Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More corporate welfare

With everyone seeking money from the government that they claim they don't want the government to give them because of the massive deficit, add Bend builders/developers to the corporate piggy trough.

Basically, the Central Oregon Builders Association claims that high building fees are preventing a rebound from the Great Recession. Why, even mighty Scappoose, northwest of Portland, has slashed fees and system development charges (SDCs) to attract business. Some here threaten to even defect to Scappoose because that's where freedom from government reigns.

You see there is this wide band of red tape encircling the city of Bend that is stopping the Great Rebound from happening. There are permits, fees and and SDCs. And then there are codes, standards and inspections. No wonder we can't grow, builders claim.

It doesn't matter that the city has extended building permits almost indefinitely or deferred SDCs. And yes, the city is applying for an enterprise zone, a tax-free haven for would-be companies.

And yet, nothing's working. We need more subsidies, the builders claim.

Well, the builders' association knows that there was too much building in Bend during the Great Boom. Instead of being around 10 percent of the local economy, the building industry was more than 30 percent. The city did nothing to modulate this, which contributed to our Great Bust.

The builders now claim if there were lower or no fees, Bend would boom again.

Of course, only fools believe that.

Building empty homes and vacant commercial structures is not a "sound" economic base. If there are no companies willing to move here and hire more workers, there is no need for much building at all, commercial or residential.

Our last growth boom was a byproduct of easy credit and wild speculation. It's why our collapse is worse than most places.

There has to be a "need" for more housing and commercial development. Without such a "need," no amount of government subsidies to the building industry will create the Next Boom.

In fact, corporate handouts have no effect at all. Scappoose, for all it subsidies, isn't growing and neither is Bend, for all its so-called government-imposed expenses.

The building industry claims the government gets in the way of growth and yet turns to government when growth stagnates. Builders wants it both ways as long as it goes their way.

The builders' association would be better off coming up with solutions to the massive infrastructure problems it produced for this city rather than bellying up to the piggy trough.

We have enormous problems with our sewer, road and storm drainage systems that the Great Boom left us. Until those problems are addressed and fixed, Bend won't be an attractive place to new companies or new residents.

The local building industry is not a solution to our Great Bust, but rather a catalyst for the Next Bust.

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