It Ain’t Easy… But Think of Two Things At Once
It is not always easy, but it is mandatory to have competing interests in mind simultaneously when planning a City’s future. Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little mind,” To cap area and population is not to deny the need for changing elements within a capped city system.
Here’s an example. Affordable housing to attract necessary in-city employees is an item many residents agree on emotionally if not financially, but that’s a thought that can co-exist with a desire to set caps. We must have the discipline to know that we can afford no more than -- well, what we can afford. Fiscal responsibility says you need money to rent the place where your heart is. If we really want to make affordable housing available, first find the necessary amount within the City budget. Then conceptually it is as simple as the City’s buying the house of someone who’s moving away, or bidding on a lien-sale. It is just a matter of determination to accomplish the desired outcome. If we can’t afford to do it without land-leeching, then I’d say however nice an idea, we just can’t do it. I don’t offer a full blueprint, but such acquired houses could be rented to employees, or sold under discounted right-of-first-refusal contracts even as the Cheese Importers owners, the White family, bought a City property to put their own funds into and create a really warm and successful attraction. Win-win! A disused City property was put into productive use without land-leeching.
As another example, suppose Longmonters want a performance venue for the Symphony and other activities of the arts. As financially responsible citizens, if we want them badly enough we can tax ourselves for them. “Tax”. Not a bad word. Taxation is how one pays for the things we want our Government to do. Or, if a business enterprise figures that Longmonters want arts badly enough to support a venue by rental fees and ticket sales, said enterprise may build one on non-leeched land and set about taking out loans to conduct business. Or perhaps private philanthropy will suffice? It is not necessary, under the zero-default option, to admit more residents through the land-leech process.
As for affordable housing for non-City private industry, similar models could be developed – or, per capitalist philosophy, let corporations find themselves obliged to pay salaries that will be supportive of their employees’ ability to find necessary housing. I think that even Ayn Rand could get aboard that notion. A city government is not obligated to support its internal industries in that manner (though somehow, taxpayers have decided to build numerous sports stadia – but that’s another matter, and it is per the conscious informed decisions of taxpayers).