums, too.

    Rezones are not for housing the homeless,they are to make money for the developers and the eventual owners. If the eventual owners thought otherwise, they wouldn’t buy. But the eventual owners are going to move out of somewhere, and when enough of them can move, the prices will drop in the areas they left.

    If they drop enough, at least a few people who are trying to get off the street will be able to do so.

    Everyone who owns property is either a speculator, a liar or a fool. Even those who have had family properties for generations speculate that they will be able to pass it on to their heirs.

    If there is someone self serving in all this, it is those that got theirs and now refuse the same to others.

  51. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “why not ALSO go after those units with some sort of impact fee designed to make sure that they also pay what you might call their “fair share.”

    I assume you mean for “by-right” homes that are currently exempt from proffers.

    This is interesting. It has been my impression that the development community is opposed to this.

    The citizen groups that I know of support this and I do also.

    Some counties in Va NOW have a smaller version of this – transportation impact fees which I think is a huge step in the right direction but it require some care or else the counties are going to screw it up.

    You asked earlier about earlier folks who have evaded fees.

    My response is this – to set up a tax for homes that are resold that did not have proffers attached originally.

    My motivation is to NOT have chaos in governance and to NOT have a development environment that is unreliable, risky and, in general so unpredictable that it adds extras costs and delays the projects that are beneficial and needed.

    As long as a lack of provisioning adequate infrastructure is part of the equation and as long as BOS are elected – you will got get the desired environment.

    CDAs, TIFs, and other approaches including HOAs for some subdivisions roads are all approaches that need to be promoted and most citizens support them when they know what they are.

    Who would be opposed to them?

  52. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “…Should the landowners in these areas be expected to kick in proffers for all this late night and emergency serice”

    Ray – there are two sides to revenue – CIPs for new infrastructure and user fees for existing infrastructure.

    The deterioration and maintenance of an existing system is allocated to the users of that system.

    Part of the water/sewer fees are supposed to be set aside for what everyone knows will be required maintenance.

    Is this a confusion for you?

  53. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “….Part of the reason for that was that [Wilson Bridge] it was prssed into service to carry all of the 95 traffic, which wasn’t in the original “plan”.

    Ray – more confusion.

    The PURPOSE of the interstates was NOT for local/regional commuting but rather CONNECTING the country.

    If Washington Metro had not “used” the interestates for local commuting – they would still function just fine for their original purpose.

    The Interstates have been co-opted for commuting.

    This is why folks think it is free.

    It was there.. already built.. so why not use it for local commuting ALSO?

    That worked until you ran out of capacity.

    The reason Wilson Bridge had to be expanded was not for I-95 East Coast Traffic.

    It was for Wash Metro commuters and instead of commuters paying for the upgrade.. people who live in Kansas were charged…

  54. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “In that case EMR will be right, and the land speculators will win out at our expense.”

    What it boils down to…

    is… do we REALLY want to PLAN for growth that we know is inevitble?

    EMR has a plan. Does Fairfax accommodate EMR’s Plan?

    Does Fairfax’s Comp Plan designate enough future land-use for the growth expected?

    If it does not – then it is a graphic statement that they do not wish to plan but rather react.

    If Fairfax didn’t do anything else other than look at the census projections and then engage with the residents a dialogue similiar to Reality Check to decide WHERE to put that growth and HOW to do it – they would gain citizen buy-in and concurrence.

    Not unanimous, not without critics and not without a certain number of folks who say “stop it” but a concurrence from a majority about how to go forward.

  55. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “…I don’t think so.

    First, let’s agree that there are hardcore homeless – people who are not going to be sheltered except through charity and maybe force.”

    People who need assistance get assistance from the government in the form of subsidized housing – which by the way – is usuall exempt from local zoning laws – trumped by the Fed need.

    Anyone who does not need assistance should not have housing subsidies so that they can essentially buy a “better” house.

    “Everyone who owns property is either a speculator, a liar or a fool.”

    Ray – would you say that anyone who has a used car to sell.. or a used furniture… or a used tractor is a “speculator, a liar or a fool”?

    Wanting to get the best price for something you own that you no longer want is not speculation.

    Speculation is having a lot full of cars to sell….

    It’s not the fact of speculating, i.e. being an entreprenur – it’s the idea that because you wish to engage in land-speculation that you are “owed” something for your efforts.

    Your rationale seems to be like saying that because the locality charges taxes on the car lot and on the cars that they are “preventing” someone from getting as much money as they are entitled to for selling cars.

