Monday March 30, 2015
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As you already know by now, a new Arizona state law makes it virtually impossible for cities and counties to place impact fees on new construction. For one thing, the cost of accounting for those fees could outweigh the return. In addition, the reasons for impact fees are severely restricted, scrapping some of the former reasons.
It's obvious that the money formerly spent out of impact fees is still going to have to be spent, and that someone in Payson is going to have to come up with that money, making this subject is too complex for a single question, so....
The Questions Are....
What is the real purpose of the law?
The home buyer, or business owner.
From my perspective, (and remember we talked about perspective) the developers profit. They are now able to sell their product at a much lower price for the same profit or even more. Without impact fees, infrastructure is not taken care of as it should be. Development should pay for itself.
When will Arizona leaders learn about the destructive consequences of growth for the sake of growth.
Talking about new legislation, does anyone know anything about the possibility of updating ARS small taxing districts? This is an issue that the Goldwater Institute brought up some time ago. Does anyone know if anything is happening?
Bernice, don't have an answer to your question about taxing.
As for impact fees, I agree with both you and Pat. The changes were made to wrongly benefit business interests. The requirements to do so much new record keeping is nothing less than harassment of small towns and counties by a business driven legislature. The purpose is obvious.
Impact fees are a fair and equitable method of placing the cost of supplying new homes with those things which the people already in an area have paid for for existing homes. It is unfair and improper to raise the taxes on existing homes to bring water — for example — to new homes. The builders and developers know that, but they don't care. They just want to come in, build, and run off with their profits. Most of the large developers take their money and go back home to California; they could not care less what happens to us.
And to answer the comments of anyone who says that impact fees are anti-growth, the correct answer to that is that growth must pay for itself. Think of what Payson's future would be right now if it were not for Blue Ridge. And ask yourself if Blue Ridge could have happened with the years of impact fees needed to make it happen?
This is an extremely one-sided piece of developer-enriching legislation. It is grab-the-money-and-run legislation which should be immediately addressed by the Arizona league of towns and cities by starting a initiative drive in self defense. Otherwise, what will happen is growth in areas that cannot sustain that growth.
When you think about Arizona, never forget one thing: The limit to growth here is set by nature; there is only so much water. What is frightening obvious is that we have already reached the absolute limits of growth in most areas. Every new home in an area without a guaranteed water supply to cover the new residents is one more step toward an inevitable disaster.
Look around you! Look at the small unincorporated towns around the Rim. Do you see how many of them are at the end of their ropes because of water problems? You'd have to be blind not to see what is happening. Those places are ALREADY over developed because they lacked a town council to place impact fees on new construction.
Tell me this: Where is the solution for those small housing areas? Where do they get new water for all those new homes? Do you see a solution? Really? Good! Tell me what it is.
Had some experience with this issue in my former state of residence. The rapid and pretty much uncontrolled growth was really challenging city and town budgets to provide services and infrastructure for all the new subdivisions on their ever expanding City Limits. One thing I came to appreciate about developers is that each morning they wake up, they have to find some new land to develop or else they are out of business. Never mind that the real estate market already had a glut of available residences, build, build, build. What the city I worked for did, through impact fees, was require developers to set aside land for parks, green belts, horse trails and bikeways, plus they built and equipped the new fire stations required to protect those new developments. And in some instances, police substations to serve the ever expanding area. That was all well and good, but anyone who has ever been in municipal government knows that it is not the one time costs of facilities and equipment, but the ongoing manpower costs that linger long after the developer has put all the money in their pockets and moved on to the next project, that keep straining their budgets. Developers simply passed on those "infrastructure costs" to the new homebuyer and still made their profit margins with ease. Admittedly, all those new developments broadened the cities tax base and revenue, but for some odd reason, those new property taxes never quite seemed to cover the budget shortfalls that came with the added service requirement. A lot of that was/is driven by powerful Public Safety unions who are continually demanding higher wages and benefits for those they represent. It's seems to be a vicious cycle with little light at the end of the tunnel. In all honesty, I never in my personal experience, saw a developer walk away from a project due to impact fees. On the contrary, we had developers bring in busloads of folks from other locals where they were wanting to build, to show them how good they were in covering "infrastructure costs" in our city. Bottom, line is the rich and powerful will almost always come out on top at the expense of the little guy. That's the reason they are rich and powerful in the first place. One thing they cannot provide out of thin air, is the very limiting thing Tom, mentioned, water. This region is called the "Desert" Southwest for good reason. Governments and developers will ignore that reality at our and their peril.
