Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The math on growth

I do my best to present well-reasoned observations about growth, but over and over again I watch as huge-growth partisans interpret my comments shallowly, ignore my reasoning, and then begin to bark like badly trained canines. Ellen Gillespie's howling in her letter about me last week showed her commitment to that narrow and partisan ideology, but ideology is a disaster if you ignore the math.

Here's the math, Ellen. Consider our constrained rental housing market and the upward pressure that enormous growth from three hotels will place on that market. It's obvious that housing costs will rise substantially. It's also obvious that the first casualties will be the young people who are least able to afford the increase. I think it's been a cruel hoax to say that huge growth will benefit young people when in fact that growth will make it even harder for them to be here. The second casualty will be the integrated economy this town so desperately needs, because housing costs and quality of life affect a company's decision to locate here.

For years both the government and the chamber have paid lip service to an integrated economy but they've never done a single thing to promote it. Now they're advocating huge growth in a single sector, and that growth is guaranteed to crowd out the other sectors.

We're heading for what will likely be a very difficult winter in the tourism industry, and we should ask the question what would it have been like if we'd developed the kind of high-paying, year-round jobs that stabilize our economy and give young people a real foothold here?

The problems we face today came from excessive growth and policies that didn't value an integrated economy. Making that mistake again would be remarkably, unconscionably stupid.

Lee Chubb


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