  56. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    “I assume you mean for “by-right” homes that are currently exempt from proffers.”

    What I meant, and yes, it was a tongue-in-cheek comment, was that you and others claim that residential units do not “pay their own way.” Now, as I have said, I disagree. But, for the sake of this argument, let us assume that you are right. If that were the case, then would it not also stand to reason that existing residential units do not pay their own way. My question was that if it is such a wonderful idea to go after new homes through proffers and impact fees, then would it not also be a good idea to go after existing homes with some sort of one-time “impact fee” to help offset their impact on capital facilities?

  57. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “go back retroactively to charge impact fees”.

    I think this is a no-go legally.

    But if the GA could craft enabling legislation to assess a tax of the sales of homes…

    I feel that two things are needed:

    1. – more money for infrastructure and stop building “on the cheap”.

    2. – A fair and equitable allocation of the costs between existing owners property taxes and new residents purchase price.

    And the proposal has to be a collaborative effort between the Home Builders and other stakeholders – i.e. you’ve got to have wide and deep support of the legislation at the GA level.

    If you have legislation that the Homebuilder and realators support and that citizens groups support – it has decent prospects.

    Having said that. Most of the infrastructure issues are already being more or less handled within the current regime… EXCEPT roads.

    Undeveloped properties, as a condition of approval, should be allocated their share of upgrading the roads that they connect to – beyond the entrances.

    Commercial folks are doing this right now with CDAs and the like but we need an equivalent for residential.

    The money would be put into a revolving CIP fund… much like a revolving water/sewer fund where connection fees are charged and then disbursed when the lines need to be expanded/extended.

    Just imagine what our water/sewer circumstances would be if we used our current road funding approach.

    We’d have terrible service, especially at peak hour. Outages, unreliable service and lack of service – at times.

    When we got around to instituting connection fees.. we stabilzed the process and, more important, we put in place a sustainable approach to the provisioning of infrastructure.

    This is essentially how the counties are going about administering Road impact fees in Stafford.. and now Spotsylvania.

    It’s ironic that this same ability was given a long time ago to NoVa jurisdicitions.. and they never used it. Never understood why.

  58. Toomanytaxes Avatar
    Toomanytaxes

    Why no transportation impact fees in Fairfax County? Gerry Connolly claims that he can negotiate more from proffers.

    Sorry, I cannot stop laughing. But perhaps Connolly really meant to say he could negotiate more in campaign contributions! 😉

  59. nova_middle_man Avatar
    nova_middle_man

    Two links

    Fairfax county can’t even enforce promises to limit traffic

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/23/AR2006122300702_pf.html

    Also check out the comments

    _________________________________

    Residential growth doesn’t pay and a follow on to the original article Jim posted

    Hat tip Delmarva Dealings
    http://www.delmarvadealings.com/

    Actual Article

    http://www.delmarvanow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070211/NEWS01/702110325/1002

  60. Oregon has excellent planning
    concepts. So excellent that they were partially overturned in a statewide referendum, twice.

    The residual effect will be that any future takings through zoning or arbitrarily increased conservation regs will have to be paid for. Now THAT is a valuable planning concept, but I don’t think the full benefit has registered with many Oregonians, yet.

    As for the rest of their planning concepts, it depends on who you talk to whether they are excellent or not.

    The affordability of living in Portland has decreased as the density and lot size has gone down. Children are a rarity in the city. Portland has over invested in transit so its auto congestion is worse than ever. And its growth restrictions have ensured that most growth occurs in Vancouver.

    It’s “vibrant” streets are rife with panhandlers, and every other business seems to be a coffee shop.

    Don’t get me wrong, Portland has many good points, but let’s look at them with a jaundiced eye before we decide to adopt the same rules.

    After all, they were able to extricate themselves from some of the rules because they have the referendum, and we don’t.

  61. “…the practical limits of density in Fairfax are nowhere near other existing examples.”

    Yes, but the other examples are TERRIBLE examples.

  62. “go back retroactively to charge impact fees”.

    I think this is a no-go legally.”

    HOO, HAH!

    Isn’t this exactly what charging tolls on roads that the existing residents have already paid for amounts to?

    Or are you admitting that residential areas are not paying eneough in taxes?

  63. “A fair and equitable allocation of the costs between existing owners property taxes and new residents purchase price.”

    OK, my last comment was extreme. here at least we agree.

    What do you suppose a fair and equitable allocation of costs between existing and new owners is?

    How would we measure it?