Put the blame where it belongs. Town Govt.
When my son built his house the impact fees were around $10,000 and that was over 10 yrs. ago. When the subdivision was put in the water impact fee was supposed to be paid in full at the first sale of a lot. Around $500. He was the fourth buyer and the fees were around $5000. as the town didn't enforce the original ordinance or deed restrictions. Then over $700. for the water meter when he got ready to turn it on. The town makes an ordinance, never enforces them and then changes them when a friend needs something different. I had a longer post about all the crap we went thru with the town building it, as my other son was the contractor. Not a developer. I hit a wrong button again and erased it all so will quit for now.
All the park impact fees must be going to the Event Center or else the town is taking money from some where else.
As everyone knows, I read a lot of history, and it never failed to amaze me for a while how people allowed themselves to be led straight into a catastrophe. Then I did a little checking, and found out almost the same things you just talked about. It was the rich and powerful who were pushing the buttons. They made money out of what was going on. The ordinary person stood to gain nothing, and often was worse off after the smoke cleared. But over and over again the cycle continued.
It's not hard to see what drives it here in Arizona: Population growth mens more tax money, but there's a point at which that is no longer true, and one look at what's happening RIGHT NOW is proof of that. It costs more to bring someone in than we get back from him or her in taxes. And we are out of water futures. There is no more water, period!
What AZLEG has done is to forestall the inevitable move to either make the future pay for the future, or quit growing. They have enabled the growth, but have cut the ability of towns and counties to provide the needed services for that growth.
For the moment, Payson is safe, but only because of the forethought that occurred in the past. With no way to handle growth beyond the predictable limits of growth, the only way the act is to slam the door shut when the time comes.
Well, it would have had to be done anyway; this just makes "when the time comes" a little sooner.
Pat, I hate it when I hit the wrong button, but it happens, doesn't it? The only thing we can do is live with it.
I'm sure you know this, but any program worthy of the name responds to an immediate Command - z, where you hold down the Command key and press the Z key. If you haven;t tried it, give it a shot. Open a file, enter some text, and hit the delete key, which will delete what you typed. Then press Command-z to bring it all back. I'm sure that will work, and it works at a lot of other times too.
If you haven't read the article in today's Roundup about the differing views regarding Payson adopting a "Firewise" code, you should. After reading that article, it is obvious to me that the Payson City Council is favoring development ie. "developers" over the safety of the current residents of Payson. If I read their objections as reported, correctly, they are more concerned how developers will react to the adoption of the IWUIC (International Wildland Urban Interface Code) than they were supportive of the recommendations of those charged with preventing and ultimately fighting the potentially catastrophic fires that will occur. I used to tell folks that lived in the "interface", and were resistant to providing us with some help in saving their home in the event of a major wildfire, that they should not expect me to put my fire crews at risk of their lives simply because these folks would not work with us. My firefighters are not "kamikazis" who sacrifice their lives willingly for people who will not lift a finger to help us protect them and their properties. As with any Fire Department, we have limited resources and we have to apply those resources where we have the best chance of a successful outcome. Developers who built these enclaves in the interface will be long gone with their pockets full of money, and could care less what happens to the purchasers of those developments after the sale, when that fire does come.
Like most who choose to live in a rural area, I tend towards smaller, less intrusive government, whether Federal, state, or local. So the adoption of the IWUIC in itself actually places more "government" on those that are affected by those codes. I think the Payson Council is being very short sighted and skewed in their priorities, in their reluctance to the adoption of that code. The PRIMARY role of elected officials is first and foremost the safety and protection of their constituents, however reluctant those constituents may be to being dictated to. It is not the City Council's purpose to favor developers over the safety of those that elected them and who they supposedly are sworn to protect. That is unless they are like many "elected officials", bought and paid for by "special interests", ie. developers.
I know you guys will accuse me of sounding like a broken record. However, one need only look at the situation in Pine/Strawberry to see what happens when no attention is paid to supporting natural resources (water) and infrastructure (means to deliver the water) when approving development. People scream about the substandard water delivery system. Well, who installed those systems and who approved them? Yes, I know all about the argument that accuses the last owner of the system of neglect. However, that owner wasn't the only neglectful owner. Weren't there were many before that owner?
