"Austin is one big real estate play." Brian Rodgers, Austin real estate
investor and whistle-blower.
In 2007, Brian Rodgers generously offered the Austin City Council a series
of ways to protect Austin residents from some of the consequences of
growing too fast. He put in his own money for studies; he gave hundreds of
hours of advice on protecting water utility rates and so much more.
Brian had a bunch of solutions. Some, like commercial real estate sales
disclosure, are on my other Solutions pages.
I'm bringing one of the big ones up here on this page: Impact Fees.
But first, I must say that though Rodgers’ solutions made and still make perfect
sense, there was and still is no political will in either political party for reining in
growth gone wild in Texas. Both parties have given the reins over to those
pushing the pedal to the metal, employing complex and sometimes obscure
subsidies to bring more people here at breakneck speed. Simply put, there's
just too much money to be made to put growth on a more sustainable diet.
Ergo, Rodgers' most important point for me was this. Growth will kill growth.
How? Therein lies the debate. Higher cost of living, lower quality of life, roads
choked with traffic, water rationing. Or maybe we have to look forward to
damaged aquifers. They can't be "fixed," folks! (Read my water Solution page.)
Brian taught me that developers are not evil people. But it is their business
to offload the costs of growth – the demand for new roads, new schools,
new public safety needs, etc. -- onto the backs of current residents to pay for
the infrastructure needs of those not here yet. As soon as the new residents
arrive, they assume their share of those costs for those yet to come.
Check out the chart on this page. My home state of Florida allows taxing
authorities the right to impose much more robust development impact fees
on new developments than we do in Texas.
These fees are one-time charges to developers to help pay for the infrastructure needed for new developments, thereby helping to make growth pay for growth.
Florida developers pay a total of 10 one-time impact fees for new schools, new public safety (police, fire, and EMS), etc., and new libraries.
Texas only allows four limited impact fees for water, stormwater, sewer, and roads. And, only Texas cities can impose these fees. Texas counties can "eat cake". In Florida, impact fees are charged by counties as well as cities.
Neither of my opponents talk about this "growth machine" that is doing real harm to our residents and resources. That, in itself, should tell you it's time for an independent voter revolt.
To understand more about these issues I refer you to Texas2036.org, a non-profit founded by Tom Luce, an old ally of Ross Perot.