    If it turns out to be heavily weighted against existing owners, then how would you propose to factor in the ability to pay?

    Here is my take:

    In the forties and fifties people lived more frugally. This was a result of memries from the thirties, and the deprivations of war. It was als a time at least through the mid sisties when we taxed ourselves to invest heavily in infrastructure, like the national highway system.

    Since then we have been coasting. underinvesting in infrastructure bay at least 15%. the result is run down cities and the resulting exodus.

    How much do you suppose it is going to cost to make up for underinvesting by fifteen percent for the last 35 or 40 years?

    Let me give you a hint. There are an awful lot of prospective retirees who are about to find out.

    I suspect that when we actually have a modeling center in HR that is sufficiently polished to figure this out what an equitable balance between new and existing residents is, that we won’t like the answer.

  64. “…you won’t get it by stonewalling by claiming that past wrongs must be righted before you agree to reform.”

    Isn’t that exactly the argument that is made concerning road funding? That any new funding cannot happen until we fix the past wrongs? That it is wasted on a broken system?

    What is the point of having high initial fees for new homes, if they then become existing homes that are not “paying their share”?

  65. “The deterioration and maintenance of an existing system is allocated to the users of that system.”

    Really?

    So why are they deteriorating?

  66. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Undeveloped properties, as a condition of approval, should be allocated their share of upgrading the roads that they connect to – beyond the entrances.

    This is the case in many instances. For example, in Chesterfield County, developers normally agree to a cash proffer that currently includes $8,942 per home for roads. In addition, they usually agree to additional road improvements based on the County’s throughfare plan.

    “Commercial folks are doing this right now with CDAs and the like but we need an equivalent for residential.”

    I agree. CDAs are the way to go; they would be much better than the current proffer system.

  67. “That is the million dollar question”

    A billion dollar question is more like it. And it is the reason I concede I do not know the answer.

    (Sheesh, you can’t win around here: either you are a know it all or a dodge it all.)

    Here is what I do know. There are literally thousands of web hits that talk about cost of community services as postulated by the American Farmland Trust. This has been carried on to such an extent that it is now pretty much a given that “residential doesn’t pay”.

    There are a handfull of web hits that say, “Hey, wait a minute, this analysis is faulty.”

    Now let’s look at motive. AFH promotes the idea that we need to save farmland because farmers are subsidizing the housing that doesn’t pay its own way.

    From their point of view it makes sense. It is a compelling sales pitch to those with the majority of the votes.

    But to the farmers they supposedly represent, it is a stab in the back. So, go look up the membershp of AFH and see what you find. (I have not done this, so I’m postulating an experiment. If you can find the answer here is the chance to gore me. If I’m wrong, so be it.)

    I doubt it is predominantly farmers, however you categorize them.

    Let’s suppose AFH is right. What they are really saying is that residential areas are taking advantage of the same farmers they claim to want to “save”. We ought to raise the taxes on residential areas significantly (if you believe their numbers).

    But what if they are wrong? What if Loudoun has the right approach and Fauquier the wrong approach? Then, Fauquiers claim that they are saving their residents money in taxes is a false choice, because they are costing them far more in wealth than they are saving in taxes.

    What if they are BOTH wrong? What if the savings from conservation exactly equals the loss from lack of growth? What if it turns out to be, actually, more expensive?

    Is that enough reason for us to turn our back on conservation?

    I don’t think so.

    I’ve been accused here of being pro-development and anti-conservation. Of being self serving.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. But I also don’t think that conservation is “Free, – No Cost”. I’m not entirely convinced that we live beter with less energy use, because energy does work for us.

    Sure, burning fossil fuels releases heat, and CO2. Suppose we, as humans, had to do all that same work? Don’t we release at least as much heat and CO2? Last I knew, conservation of energy still holds.

    But wait, you say, we don’t have to do all that same work if we don’t drive fifty miles to work.

    Good point. Except that is where the JOBS are. Either we move the jobs or move the homes. If we move the homes, we either waste the old ones, or else someone like EMR buys them, saying “What the heck, it was an existing home already, I didn’t cost anybody anything.”

    Moving the homes isn’t cheap. And then we have to move all the goods and services that it takes to support the homes, we have to haul all the garbage away, because there isn’t room to put it.

    Where do we haul it to? The countryside we were trying to save. Where does the cement come from? From gravel pits in the countryside we were trying to save. Where do we put the power plants? In the countryside where the air is clean. Where do we run the power lines? Through untrammeled countryside. How do we haul allthis stuff? On highways through the countryside. Then we chqrge the countryside raod users 10x because they have the unmitigated gaul to actually use roads that were built to support the cities.

