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20th January
2009
written by Arizona Kid

The roots go back decades and we are reaping today what leaders sowed many years ago. Home building and real estate activities deliver shy of $3b per year to our economy.   Unless and until we diversify away from growth related industries thousands of Tucson residents will be dependent on growth for their livelihood. Is that bad?

 Roger Yohem VP of SAHBA summed it up pretty well. Read the full article HERE:

Anti-business genesis

From a development perspective, a complex maze of reluctant leaders, ingrained employees and citizen resistance are the roots of the anti-business policies coming out of Tucson City Hall.

City leaders “have to direct staff to develop standards and the process for encouraging development,” said a builder. Instead, the “entrenched bureaucracy” won’t allow progress to happen.

“Staffers have their own personal agenda, which I believe, is no growth,” he added. “The result is anarchy.”

A former member of the City Council spoke of the process. If an assignment conflicted with a staff member’s agenda, it was stonewalled. The official confronted employees and a typical response was: “I’ve been here almost 20 years, you’ll be gone in four and I’ll still be here.”
There is no pressure to perform. And many employees are protected by a union.
“They can’t be fired, so many feel bullet-proof. They don’t have to answer to anybody,” said a director of SAHBA.

The city’s anti-business movement “got legs” during the terms of Democratic mayors Tom Volgy (1987-91) and George Miller (1991-99). Both had won council seats in 1977.

“As no-growthers, they started to empower extremists and staff to follow their lead,” the SAHBA director said. “The people they hired decades ago are killing today’s redevelopment efforts. Many have moved up into policy-making positions with their negative attitudes toward progress.”

Regarding the conflicts of business versus neighborhoods, Volgy once said, “It’s hard for business groups to understand what the neighborhoods want, and vice versa. It’s very hard to put themselves in each other’s shoes.”

Yet Volgy’s “Kumbaya” thesis never developed into a serious collaboration. The narrow-minded NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything), and NOTE (Not Over There Either) protesters trumped progress.

As the city’s finance director told the council this spring, income from sales taxes will be flat in 2008 for the first time in 30 years because, “There’s no growth.”

No political cover

City leaders lack the political grit to confront the no-growth crusaders. Proposed projects fade away despite the widespread benefits.

“A radical minority dictates city policy,” says a SAHBA director. “There’s a handful of people who claim to represent neighborhoods but they really don’t. It’s always the same two or three people, who have become the city’s de facto planning department.”

One way to restore balance is to give politicians political cover. Development dissenters should get 60 days to prove their claims about traffic, property values, and other concerns.

“Make neighborhoods do what developers are required to do. Pass a mandate that they prepare and pay for their own study,” he said.

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