The May 28, 2014 Independent hits major aspects of what's gone wrong in Colorado Springs and the U.S. The issues: development, taxes, potholes, and the loss of farm and ranch lands. What's little understood, or simply ignored, is how these issues are tied together and the negative results of growth policies.
The letter "Pay them taxes" laments that "minimal services" and potholes are the result of living in a region with low taxes. In News there's 'A drop in the bucket', also on the abundance of "roughly 15,000 potholes" and the lack of funds to deal with them: "Bach said the budget didn't have funding for potholes. ... Bach has proposed issuing debt to pay for infrastructure city-wide" Really? Colorado Springs has to take on debt for infrastructure?
City Sage in "Why we're not living downtown" bemoans the regulatory burdens on developers and paints those who take them on as "brave and venturesome."
The film review of "This hard land" is a review of the flim on the "tragic story of visionary cattleman Kirk Hanna" and the issues of "urban sprawl development" and "grassland conservation."
So how do these stories illustrate multiple results of dysfunctional policies related to growth and "development?" Here's how.
The root is that current growth and "development" polices, instead of benefitting regions, burden them with infrastructure backlogs. There are many obvious impacts.
One current impact is need to deal with impermeable surface runoff; the Stormwater Task Force's numbers from late 2013: "$850 million in needed capital improvements for drainage and nearly $11 million a year." In 2012, "the American Society of Civil Engineering gave the city a "D-" for its stormwater system capacity, operations and maintenance, drainage basin planning and public safety." And this was before the "two recent fires (Waldo Canyon in 2012 and Black Forest in 2013) .. drastically added to the stormwater problems."
So we're talking in the neighborhood of $1 billion dollars backlog for stormwater alone as tax-payer subsidies to pay for the past costs of growth. Clearly these costs should have been paid for as growth occurred, not as a later charge to taxpayers. As a slide in one presentation states, the approach should be "Use Your Property So You Do Not Harm Others."
Another example is SDS. "The Southern Delivery System (SDS) project is the largest of its kind to be undertaken in Colorado, US. The project will carry Arkansas River water from the Pueblo Reservoir to the cities of Colorado Springs and Fountain ...". The cost is enormous; it is "being executed by Colorado Springs Utilities .. at a total cost of $1.45B." This is being paid for by charges to your utility bills; they are subsidies to pay for future growth.
Every new development creates unpaid-for burdens on taxpayers for infrastructure not on the development proper. These include the costs for mitigation of increased traffic, for utility expansion, libraries, schools, etc.
Here's a case study of traffic impacts: Traffic Report Analysis - Houck Estate Rezoning 1997.
Analysis of the developer's (Classic Homes) traffic report shows adverse impacts on traffic level of service, despite their contention to the public, the press, city council and the planning commission that their improvements would "make traffic move faster and better."