What’s the 20-year goal for Douglas County? | RecordCourier.com

What’s the 20-year goal for Douglas County?

by Ralph Elvik

In order to plan, one needs to have a goal. It is the essence of good planning. I have not heard that community development has stated a 20-year goal. Perhaps that would be detrimental to their plans for rapid growth. A goal should have been expressed when they employed the consultants Design Workshops. If not, why not? If it was, what was the stated goal?

The 280 annual residential unit growth rate voted for by the citizens would result in a population of 62,200 in 20 years. I believe that this would yield the best possible goal. It would retain some of the open space and quality of life we presently enjoy. There would be heavy traffic congestion, more crime, drugs and domestic violence but the less than with any of the other greater growth rates. The quality of life presently trumpeted by Realtors would still be fairly good. A slower rate of development would lessen the cost to taxpayers and possibly leave more money for necessary public services including county road maintenance, law enforcement, for seniors and those with low income. Residential growth costs from $1.15 to $1.25 for every dollar in tax revenue generated. The faster the growth the greater the cost. Water availability is an unknown.

A 2 percent annual compounded residential growth rate would result in a population of 72,161 in 20 years. More traffic, drugs, crime and violence. A greater shortage of money for roads, law enforcement and required services.

A 2 1/2 percent annual compounded residential growth rate would result in a population of just under 80,000. A still greater cost of development resulting in less money for the required services. Less open space and lower quality of life.

A 3 percent annual compounded residential growth rate would result in a population of 87,708. Development costs to the tax payers would increase. There will be really significant increases in traffic, congestion and shortages of public facilities and funding for them.

A 3 1/2 percent annual compounded residential growth rate would double our population to nearly 100,000 in 20 years. Would we have water available and if so, at what cost? How much would reclamation facilities cost? We would have an increase in under-funding for law enforcement, county roads, libraries, museums, senior services and low-income needs. I don’t hear the advocates of rapid growth addressing any of these problems. Traffic from Gardnerville through Minden to Carson City would be gridlock and road rage morning and night. (Nothing has seriously been considered regarding a by-pass the last 10 years and if initiated it would take years to implement). There will be more crime, drugs, violence and domestic abuse. Under-funding of all services will increase. What open space will there be? What about the highly touted quality of life?

All legitimate studies I have read prove that growth does not pay. Even at the 280 number approved by Douglas County voters, the development would still cost the tax payers the difference between the development costs for utilities, roads, law enforcement and required services and the taxes generated. Certainly it has been clearly and indisputedly demonstrated that rapid development has cost Douglas County tax payers. The last election had three tax measures on the ballot to provide money for seriously needed services. Our county roads are three years behind in scheduled maintenance due to lack of funding. The cost accelerates as the roads rapidly deteriorate. (Yet our commissioners made an agreement to provide liability and maintenance on the underpass in Carson City and a Carson City road as a gift to a developer.) We have grossly understaffed and under-funded our law enforcement. (Yet the Commission is building an expensive, possibly costing $10 million parking garage for the benefit of special interests.) Housing costs are extremely high. The rapid rise in land cost per unit, caused by rapid development, being the biggest percentage factor. The water issue is being ignored. The commission has funded three water studies and with no resolution expected when the third one is completed. I believe that the last two were stalling tactics.

n Ralph Elvik is a Jacks Valley resident.