Get a Plan, Man -- In regard to the article "Handling Growth" (5/13/04), should I be amazed or just stupefied? Are developers in North Idaho really that naive to believe that fleecing off portions of Sandpoint will benefit the local and regional economy? Or are they just out to make a quick buck by exploiting the natural resources of the Northwest again and again and again?
Either way, I don't understand it at all. As was stated repeatedly by [the real estate agents] Mr. Beutler and Mr. Henley, growth is going to occur, as it has in North Idaho and everywhere else, but I disagree with the assertion that growth has to come before infrastructure. Sure, that's the way it has been dealt with in the past -- and look at all of the problems that governments and residents have to deal with because of unplanned development and unrestricted growth. And when we're talking about "North Idaho as one of the last bastions of the free market," should government and the people not take extra time to develop a plan? The reason that many of these folks (from California, ahem...) moved here was for the environment and the serenity that it brings. Without planning to deal with growth in a booming market, within 10 years, there will be more infrastructure problems than anyone will want to deal with (just look at towns such as Bozeman, Mont., and Bellingham, Wash., or at some great local examples in our own county).
I really hope that native Idahoans aren't "less inclined to legislate" for restricted growth, because if they are, I'll see you in Spokane County very shortly (or is that part of Idaho now?). Anyway, good luck! This is just a quote by Edward T. McMahon, from the Conservation Fund: "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how."
Growth a Slippery Slope -- Great article -- "Handling Growth" (5/13/04) -- on the rapid growth in Kootenai and Bonner counties. One has to believe this is largely due to effective marketing and "word-of-mouth" that has gotten out to friends and relatives still looking for their escapes out of over-priced, over-crowded locales like Seattle, Portland, and SoCal.
What's concerning about the rapid growth that Cara Gardner alluded to in the article is the alarming lack of planning (and concern) for this type of development. What were once bedroom communities are now being bought up as fast as the wealthy newcomers can get their hands on them. Sure is interesting how, despite the moratorium on building permits in Spokane County due to a full study being needed for the effects of the aquifer, and levels of pollutants allowed back into the Spokane River, Kootenai County continues to issue building permits.
The comments by real estate agents Beutler and Jackson-Heim should be concerning to residents of the area who seem to think limited-controlled growth is nothing to worry about, such as: "There are a lot of theories out there. I can tell you, it doesn't work."
So, unplanned, non-cohesive growth philosophies do? The fact that "smart growth" isn't something being worked on or planned for is especially disheartening. Take a look at what's going on in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Liberty Lake: cookie-cutter housing developments that create the congestion and problems that so many of us live here to avoid in the first place.
If citizens don't get involved, and this type of growth continues, even sleepy Sandpoint will have issues down the road. It's ignorant to think it won't happen. I've seen it in other communities, where sparsely populated, rural bedroom communities become everyone's "oasis" and the floodgates open.
What [Minnesota transplant] Mr. Wahlin commented on about Post Falls beginning to turn into this now can happen anywhere, as people from out of state want to jump on the relatively inexpensive housing bandwagon. It must be nice to be able to "sell an 1,800 sq. ft. house for about $400,000" in California, and move here and buy more house that you'll ever need. For those of us that started here, it will become tougher to afford real estate in the years to come as prices get driven up.
Mining for Facts -- On a recent Spokane radio talk show, Ms. Mary Mitchell of the Rock Creek Alliance claimed that the coming Rock Creek Mine would be deleterious to the water quality of the Clark Fork River and Lake Pend Oreille. I would like to correct these misconceptions.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requires that water discharge from any source does not degrade public waterways. Basically, this means that any water added to the Clark Fork River must be at least as clean as the water already within the Clark Fork River. The 1,000-page Environmental Impact Statement, painstakingly authored jointly by the Forest Service and DEQ over a 10-year period, addressed all of the possible discharge scenarios. They require that all water be treated to stringent standards prior to mixing with river water.
Further, the total discharge from the project, mostly natural groundwater, is estimated to be about 3 million gallons per day. This is about 35 gallons per second. The flow volume of the Clark Fork River at Rock Creek is about 150,000 gallons per second. This ratio creates a great deal of dilution. There is no threat to water quality. Get a life, Ms. Mitchell.
Sincere Sympathy -- As a Democrat, I must say my hat is off to the Republicans. No, not for their political beliefs, but rather, for the manner in which so many of them are improving their writing skills. Many have become quite adept in their attempts to directly avoid the problem area of the Bush's administration. They're working hard to convince themselves that they weren't wrong to support an administration that uses them and their votes to reward the top-most segment of the taxpayers, corporations, the oil industry and the military-industrial complex, all at their expense.
Most voters usually try to emulate their parents' voting patterns, not realizing that today's business, political and economic conditions are completely different - almost the opposite of what their parents faced.
My heart goes out to those attempting (in vain) to justify the performance of an administration that changed the entire world's opinion of our nation and of the callow misuse of our military. It's so hard to admit one's own errors. Please accept my sympathy.
Publication date: 05/27/04