Friday, July 22, 2011

And why does it have to be Texas?

Almost a year ago to the day, I declared that the master planned community was dead (click here). And now I read that there are Dr. Frankensteins putting electrodes to the necks of moribund and dead communities hoping to jolt them to life - in Texas. If there is one aspect of the development community that is never ending is their optimism, even in the face a dead market. I still maintain, as then, that this particular institution, these master plans, these new towns, these development prayers will remain dead for a long time. And I’m an optimist.

Sure, there may be a few sparks that ignite hope, but a sustained life will be difficult. The complexities of gaining approvals, entitlements, and funding are just a few of the obstacles to overcome. But it is the market, as always, that determines whether the carcass on the table will rise. We can go through all the political dancing and written reports and EIRs but, without the customer, nothing will succeed. Exceptions are very few to the point of being miracles when you see them. They are like Lazarus from the grave.

And why does it have to be Texas?

If you peruse the economic scene and push your way through the babble on the tube and elsewhere, something does seem to be happening, a spark is seen in the dark night. Where confidence is a strong, things can happen. While other states fight amongst themselves on how to wring and twist the last dollar out of their job creators, there are a few states with the clarity to see the opposite by encouraging business’s participation in their state’s economy. By keeping regulations within sane limits and watching how much silly money is spent, business will move toward them, like magnets that draw iron. They will make jobs, they will require housing and services, and they will need planned communities.

The process is more akin to shocking the body with low voltage over a long and sustained period, slowly awaking the beast. It is a methodical process with long term solutions in sight. Lightning strikes to tall towers may do great things for politicians but they do little for the long term economy.

And why does it have to be Texas?

As a Californian by choice, it is very sad and distressing to see how such a wonderful resource, California, is being squandered. We have become timid and fearful; we put off today hoping for a better solution tomorrow. We over regulate with thousands of associations, groups, councils, commissions, and boards. We are afraid to put the electrodes to the neck of the beast in fear of offending someone. We open little economic free fire zones, then pull the ammunition. We attack the redevelopment districts then offer nothing to replace them. We are so afraid that one group will get more than its “fair” share; so no one gets to eat. The whole state should be declared an economic free trade zone!

A client from out of state belittled and demeaned California. He effectively said it was done, toast, dead, put a fork in it. His friends from Jackson Hole, ex-Californians, only told tales of woe and how proud they were to escape. In my opinion they are quitters, they made their pile here in the state, put many of these wonderful politicians in office, then high-tailed it out here, wagging their fingers, clucking their tongues. Shame, shame.

And why does it have to be Texas?

There must be a slash and burn mentality in California, clear the deadwood, pull a Minnesota, develop a New Jersey attitude, find the swagger and the first-over-the-top leadership we once had. We are competing with every state in the union for jobs; in fact whole regions are competing with us. Be warned, understandings are being made between states, alliances are slowly forming, i.e. Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan; the southeast, and the northeast corridor. California is a state, a region, and an international competitor. It is an economy onto itself, but looks more like Greece or Portugal. It is much easier than we think if we can only get out of our way.

And why does it have to be Texas?

Think about it.

Stay tuned . . . .

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