Anyway, from my perspective, ( :-))) due to an outlook of growth for the sake of growth, the present citizens of Pine/Strawberry have a monumental task in figuring out how to deal with the problems created by past decisions.
I keep praying, and hoping that those entrusted with approving developments approve them responsibly.
Wait until Blue Ridge goes dry again. All Payson can think of is today, not the future as far as water is concerned. I have seen Roosevelt Lake with water only right by the dam. The rest was bone dry. I have also seen it where the water was about to go over the dam. 1993.
Why should the people that have lived here 40 yrs. or more give up their water for new developments?
Bring in developers of industry not housing.
On to something else. Wait until Carl's fast food opens. That is a BIG disaster waiting to happen with the traffic the way it is on that intersection. You wouldn't believe the problem we had getting into Ariz. Credit Union Bank yesterday. Had to turn North on 87 off Longhorn then move over to turn in to Bashas' shopping center missing the cars that were turning right on the red light, go around the bank and on to 260 with a right turn and try to get into the traffic lane then turn into the bank.
With cars coming out of the drive thru window at Carl's it will be total disaster.
Looks like progress at any price, eh? The city of Payson really needed another fast food joint! NOT!! But hey, the City Council will be more than happy to accept the small increase to the city's tax coffers that Carl's will bring. Anything was better to them than the vacant building that had occupied that site for so long and not contributing much to those coffers. Bottom line. It's ALL about money.
I'm sure there is a hefty real estate tax being paid on the property and Payson was getting a share of that. Wait until someone is injured or killed on that intersection and see what happens.
Man! Have you got me confused! And this is NOT a criticism; it's just plain confusion.
In a past post where I talked about the lines of trees from the forest to our houses being the equivalent of a fuse so that when the forest burns the flames tune straight along those fuses to our homes. But your comment was that people came here to enjoy the area and that means they have to take their chances and cannot expect the area to change.
And even here you say, "Like most who choose to live in a rural area, I tend towards smaller, less intrusive government, whether Federal, state, or local."
In the very next sentence you say, "So the adoption of the IWUIC in itself actually places more "government" on those that are affected by those codes." I agree with that.
But then you confuse me when you say, "I think the Payson Council is being very short sighted and skewed in their priorities, in their reluctance to the adoption of that code."
But if we want smaller government, that would mean fewer codes, would it not?
And since the code calls for the cutting down of trees and the complete clearing of trees and brush around houses, that means that its adoption would call for something I thought you were against.
Now I now that the confusion has got to be explainable because you are always quite consistent, so I'll just leave it at that.
Anyone who wants to see how I feel about that code can read the separate string I wrote about it last night before I read anything anyone said on this string. (696)
As to restaurants, though, I will make a comment. If Payson wanted a new restaurant of some kind the Town Council should have encouraged Long Long Silver's to come here. Why not bring in something we haven't got? Why not something people would flock to instead of more of the same?
I appreciate that my views may seem a bit inconsistent. I'll try to explain my points regarding the IWUIC. First, even I accept that in order for us to live in some semblance of harmony, there have to be some guidelines regarding conduct and behavior (laws/codes). Otherwise chaos would rule. I often, as I said in another post, refer to those things in the general term of "Laws of Social Order". Can we agree as to the need for those? I don't believe I ever advocated for NO laws or government application of laws. If I did please point it out and I will humbly stand corrected.
Now to the specifics of the IWUIC. Every code, whether fire, building, electrical, whatever that is an accepted national standard is always subject to modification/amendment by the adopting agency so that said code, if adopted, can adequately reflect the specific needs of those agencies. They are basically guidelines until given the force of law through their formal adoption. The Payson City Council can make those changes which they feel better fit in with their communities needs and "Master Plan". These are simply procedural changes that are perfectly acceptable. Unlike, let's say a UN Treaty that the US signs on to become a party to,
where signatories cannot change it once it has been adopted. You are bound by every jot and tittle. My, it should be obvious, objection to what I read as a response from the council members, was that they were placing the possible objections of potential developers and how they may or may not act regarding any adoption of a Fire Wise plan. That sends the message to me that the City Council is abrogating their primary civic responsibility of insuring the safety and security of the very citizens that elected them to office, in favor of outside interests. The IWUIC is the one the Fire Chief's recommended based upon it's adoption by cities similar to Payson in size and/or circumstance. It's acceptance or adoption is not the only possibility of addressing the potential catastrophic fire that everyone is so worried about. But I still take the position, that it is shortsighted of those elected officials to even be worried about what some future developer might think , when they are responsible with finding some method of mitigating that severe fire potential, first and foremost. Currently, the Payson City Council has shown their concern for the fire potential to the point that they do not currently even have Fire Chief, and they eliminated the position of the Fire Marshall. That shows a real concern, right?
