TCAR Supports Responsible Growth
The Tuolumne County Association of Realtors (TCAR) supports the approval and adoption of responsible development that will enhance the economic vitality and improve the quality of life we all enjoy in Tuolumne County. The California Association of Realtors (CAR) notes that Community design — the size, design, and positions of buildings; the arrangements of streets, walkways, and parking; and the placement of parks and other open spaces — creates the character that we experience in a place. Community design has implications greater than the aesthetic: the design of a place can influence pedestrian activity, shopping behavior, public safety, the viability of public transportation, and the value of real estate. Community design is a vital part of the smart growth picture, and one of its most challenging aspects is the issue of density. Building at higher densities in the appropriate locations is vital to the realization of many smart growth goals, including the provision of greater choice and affordability in housing.
A significant impediment to implementing good community design is the Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) movement. CAR notes that the NIMBY movement is the spontaneous community or neighborhood opposition to development in general or to planning policies that support development and/or increased density. Residents of a community hit by any planning or development proposals start a local NIMBY movement because they are under the impression that there are enough housing and people inhabiting their neighborhood. They oppose projects or planning proposals based on the perception that their neighborhood can not possibly accommodate development or support more density, and if it did, it would be permanently ruined. NIMBYs would like to keep things the way they are. They do not want or support change. NIMBY attitudes often delay or stop development in areas where it is most needed. The most common concerns —fears— that NIMBYs have are: decline in property values, increased traffic, increased crime, destruction of green areas, overcrowding and their general quality of life. While some of the concerns might be legitimate, others may be unfounded. Nevertheless, all objections to development and all fears need to be addressed by the local housing authority, developers and housing advocates.
Our County General Plan is the guiding land planning document that has been developed over time with a great deal of community input. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires issues be analyzed and addressed or mitigated. Planned development that meets the criteria established by the General Plan and CEQA should be allowed. If we do not allow viable infill and mixed use projects then by default we encourage scattered disjointed development. The Californian Association of Realtors notes that well planned development has the following benefits:
- Development is necessary to accommodate the needs of a growing population: homes, jobs, schools, health facilities, shopping, transportation, etc.
- Development increases the type of jobs available for the community.
- Development makes a wider range of services and goods available to the population.
- Development brings more skilled and higher paying jobs to the population.
- Increased incomes and commerce, in turn, translate into a healthier fiscal environment because more taxes are paid.
- As a result of development, specialized amenities and infrastructure can be brought to the population since the sufficient number of people to support them is reached. For instance, universities, subways, sports arenas or certain type of museums, are only possible when there are enough people to justify the economic investment and their usage.
- Development allows residents –and their future generations– to remain in their area, strengthens personal ties and enhances civic participation.
- Development provides housing and sustenance to the population.
- Job creation produced by housing construction means a healthier fiscal environment for the government since more federal, state and local tax revenues and fees are collected.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes that there’s no stopping growth. By 2020, this country will need to house 53.7 million more Americans than in the year 2000.
How will we live? Differently. The average household will be smaller. More people will remain active into their 80s; they will want shopping, entertainment, and medical services within walking distance. Empty nesters may gravitate toward revitalized city neighborhoods.
The healthier a community, the better the environment for all residents. Keeping a community attractive, livable, and functioning well is a complex task for our community residents, developers and government officials.
Adam Wilson, 2017 President
Tuolumne County Association of REALTORS®