Builders’ study: Growth pays for itself
May 31, 2007
Housing growth pays for itself through the generation of jobs, taxes and impact fees, an economist for the National Association of Home Builders said Wednesday.
Wages generated from home building are subsequently spent in the local economy, producing more jobs, which fuels the need for housing, according to a report by Elliott Eisenberg, Ph.D.
The one-year local economic benefits of building 451 single-family homes in Douglas County include $132 million in local income, $13.3 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments and 3,109 local jobs, the report said. Building 451 homes a year over the next 10 years could produce $318 million in revenues and almost $34 million in taxes, Eisenberg said.
Open and animated, he spoke to a small group of Realtors, builders and others in the construction industry in Carson City on Wednesday.
“You live 500 miles from Las Vegas, the fastest growing city in the country. It’s been that way for years,” he said. “A phenomenal number of people are moving there and if building homes wasn’t paying for itself, they would have a problem.
“This growth is not causing fiscal ruin by any stretch,” he said. “It can’t.”
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Prompted by efforts to curb growth in Douglas County, the Builders Association commissioned the National Association of Home Builders to present the findings of the positive impact.
Eisenberg, who gives these lectures all over the country, used data on Douglas County compiled by Brian Bonnenfant, from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada. The study compares benefits to costs for all new home construction in Douglas County in 2006.
According to those figures, the average cost of a house in Douglas County is estimated at just over $500,000, significantly higher than neighboring counties.
Residents want to sustain the valley as it is and the views, together with wide open spaces, are part of the reason prices are higher, according to one realtor.
Eisenberg suggests increasing density and building higher in areas that won’t impact the viewshed. For example, houses could be built on smaller lots or be two stories rather than one and smaller houses could be built in different parts of town.
“I don’t see a three-story building anywhere. Is there a law against it?” he said. “Delaying growth won’t do any good. It can be delayed, but in the end the result is the same. Everything ever done to stop construction has failed.”
Carson City has had a three-percent growth cap since the 1970s, which stopped the big builders, but services have not declined, one participant said.
“I don’t think it was a bad decision,” he said.
Eisenberg said proper planning is important.
Commissioner Kelly Kite said the report will not influence his vote concerning a growth ordinance in Douglas County.
“I think it’s accurate, but not much different from the report financed by the Coalition for Smart Growth,” he said. “Growth has slowed considerably this year. We’ll probably issue fewer than 200 building permits.
“When you look at what we’ve gone through with the budget,” he said. “That substantiates the report.”
A 2-percent compounded growth cap was approved by Douglas County commissioners by a 3-1 vote April 5, with the caveat that the approval be subject to more scrutiny and adjustments in the coming months.
A second hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the upcoming meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, 10 a.m. on June 7 at the old courtroom of the Douglas County Administration Building.
Susie Vasquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 211.