Tuesday, February 14, 2012

While pols meet, it's initiative-signing season

The speculator helped fuel
 our housing crisis
The Oregon Legislature is not likely to fundamentally alter the way things are done here during its mini-session, but two proposed initiatives this year could have a lasting impact.

One initiative is a grass-roots effort to get rid of studded-tire use in the state. The other is a well-funded effort by Realtors and builders to prohibit the state from ever imposing a real estate transfer tax when a house is sold.

Granted, there is no such statewide transfer tax in Oregon, but the mere mention of it in previous legislative sessions had the Realtors reaching for the Tums.

Other states have transfer taxes and those states still have home sales. It is not the end of the world, far from it.

A real estate transfer tax is needed in Oregon, particularly in Bend, because: 1) schools and other vital services desperately need money and 2) it helps modulate the housing industry.

Building homes for the sake of building homes, when there is no real demand, does not make for a sound economy.

We saw what happened in Bend. Speculators were buying and selling homes to each other in a game of hot potato until the last sucker got stuck with a rotting potato.

These "flippers" left us with an inventory of unsold homes and lots that should last for five years.

If a transfer tax of 2 percent was ever collected, it would be great to see speculators help pay for the blight they cause.

The anti-transfer tax initiative will likely make it on the November ballot, but I urge everyone to vote "no" on such a terrible, anti-Oregon piece of garbage.

A ban on the use of studded tires in Oregon is long overdue. ODOT estimates that studded tires cause about $40 million in damage to our roads each year.

That number is not likely to rise because more and more drivers are opting for studless snow tires. They're more effective in more driving conditions than studded tires.

Costco, one of the top tire dealers in the state, stopped selling studded tires years ago.

As mentioned in a previous post on this subject, the main reason to support the ban is that it will shift the focus to the real culprit: long-haul trucks.

Oregon allows triple trailers and the weight of these rigs destroys our roads. The damage they cause dwarfs anything ever done by studded tires.

To back the ban, check out this website: Preserving Oregon Roads.

I have copies of the signature sheet if anyone wants to sign it.

Safe driving.

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