Editor’s note: Former county supervisor John Spencer, a land surveyor by trade and now a CABPRO director, penned this article in the July CABPRO newsletter. While blaming regulations for our local woes, he largely ignores the other factors at play in his “analysis”: lots of home foreclosures, banks unwilling to lend, an aging and declining population, not diversifying our economy beyond construction and real estate, and so on.
Instead, he paints a broad brush: “The regulatory bar: in regulation we include State, Federal, local, EPA, CARB, OSHA, building regulations, Air Board, Water Board, waste discharge permits, appointed commissions, and some 1700+ new laws that are enacted each and every year without fail.”
I never understood why we elected ideologues — from the left or the right — to local office when so many of our problems are non-partisan and more pragmatic. You can see why the local contractor’s association and vocal, locals such as Russ Steele, George Rebane and Todd Juvinall loved John (and are PO’ed that Terry Lamphier, of all people, defeated him), but it doesn’t change the complexity of the factors that are at play. We need to face the whole truth, not just rely on the anti-government soundbites.
Click here and go to page 4 to read the article and charts.
Before I left office (Nevada County Supervisor) January 2011, I gathered up some information on development in this County since 1970. What it showed was somewhat interesting and explains what was happening during a less regulatory system. Chances are other counties have the same sort of history.
The graph below shows the total number of subdivision maps that were recorded in Nevada County during the following years. Parcel Maps (the taller bars) create 4 or fewer parcels; Subdivision maps (the really short ones) create more than 4 parcels. As you can see the late 70′s were the boom years where commerce, jobs, and housing were moving forward. There was no problem with finding work.
This set the stage for creating
activity in the home construction market. In 1995 Nevada County took delivery of a new General Plan that made it much more difficult to create anything new or develop business.
This is not a scientific graph; it is only representative of what appears to be going on. In early 2008 (and several years before) there was plenty of money in the system, wages were up and although the regulatory bar was tall there was enough money for us to get over the regulatory hump to create things, commerce, jobs & housing.
As the economy took a nose-dive almost one half of the wealth was lost on Wall Street. While the wealth was taken from the system the regulatory bar continued to get taller, it does even today. From the crash, wages started their trend downward as well. Wealth is coming back but very slowly. With reduced wealth, wages, and a very slow economic recovery it gets much more difficult to get over the regulatory bar, thus no commerce.”