    Etc. Etc.

    OR

    We can move the jobs. We can telecommute. We can have the federal government disperse the money it collects a little more evenly than having the preponderance of it land in NOVA. We can reserve the hilltops for wind power instead of for homes with a view. We can use some of the open space for solar farms instead of hay farms, gee, they might actually make money. We can use the rest to make ethanol.We might even drink some of it.

    Do I know the answers? Not a chance.

    But as long as the place to search for answers is NIMBY, I doubt we will find them.

  68. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Isn’t that exactly the argument that is made concerning road funding? That any new funding cannot happen until we fix the past wrongs? That it is wasted on a broken system?”

    The PROCESS Ray… not refunds.

    You change the PROCESS.. you reform the methods… so that you correct the wrong methods that caused the current problems.

    It’s called REFORM.

    You look FORWARD – not BACK.

  69. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “So why are they deteriorating?”

    Ray – they are deteriorating for the same reason your own body does.. or the pipes in your own house or your barns.

    I’m getting the impression .. no a visual of you sitting in front of your computer with the horseblinders you just got from your barn firmly installed on your head.

    🙂

  70. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    You don’t move jobs or people.

    You let both decide where they want to be. That IS …. Freedom.

    But you let them also pay the full costs of their decisions of where they want to be.

    What we are arguing in essence is that “affordable” housing for most people earning way better than average salaries… is not “shelter” – far from it – a bigger house with more rooms and custom appliances located on a cul-de-sac with a backyard that backs up to trees

    .. and that it is “unfair” and un-American to ask/require those folks pay their fair share of the infrastructure that is required to support them in the lifestyle that they chose.

    We’re saying that by “forcing” them to pay… for roads that they use to commute on that we are taking away their 4th bedroom or their 50″ LCD TV.

    People who make very good – often – two income salaries.. commuting in late model SUVs to homes that can and are often called McMansions… do not need “help” for “affordable” housing.

    They call this the American Dream and that by merely suggesting that the reason why our roads are terribly congested at rush hour are because these well-off folks are not paying their fair share to provision adequate infrastructure…

    is a THREAT to their way of life…

    Please excuse me while I barf….

    ALL of this crappola going on with the “crisis” in Richmond is a simple failure of all parties to recognize simple realities – if you want to drive – there has to be pavement to drive on and that pavement is not free.. and not covered by your current taxes.

    If we did water/sewer like we did roads.. folks would have sewage in their back yards… and a trickle of clean water at “rush hour”.

    the road equivalent of this.. or more to the point.. the solution to the road equivalent of this is considered so repugnant that we cannot bring ourselves to act…

    Put congestion pricing tolls on commuting infrastructure and you kill two big birds with one single stone.

    1. – you let people make choices based on simple economics – as it should be

    2. – you generate sustainable revenues to actually upgrade and optimize the infrastructure.

    We.. as a society .. seem to view the above as the option of last resort.

    Pray tell me what the realistic alternatives are.
    why?

  71. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Of course, so much of the discourse is based on the flawed notion that development does not already pay its own way. In making that assumption, many folks seem to overlook many of the revenue streams created by new development. Yes, housing and development create the revenue streams to support themselves; it is simply a question of how those revenues are quantified and allocated.

    Additionally, if we are going to say that new homeowners have to pay their own way, then we should simply hold existing homeowners to the same standard.

  72. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Additionally, if we are going to say that new homeowners have to pay their own way, then we should simply hold existing homeowners to the same standard.

    This should have read : Additionally, if we are going to say that new homeowners have to pay their own way (as some have defined), then we should we not also simply hold existing homeowners to the same standard?

    Sorry, I hit send too soon. 🙂

  73. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think we’ve land in circular argument territory which usually signals the end of forward progress.

    Claiming that housing pays it’s own way already.. in the face of unrelenting congestion.. that only get’s worse with more homes.. defies logic.

    This is the same argument that developers used with regard to schools until Proffers were forced on them….

    Basically.. they’ve been not only non-repsonsive but obstructive in my view.

    The water and sewer infrastructure/financial model not only is sustainable but it clearly links infrastructure with growth – successfully.

    New and existing homes pay for new hookups.

    That money is put into a revolving fund so that when more infrastructure is needed for expansion – the money is there and available.

    Everyone who is already hooked up pays user fees for operational expenses, repairs and maintenance.

