Andy High, director of government affairs for the Central Oregon Builders Association, wrote a piece published in the "other" newspaper on Jan. 13. Andy claims that COBA continually gave warnings to the city council going back to perhaps 2005. In mid-2006 COBA claimed awareness that new home starts were declining and "warned jurisdictions" to reflect that in future budgets. Their warnings failed to get the city's attention. I think I am correct in saying that when you're in the middle of an unprecedented boom, you don't want any negatives coming your way! I'll accept what COBA says about its many warnings because I can't prove otherwise.
COBA suggests that the slowdown in new home construction was because of the "market," for one reason, and the increased cost of doing business with the city, for the other. Okay, I agree with the "market," but the other can be challenged. The increased cost of doing business with the city came about by "growth out of control"! The city was in a crisis mode of two steps forward and one back. COBA failed to warn the city of the severe consequences of that. But why would they?
I, and others, did warn the city about "growth out of control," but to no avail. The * Growth Machine (i.e., city council, city planners, lending institutions, developers, COBA, Chamber of Commerce, realtors, architects, engineers, private planners and Bend's "other" newspaper) combined to put the kibosh on slowing down growth. Why stop when the money is rolling in?
"Growth out of control" is responsible for the current financial crisis extant in Bend today. The city is "broke" due to mismanagement of funds during the "boom." SDCs were misused, and consequently the city's infrastructure has suffered. Two examples: Reed Market Road from the Parkway east to 27th Street was not improved as growth and development took place, and now the estimate to improve it is over $70 million! The sewage treatment facility is in dire straits, with repairs to the tune of $7.7 million! It's difficult to "budget" when you lack funds!
As long as we're patting ourselves on the back, my letter of Feb.2, 2004 about the building "boom" said: "Keep in mind that historically, all booms bust". A lucky guess? No, it was based on a 56-year career in the field, having seen a bust many times. But, of course, it fell onto the deaf ears of the Growth Machine. Unfortunately, they got their just deserts. Slump city.
Bob Bates, Bend