Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Planners Like Their Plans

A recent Journal Times article, Sunday perhaps, noted the impressive list of major development projects pending in the area. Here is what a few of our leaders had to say on the subject:

Mayor Becker said "I am so glad that Mount Pleasant and Caledonia took the time to do master plans" and "The most important thing the area can do ... is to execute development plans well."

Mount Pleasant Village Administrator Michael Andreasen said "It is going to take flexibility and vision from all local leaders of the local communities, and courage from the development community to move forward on some of the bold plans we have in place right now."

RCEDC President Gordy Kacala said "With water and sewer extended... that enables our area to grow significantly for the first time and that is in a planned way. It will be very similar to Kenosha County, but more planned."

The common theme here is that government planning of the economy (or at least residential and business development) is unquestionably good. The more planning the better.

I beg to differ. Government planning undermines individual planning. When government dictates what uses are permissible for your property, they reduce the value of your property. Suppose the government decides that a new home must exceed 3000 square feet and must sit on a five acre lot. A developer might like to build densely packed apartments or condos to satisfy the needs of his individual customers. The governments requirements prevent this. Thus the government plans exclude some development projects that would satisfy the land seller, the developer, and individual home buyers. Since the land owner will have fewer potential buyers, the property is worth less than it would be without the government planners. The developer, deprived of the full array of development options, may well have a decreased opportunity to profit from his development. And home buyers, also limitted in their options by planners, will be fewer in number and less happy having been deprived of the most optimal housing options. All of these government plans have the effect of lowering property values.

Of course, there are many ways that the government can lower the value of our property. High taxes, poor services at needlessly high prices (RUSD comes to mind) , excessive regulations, inneffective law enforcement and senseless incentives that attract unproductive people who overutilize government social services, all combine to lower our property values.

Racine has historically suffered from depressed property values, because of the poor planning of our government officials. So while I am thrilled that developers are sniffing around Racine, I suspect that it is not because of our planners, but in spite of them.

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