    Schools right now in many areas are proffered such that new homes pay around 1/2 of the actual capital costs of building new schools.

    Existing taxpayers pick up the rest.

    Roads are left out of the equation.

    JLARC advocates separating them into 3 categories.

    * Statewide/Inter Regional/National

    * Intra-Regional, major arterials

    * Local, subdivisions, rural and minor arterials.

    VDOT handles the top level with the State’s share of the Fed gas tax and TOLLs for new major roads

    Regions are handled by MPOs, transportation districts and sales taxes.

    Subdivisions should be handled by HOAs

    Minor arterials and rural EXpansions by proffers and impact fees on by-right

    Maintenance for Regional and Local via their share of the State gas tax.

    There is a lot of different ways to “cut” this into fair and equitable parts.

    I don’t see SQUAT from the development community other than blocking manuevers at the GA.

    Where is the Development Communities plan?

    I don’t think “broad-based” revenue streams is a plan. It’s more of a mantra that applies across the board to past, present and future practices.

    In other words.. it’s blather and pablum … rope-a-dope “spin”.

    I give the development community CREDIT in the Fredericksburg Area.

    They have stepped up to the plate, gone the extra mile to work WITH the community for solutions.

    More of this and less of the blocking manuevers.. would contribute towards .. if not harmony… a harmonizing process.

  74. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    “The water and sewer infrastructure/financial model not only is sustainable but it clearly links infrastructure with growth – successfully.

    New and existing homes pay for new hookups.”

    Notice the bolded text. That is the key: new AND existing homes. Under an impact fee scheme, only new homeowners would pay extra towards infrastructure, not existing homeowners, who likely never paid their “extra” at any point.

    Claiming that housing pays it’s own way already.. in the face of unrelenting congestion.. that only get’s worse with more homes.. defies logic.

    It is all a question of how the revenues from housing and other development are quantified and captured.

    Where is the Development Communities plan?

    I have put forward a darn good solution: CDAs. You get infrastructure up front and home affordability is less drastically affected.

    More of this and less of the blocking manuevers.. would contribute towards .. if not harmony… a harmonizing process.

    Again, we have put forward solutions. You and others may not like them, but I can assure you of one thing: we are not simply going to roll over and play dead just to appease the anti-housing folks.

  75. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    CDAs — I think that in many instances they are a perfect alternative to the cash proffer system. The resistance to their use does not come from our corner. It usually comes from local government.

  76. “Yes, housing and development create the revenue streams to support themselves; it is simply a question of how those revenues are quantified and allocated. “

    Thank you, Tyler.

    The way I put it was simply that all the bills we have are, in fact getting paid, and ultimately they are paid by someone – who lives in a house.

    If housing wasn’t paying its way, then we would be assuming unending debt, and we would need to raise taxes. If housing is currently paying its way, but we don;t have enough “stuff”, then that’s another way of saying we aren;t paying enough taxes.

    But, using the (probably bogus) argument that housing does not pay it’s own way to justify raising taxes and prohibitions only on new construction is simply self-serving and also faulty circular logic.

    Unfortunately, this is a wildly popular idea, and it is going to affect how we do business for years to come. Eventually the backlash will come, and the results will be ugly. Far better to come to some reasonable terms now.

    BTW, the recent rash of brken wter mains in older areas shows how well that model works. The setup is fine, but only if there is really enough money behind it, and right now, there isnt.

  77. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “BTW, the recent rash of brken wter mains in older areas shows how well that model works. The setup is fine, but only if there is really enough money behind it, and right now, there isnt.”

    Ray – you’re confusing things again.

    you also say that:

    “The way I put it was simply that all the bills we have are, in fact getting paid, and ultimately they are paid by someone – who lives in a house.”

    Both you and Tyler seem to presume that we have no problems and that we have a perfectly balanced system of taxes and adequate infrastructure…

    … your view: “bills are in fact getting paid”.

    Your view doesn’t acknowledge the performance problems associated with a lack of adequate infrastructure.

    You view is that we build even if it seriously degrades the Levels of Service and that “somehow” taxes will “fix” it.

    Look around you.

    Do you see the infrastructure “catching up”?

    Do you see happy people.. satisfied with the current status of our infrastructure?

    Tell me… why kind of taxes will be required to “catch up” and then tell me how long it will take to “catch up”.

    VDOT estimates a 100 Billion backlog.

    What kind of a tax rate would be needed to provide … 1/2 of this?

