The Albuquerque City Council deferred action on the idea of reducing impact fees last night. Several of the Councilors seem to think that if we build more we can save the economy. And that eliminating or reducing impact fees will help us build more.
Neighborhoods are half-built because of a national recession with roots in practices of the lending and real estate development industries. News like this of a stalled Longford Homes subdivision on the SW mesa won't be resolved by encouraging more just like it. Builder bailouts won't solve overbuilding. Even if making a $10k fee go away would encourage building.
But Eye on Albuquerque says taxes are bad and the fees are a tax and everybody knows all growth is dandy. The post is full of tired unsupported assertions. Like how growth pays for itself. Which always ignores little pesky realities like operation and maintenance, rehabilitation and regional infrastructure. But I was only skimming until I got to the swipe at the Planned Growth Strategy. The Eye says PGS was about promoting eastside infill and says the fees are an attempt at social engineering.
PGS was about a resolution, R-70, that called for orderly provision of public services. It was a study based on the very free-markety-market idea that utility system capacity and costs vary so maybe so should price.
Duh. That project should have been dull as a doornail. Instead it was fought tooth and nail at the highest level by this town's real estate insiders who are still fighting the fees. The reason? Effective implementation promotes development of land they don't own. (SunCal much?)
This latter point is important because of the other old argument that Eyeballs uses against the fees - that they push developers into other places. No they don't. Land doesn't move.
The idea of responsible public financial management promoted by PGS and impact fees, (labeled and derided as growth management), so threatened these interests, that they yanked control of the utility away from the city completely - forming our Water Authority. And, not coincidentally, an entirely new bonding and fee structure unhindered by land use policy or anything remotely like growth management.
In support of the bills to reduce or eliminate impact fees, Councilor Trudy Jones said, without a hint of irony, that we need to look at the big picture. Been there and done that.