"And since the code calls for the cutting down of trees and the complete clearing of trees and brush around houses, that means that its adoption would call for something I thought you were against."
I still stand by that view. The "code" does not demand that every tree or vegetation be removed in order to provide firefighters with a "defensible space". That is hyperbole and alarmist on it's face and very contributory to why people resist ANY recommendations from those who are charged with defending their lives and property in case of a major wild fire. I have personally made the conscious decision to accept the known risks (from very personal experience) of living in the forest interface. I can still enjoy trees on my property as well as those on adjoining properties. Again, one of the reasons people choose to live in this environment. The MAJOR difference between me and those folks who are wringing their hands and screaming about the potential devastating fire that IS coming, is I accept that potential as part of my decision to live here and have insurance to cover the replacement should I lose everything except our lives. I do not expect the "Fire Department" with their limited resources and abilities against such a fire, to save my bacon. Most people (in the absence of my personal experiences) who live in Payson and other places have a completely different expectation. And it falls to their elected representatives to address the potential threat(s) and expectations of it's citizens. Even if the worst case scenario plays out, at least the City Council can forthrightly say they acted upon the recommendations of the "experts" and that is all they can be expected to do. Even a IWUIC adopted without amendment is not a cure all against such a potential. But sitting around without doing anything of significance is tantamount to malfeasance of office. I think some in Payson refer to it as "Fiddling while Rome burns".
The council should have to take turns of a shift at the fire station and then on a fire truck in full dress and be near the fire but out of the way of the firemen, to see what the h--- goes on when something is on fire.
Maybe it will be their home or near it that is burning.
I don't think any of them have a clue.
Thanks, Ron. I appreciate your going to all the trouble of clarifying where you stand.
"I appreciate...[to]....please point it out and I will humbly stand corrected."
Nothing to point out, Ron. That first paragraph reflects a good, sensible position. I can see where the problem came in; I'll show you.
Reading the first article, which mentioned draconian changes in the code, I then read through the code itself and saw that if it were applied as written it would wreak havoc with any county or city up here in Rim Country. You, very sensibly, feel that the town council or the county, should pick and choose among the parts of the code. I too feel they should, but I know doggone well they'd toss out the good parts, keep the bad ones, and let the costs fall on individuals.
I agree with what you say in "I have personally made the conscious decision to accept the known risks (from very personal experience) of living in the forest interface." Amen! It's a matter of choice. I might be willing to go farther than you would toward fire safety, giving up the several pines and other conifers on my property IF the county were to get rid of the chain of matches (called pine trees) running from the forest to my front door. But you don't have to feel that way, and I would fight for your rights.
Not only that, but if you were running the show I wouldn't have the same concerns because I know you would apply reason to the problem. But frankly the articles and the details of the code itself scare the hell out of me.
Reading the code as its stands I can see this happening: You have to replace your roof. For that you have to have a building permit. The permit requires the work to be done "by code." The code calls for copper clad roofs, no eaves, and a maze of other construction changes that would cost over $35,000 for almost any house, and wouldn't add one whit bit of fire safety as long as the chain of match-like trees from the forest exists. And if that chain of trees were removed there would be no need for copper roofs and all the major construction changes required to rebuild houses without eaves.
That's why I was certain the Town Council would turn down the code; it goes too far, does the wrong things in some cases, and puts the costs on the average guy.
Okay, bottom line: We agree. Your position is a good one. If you were running the show I would expect things to get done, and done right ! You I trust. I thought we agreed, but I had to ask.
Arizona, with all these conifers, a climate so dry, and legislatures that ignore the fact that the only way to save towns is to make towns themselves defensible, is a disaster. The very first thing I did when I bought here was mow down the four foot high weeds in the fields around me. Did I care who owned them? No! It was my house I was protecting.
My solution? Make the town's themselves defensible with wide fire breaks, and do what can reasonably be done to make individual houses fire safe.
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