    We’re NOT catching up..we’re falling further behind….

    and we’re doing so under the guise of keeping “affordable” home prices low when, in fact, we have people making fat salaries living in large homes… and commuting 100 miles a day… while paying about $200.00 a year while paying $400 a month for a fancy SUV.

    This is really, really, stupid from a public policy point of view.

    No matter how you feel about Smart Growth or Balanced Communities – to stand by and NOT collect enough money to provide adequate infrastructure for people who will commute….. is just plain irresponsible in my view.

    You point out what happens if water/sewer infrastructure is poorly maintained… and you are correct and in those situations where it is not maintained – those in charge are correctly held in low repute for failing their duties.

    The vast, vast majority of water/sewer authorities are well run and financially responsible.

    You cannot say that about our roads.

    The system for maintaining and improving them is AWOL.

    You want to raise taxes on EVERYONE to fix them.

    If that worked.. I’d disagree but at least things would be fixed.

    But that is not happening.

    And it’s not happening because you’d have to raise taxes so high that people would throw folks out of office.

    Only 22% support higher taxes.

    On the other hand, more than 50% are willing to pay TOLLs and more than 70% are willing to approve road referenda.

    And the vast majority of folks who understand CDA’s support them.

    My view is that those that advocate raising taxes on everyone to pay for infrastructure for those who drive most intensively are wrong and I think most of the public thinks that way also – INCLUDING the people who drive intensively who WANT to pay to get less congested roads.

    Those who worry and fret about housing and land “restrictions” least of all, one wold think, would want to continue the status quo where even more restrictions will result as long as the infrastructure issues are ignored.

    Doing so doesn’t even make sense for whose interests are only for their own financial well-being.

    After all the words are said -WHERE is the plan for moving forward?

  78. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Geeze.. WHERE is the money … in virtually every jurisdiction in Va for roads?

    Is every last one of them… squandering their property taxes on frivolous things?

    Here’s the deal on CDA’s – and I think you know it.

    The CDA puts a tax on the retail and commercial who incorporate that tax into the price of their goods and services – paid for by the taxpayers who live and shop in that area plus any they can attract outside that jurisdiction.

    There is no equivalent for residential CDA’s unless what you are advocating is essentially a proffer-type arrangement for new homes that the homeowner incorporates into his monthly mortgage.

    This would be, in my mind, little different than impact fees except that impact fees apply to by-right whereas proffers and CDAs are for rezones.

    You know EVERYONE pays for maintenance … everyone for roads and the same for water/sewer in terms of people who are hooked up.

    In the case of NEW infrastructure – you would not need it if there was no growth.

    In fact, citizens are ahead of you on this.

    Their answer in Spotsylvania and Stafford is NO GROWTH because they KNOW that needed new infrastructure will not be built unless their own property taxes pay for it.

    It’s not a bargain they are going to agree to.

    They WILL agree to pay 1/2 … or so.. as they now do with schools.

    Citizens already agree to raise their own taxes with Referenda to improve/upgrade roads caused by growth – including their own.

    So folks do this.. now…
    and it is not enough… if you don’t start capturing funds upfront from new buyers also.

  79. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    When I say it is not enough.

    Each county has a credit rating just like you and I.

    They can go out and bond new roads from Referenda but their ability is not unlimited.

    It is, in fact, limited by their revenues and their other existing debt (just like you and I).

    In faster growing counties – their debt is already substantial from schools… and what they have left is what they have for roads unless they want steep tax increases.

    In Spotsylvania’s case – merely attempting to build JUST the VDOT deferred projects in the six year plan would have caused the tax rate to go up 36 cents and THIS assumed that the money could be borrowed and spent before inflation would increase the price of the projects.

    Your claim that existing taxpayers should pay for these roads doesn’t “work”.

    If the BOS raised taxes by 36 cents, they’d be voted out – and the next BOS would “undo” the tax rate increase.

    What legislation do you currently support to move this issue forward?

    (I think I know what you oppose – so I’m asking what have you got on the table to help move this forward?).

  80. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Residential CDAs would be paid through a supplemental rate on the property taxes of the folks in the CDA. That is better than the proffer in that it is not part of the purchase price, and as such, is not multiplied by the interest that it would carry over the life of the mortgage. Also, as a property tax, I think (and I am not a tax attorney — so take this with a grain of salt) that it would be a tax deduction just as your regular property taxes are. Also, residential (or any) CDAs can be funded by special assessments (sort of like some municipalities in other places do for things like retro upfits of curb and gutter). Again, it avoids making it part of the purchase price and by extension part of the mortgage.

