Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A New Model of Development For Clark County?

The suburban sprawl method of development. Embraced by countless communities across the nation, including our fair community. It doesn't work. It's been proven countless times. It creates homogeneous landscape of franchised businesses, big box stores, and cookie-cutter subdivisions. It paves over countless acres of critical wetlands, priceless farmlands, and much needed green space. In the long-term, it's an economic failure. The tax revenue generated is outpaced by the cost of community services. In the short-term, we the taxpayers are subsidizing a method of development that is doomed to failure and creates a generally unhealthy environment for all living things. And yet we keep on truckin' down that same road that leads us off the edge of the cliff every time...


Developers, realtors, and business industry associations are notoriously large campaign contributors. The windfall of development fee dollars , construction permit fees, and business licensing at the beginning of the development process are great for pet projects and the government balance sheet if you're an elected official holding office at that moment. BUT when the development dollars dry up...well, you know. Look where we are right now. Clark County doesn't have a pot to piss in and the current incarnation of the BOCC has little hope of bestowing any financial incentives on their friends, supporters, and business associates.

So what's a politician to do if he want to make an impression on his constituents and bolster his chances for re-election?

Pay attention to his community, not just a few influential individuals and special interest groups. Get back in touch with who we are and what we value. Look towards the future, think outside the box, and be willing to take chances. Clark County has an amazing agricultural history. WE were a breadbasket of the nation decades before southern California figured out how to steal enough water to plow the desert and investment by American agribusiness in foreign agricultural ventures utilizing wage slavery and American taxpayer dollars to subsidize their operations and pulled the rug out from under us. However, we do have a growing number of smaller farms setting up shop in Clark County again these days. And despite the continuous spewing of politispeak and disinformation by government officials and their cronies, agriculture is alive in Clark County, the folks that are working the soil here are passionate, honest, and dedicated (despite the fact they don't make the wages of home builders and elected officials), and "hobby farms" will play an increasingly important role in food production and food system security in the very near future.

I propose we look forward to future development in our community with an open mind and a pro-agriculture policy attitude. We need to demand development that works towards farmland preservation and the support of local agriculture. There's no reason why farm folks and city folks can't live together side by side and mutually benefit from their proximity. We'll all be glad we made the decision to change our attitude about "urban" development and our children will be thankful for generations to come.

And the really nice thing is, we don't have to reinvent the wheel. Let's follow the path already being blazed by a number of forward thinking individuals around the nation.

Check out this article recently published in the NY Times.

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. — The bewildered Iowan who converted his farm into a ballpark in “Field of Dreams” in 1989 might reverse the move today. From Vermont to central California, developers are creating subdivisions around organic farms to attract buyers. If you plant it, these developers believe, they will buy.

Increasingly, subdivisions, usually master-planned developments at which buyers buy home sites or raw land, have been treating farms as an amenity. “There are currently at least 200 projects that include agriculture as a key community component,” said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow with the Urban Land Institute.

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

Organic Farms As Subdivision Amenities

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