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Destination Resorts: The Same Ol' Spin 

The Bulletin took off this morning on one of its editorial rampages, attacking Gov. Ted Kulongoski for backing legislation that would make it tougher to

The Bulletin took off this morning on one of its editorial rampages, attacking Gov. Ted Kulongoski for backing legislation that would make it tougher to site destination resorts in Central Oregon and touting the supposed benefits of such developments. The result was a hash of sophistry and contorted logic.

First we had an attempt to rebut the argument that destination resorts promote sprawl:

"Even the most developed resorts in the area, Sunriver and Black Butte Ranch, have a relatively small number of full-time residents compared to the total number of hotel rooms and houses within them. Weekend occupancy does not make urban sprawl, no matter how you slice it."

The flaw in this argument, of course, is that Sunriver and Black Butte Ranch - which were developed before the state destination resort law was enacted, by the way - are real resorts where people go for vacations and weekends, while the ones being built and planned today are nothing more than gated golf communities labeled "destination resorts" to get around state land use laws.

These modern "resorts" do everything they can to avoid being vacation destinations - except, that is, for the people who own vacation homes in them. If you don't believe it, go to the Tetherow and Pronghorn websites and try to find information on how to book a hotel room or a condo.

Then The Bulletin tries to answer the charge that destination resorts waste water: "As for water, it's true that golf courses need to be irrigated. But so, too, does property used for agriculture."

True enough. But how many Central Oregon destination resorts have been or are being built on land that was under irrigation to grow crops? They're stuck out in the sagebrush and scrub juniper.

And then comes a defense of the "resorts" on economic grounds: "In fact, a good case can be made that Sunriver and Black Butte helped the county make the transition from a timber-dependent economy to one that is much more broadly based. As one example, Schlosser Casting Co. of Redmond moved to the region after its original owners began spending vacations at Sunriver."

Again, Sunriver and Black Butte Ranch have little or no relationship - beyond the label - to the "destination resorts" of today. And we're always hearing about how executives located their companies here because they came for a vacation and loved the place, but the evidence seems to be only anecdotal - and rather sparse. Is Schlosser Casting (acquired by Precision Castparts in 1997) the only example The Bulletin could come up with in the 40-odd years since Sunriver was created?

Finally, there's a parting shot at Kulongoski and more praise for the wondrous economic benefits of "resorts":

"Kulongoski seems to have written off Central Oregon, at least so far as healthy economies are concerned. ... Some destination resorts may be bad, but in these parts the good ones have enriched governments, provided jobs and attracted the kinds of folks and businesses that the region desperately needs."

Final question: If destination resorts are such a mighty engine of jobs and prosperity, how come Deschutes County - which has more of them than any other county in Oregon - has an unemployment rate of 12.6%?

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