    I would suggest that you re-read what I have already written on capturing revenue. My point was that growth generates a chunk of revenue already; the trick is capturing that revenue. Look at my example from the 360 corridor in Chesterfield County. That wonderful commercial establishment is there because of residential growth. Does it not make sense that the revenues generated by that project should first be used to pay for growth-related infrastructure? And, what about all of the sales tax revenue that is generated by the construction of new homes? Localities get a piece of that. I do think that the current state tax structure does make it tougher to capture those revenues, and a part of the solution needs to be an examination of that structure, especially if the state is going to push more transportation responsibility to the localities.

    Sorry for the delete and re-post, Jim, but I did want to correct a couple of glaring typos. Also, I did want to add a note that that I did not want it appear that I was picking on Chesterfield County because I certainly did not intend to come off that way. They are actually trying to do some creative things to address infrastructure. The above example could apply in any similar area.

  81. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think that you are thinking that the tax revenues that commercial generates is revenue that the locality would not have without the commercial.. and that the commercial would not be there if it were not for the residential growth.

    My view is that ALL of the revenue from new growth.. from the proffers, to the property tax, to the sales tax on the home and the sales taxes captured by commercial still do not provide enough to pay for the shortfall in roads.

    If it did – the most healthy of the commercial centers would be surrounded surrounded by residential and all of it with plenty of road capacity.

    The CDAs do mitigate the commercial but there is not enough even if the law allowed to deal with the rest of the roads without the commercial itself being adversely impacted by having to pass on so much add-on that it would affect their competitiveness.

    CDAs require 51% landowner approval so it basically only works if a developer assembles properties then obtains a rezone with the CDA proffered for infrastructure.

    I don’t see CDAs for residential. There must be a reason why not.

    Are their existing examples in Va?

    CDAs thought won’t work for by-right and especially by-right that is well/septic.

    If by-right ends up being cheaper than CDA residential… what then?

  82. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    I believe that New Kent County uses a CDA for water and sewer. From what I understand other states like Florida make copius use of residential CDAs for roads.

    I think that you are thinking that the tax revenues that commercial generates is revenue that the locality would not have without the commercial.. and that the commercial would not be there if it were not for the residential growth.

    Yep. You have to have a-roofs before you get flat roofs.

    My view is that ALL of the revenue from new growth.. from the proffers, to the property tax, to the sales tax on the home and the sales taxes captured by commercial still do not provide enough to pay for the shortfall in roads.

    If it did – the most healthy of the commercial centers would be surrounded surrounded by residential and all of it with plenty of road capacity.

    I guess we just disagree. I think the money is there, especially when you count the sales tax from commercial. The question is the extent to which that money gets spent in other areas before it is used for insfrastructure in th growth area and the extent to which the existing state tax structure prevents the locality from having access to a larger portion of those revenues in the first place.

  83. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I would actually AGREE with you if you could show me an example where such growth actually resulted in a markedly better road network compared to other counties that perhaps did not use that money as wisely.

    Look at the numbers. It costs about 10K per kid per year.

    The average home generates about 1/2 of that.

    That commercial sales tax is what saves the bacon for most counties on this shortfall.

    It’s very hard to believe that there’s not a single jursidiction in Va that has had such a success.

    My county spends about 70% of it’s revenues for schools. After their own administrative costs – that leaves not a whole lot for roads.

    As I said earlier citizens approved a referenda… but the county does not have a deep enough credit ability to build much more than about 100 million worth of new infrastructure stretched over 30 years without raising the tax rate more than 30cents.

    It would be like you or me going for a mortgage that we can’t make the payments on.

    I don’t think the money is there for most localities.

    Are you thinking the State has extra money that should be given to localities or are you talking about enabling legislation to allow counties to collect more/different reveneues?

  84. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Tyler – show me the money.

    Show me the jurisdiction in Virginia that has good growth AND good local roads as a result of that good growth.

    One example would suffice.

    Perhaps Henrico is that place.

  85. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Larry — my point was that growth creates the revenues to pay for growth, but that the real question was one of allocation of resources. In other words, the revenues created by growth are not all captured and used to pay for growth, something that you may acknowledged in roundabout way. Having said that, Henrico County does have a pretty good handle on roads; they are a pretty good example. Like everyone else, they have a few choke points, but that is to be expected anywhere, and they are working on those. They are certainly in a pretty strong fiscal position.

  86. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Tyler.. hmmm.. we’re back to square one here.

