Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Growth gets another dose of reality

For those who believe that more new houses means more prosperity, it wasn't a particularly good week.

The state sent back Bend's "urban growth boundary" plan (UGB) because the city can't demonstrate how it will accommodate all the new land in terms of infrastructure.

Just over half the city isn't connected to the sewer system and the road grid system is seriously flawed. The city has ideas on how to address those issues, but it has no realistic timeline or funding source to accomplish anything on infrastructure. The city doesn't apply for all the available federal grants that it can because it doesn't really care.

Also, last week the builders' union claimed that the local housing market was recovering. This week they're whining that proposed increases in building and planning fees are premature. The city will likely cave to this special interest group and when their aren't enough planners to okay their developments or inspectors to sign off on, say, plumbing, builders will whine that they're aren't enough people working at the city's planning department. Classic case of having and eating their cake. Can't have it both ways, boys.

The housing market likely won't rebound until next year, according to some bearish analysts. With that in mind, the empty subdivisions throughout Bend, not to mention the defaults all over town, means there isn't any need to expand the UGB for at least another five years.

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