    You’re basically asserting that growth pays for itself if one counts all the revenues that are generated by growth.

    and I’m saying that I doubt it

    .. and neither of us is providing data to back up the assertions though I have alluded to the high cost of schools in fast growing counties and the fact that median priced homes come nowhere near to paying the full costs of education a kid from that household even with the added sales tax from that households purchases of goods and services.

    If your argument is that we are paying more for schools than we should be and THAT is where we have wrongly allocated money that should have been used for roads…

    .. is that what you are saying?

    I do agree .. it would be worth looking at Henrico .. who I believe do maintain their own roads and DO also get their share of the gas tax.

    It might boil down to whether Henrico uses VDOT or low-bid contractors for their roads.

    Spotsylvania’s experience with VDOT charges is that their overhead is very high.. much higher than contractors.

    But note this.

    If Spotsylvania wanted to LIMIT their exposure on the growth issue – the easiest path is to NOT approve rezones and just accept by-right growth.

    Is that an acceptable outcome for those in your business?

  87. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Larry,

    I am resigned to the fact that we will just have to agree to disagree. That said, I would refer you to the following two links:

    http://www.author-works.com/media/media-21330.pdf

    http://www.author-works.com/media/media-21331.pdf.

    Both are generated by the National Association of Home Builders and show on the basis of building 100 new homes in the average metro area, the income, taxes and jobs generated in the metro area by new home building as well as cost vs revenue comparison on a metro level basis for local governments. Their conclusion is that housing pays for itself in about a year and a half on average and is a profit center from there on.

  88. Tyler Craddock Avatar
    Tyler Craddock

    Jim,
    Interesting points. I will delve a little further into the methodology side and provide a more in-depth response than this one. Sorry for being so short, but I am pressed for time this afternoon, and I did not want to leave you hanging.

    T-

  89. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Tyler – thanks for the links.

    They’re lacking in specifics to actually back up what they are asserting.

    But now I do understand where this is a lack of agreement.

    I just don’t see a model community where what you and the paper advocate is actually demonstrated and out of hundred, thousands of communities – there must be one or two that correctly allocate the revenues from growth rather than mis-allocate them.

    For those who are truly interested in moving the issue forward – as opposed to lobbying for a position based on self-interests – BOTH sides need to focus on the facts – the actual financial data for several example communities that experience high growth rates and degraded levels of services especially with regard to roads.

    If the problem is truly a mis-allocation of existing taxes – citizens would have something to focus on – rather than tossing out those that are pro-growth supporters.

    On the other hand, if the data demonstrates that there is an actually shortfall of finances with regard to new construction – then that would help everyone – both sides to understand whether Impact Fees or Proffers or CDA or other mechanisms are appropriate AND what kind of money would be needed to balance the equation.

    The development community can have their way in the General Assembly – as they have done for years but they have the opportunity – to provide a path to better solutions – if they so choose.

    Otherwise – they will continue to react to what they view are “threats” to their businesses which actually will actually accelerate as more and more citizens oppose development.

    I’ve talked with local developers in Fredericksburg and one of their main concerns … is the unpredictability and long delays associated with their proposals.

    They have to invest money…risk employee jobs, indeed put their own company at risk… in pursuit of projects that citizens will show up in droves to oppose and likely cause it to be rejected by the BOS.

    This view actually resulted in major policy shifts at the BOS level at the last election – and will likely continue this election and result in an “business unfriendly” development environment.

    I would think – that the goal of lobbying efforts would be to IMPROVE the business environment, to PROMOTE better developement conditions for the development community… more successful businesses .. more jobs and communities that VALUE the benefits that development can bring.

    Good Luck! I do hope you have success.

  90. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Speaking on uneducated, looking down on those that don’t share one’s views:

    “The average “citizen activist’ doesn’t understand anything about sustainable land use or settlement patterns. However, repetition is persuasive and the general public will usually believe whatever they hear the most.”

    This is ignorance revealed.

    In Virignia Beach the average “citizen activists” is well educated regarding sustainable land use or settlement patterns.

    In addition, we are also well educated regarding our tax funds, who pays them, who does not pay them, and how our money is being spent by government.

    Further, we are also well educated regarding the adverse impact of higher taxes upon our citizens.

    I encourage the author of the quote above (in italics) to attend our monthly Virginia Beach Taxpayer Alliance meetings.

    I believe, based on your comment, you would become more educated about the “average civic activist” in our city.

    Virginia Beach is the largest (most populated – 437,000 residents) city in the Commonwealth.

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