Sunday, May 31, 2009

Try to Keep Up

Alex Hekimian is “feeling rushed.” According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun today, Alex and his Columbia Council buddies, Phil Kirsch and Cindy Coyle believe that the county is moving too quickly on ZRA 102. ZRA 102 would change the process for altering Columbia’s village centers by, among other things, removing General Growth Properties from the role of gatekeeper. As it now stands, if an owner of a village center wants to make any significant changes to the center they most first receive the blessing of GGP. This requirement is a holdover from the early days of the planned community and may no longer be relevant today. GGP does not own any of the Columbia village centers. Most of its land holdings are concentrated in Town Center and Gateway Corporate Park

Cindy, Phil and Alex need to try and keep up. This is hardly what I would call a rush job. ZRA 102 was originally introduced last August and has been the subject of several community meetings over the past year. Additional public hearings will begin to be held on June 15th and, according to the sponsor of the legislation, Councilperson Mary Kay Sigaty, “the council will schedule as many public hearings as it takes to hear from everyone who wants to voice an opinion.” 

That seems pretty reasonable to me. A year worth of debate followed by a month or so of public hearings should be ample time to adequately address this issue. If this is not enough time for Phil, Cindy and Alex perhaps they need to rethink whether they have the time and energy for public service.


Anonymous said...

I don't quite get why, in this economy resulting from abuses of deregulation, that some, to even their own detriment, still promote less regulation as a panacea while ignoring the many pitfalls.

The biggest issue I see with ZRA 102 is that it seems to be focused at one current, specific problem (WLVC's owner, Kimco, a competitor of GGP, being at the mercy of GGP for getting WLVC rezoned) while setting up the opportunity for multiple other problems.

That opportunity for other problems arising lies in the resolution being half-baked: it acknowledges Columbia progressing beyond the original developer's control (rightly so as it no longer owns the majority of Columbia's property) and would dismiss the original developer from being gatekeeper of zoning changes therein, but doesn't solve the ongoing need for ensuring Columbia's model gets still necessary protection by a gatekeeper that has a fiduciary interest in Columbia succeeding.

Carefully planned and carefully protected development in Columbia certainly did help it become a good community in many respects. Changing how those protections are executed may be in order, but dropping some of those layers of protection just doesn't seem wise.

If ZRA 102 passes as is, my guess is every village center would be in danger of getting zoned out of existence, converted over to more lucrative-for-the-developer denser housing, relegating Columbia to less convenient, far more polluting car- or- bus-bound drives to far more distant shopping for daily needs. That outcome just doesn't seem to jive with all the double speak about walkable streets, more pedestrian-friendly, livable places.

Your "there-there" will be sitting in the resulting gridlock trying to get across town to buy aspirin for the headache you have from sitting in gridlock. Try keeping up in that.

Freemarket said...

Wow. I have deep sympathy for anyone who thinks that our current economic situation is the result of "abuses of deregulation". That's just uninformed and ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Freemarket's right. It was regulation that caused the current situation, not deregulation and certainly not private abuse of the system.

Anonymous said...

Quite honestly.. the best thing that can happen to most of the village centers is a date with a bulldozer..

they are difficult to lease, economically not viable, and in the wrong locations and too small to meet today's needs.

Anonymous said...

FM and 1:55,

Sorry to pop your bubbles, but I'll simply direct you to Wikipedia's "Financial crisis of 2007–2009", specifically Section 3, "Causes". Perhaps you'll notice Subsection 3.4, "Deregulation".


Your take on village centers is a bubble all its own, running counter to the obvious reality that every Columbia village center has continued to do business for decades.

Today's needs, especially with today's families having a much smaller percentage of stay-at-home parents (meaning less time in the day for collecting the day's household's needs), all the more seek the shopping convenience of a neighborhood village center.

Anonymous said...

If dereg wasn't one major cause, how do you explain the banking/ins co crises following Clinton's repeal of Glass-Stegal combined with Bush's vast loosening of the derivatives market?

Freemarket said...

Anon, this is off topic of this post so I am reluctant to go down this road here, but be careful in how you interpret the Wiki article. The deregulation section of the article you cited is not an authoritative analysis of what happened, but rather it says something like “Critics have argued that [deregulation was the cause…]”. It is true that some critics argued that, and the Wiki article objectively includes some of those viewpoints in the deregulation section. That does not make them true, and those viewpoints are probably not true. It is interesting that you chose a Wikipedia article, b/c Wikipedia is not regulated by the government. It is a ‘free market’ of information that is regulated by private individuals.

Beware of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Just because a financial crisis happened after the repeal of GS that does not mean that the repeal of GS caused it. It could have just as easily have been caused by the release of the iPhone under that logic. The reality is that gov’t created the credit bubble through market manipulation to encourage more people to own homes. Their intentions were noble, but ultimately created more harm than good. When profits are privatized but risks were socialized through GSEs and government policy, the bust was inevitable.

Tom said...

This is a case where over regulating will be much worse than under regulating. Further, all the Villages are unique. While they agree that the zoning needs to be changed, most see ZRA 102 as a good first step.

Just look at how OM faced their problems, got help from Horizon, Columbia Foundation and CA while WL continues to hide it's collective head in the past which the more detailed (limiting) regulation WL is pushing would continue to enable.
Therin lies the problem. Phil, Cindy & Alex back WL's postion and know the rest of the CA community does not. So what do you do? Delay, delay, delay.

Good Luck County Council!

Anonymous said...

I thought the post was about the speed at which the process is moving. It’s fine to debate the merits of the bill or even the difficulties of regulation on the national and international stage. However, in looking at this piece of legislation, to say that a concept that has been in the public eye for a year and has had several meetings and will have more scheduled as needed is being rushed is not honest.

Anonymous said...

My point about GS and derivatives is that investment banking and retail were separated for good reasons and bad history. In addition to the below, an inordinate number of IPOs go bust just after retail distribution.

"Banks are originating loans thereby expecting to participate in the profits from those loans. However, they are passing those loans to agencies like Fannie and Freddie who then securitizes those loans into mortgage backed derivative securities (being sold on unregulated market due to the passage of another law favoring deregulation - the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000). These derivatives are being marketed by the brokerage houses owned by the same bank that originated the loan. This creates a vested self-interest on the part of Wall Street to hype the value of real estate. At one level the entire thing becomes a giant ponzi-scheme enabled by the moral hazard of housing brokerage, investment and banking under common ownership."

Anonymous said...

Actually, it was a vast self interest among everyone, caused by the government granting to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, and the FHLBs the ability to borrow at below market rates, consequently pushing down mortgage rates, driving up the percentage of personal income that could be applied to principal, causing values to continue going up until the global imbalances became unsustainable, which was going to happen sooner or later.

Blaming the repeal of Glass Stegal is clearly an error, since integrated financial services firms have faired far better in the crisis than single-ling financial services firms, and financial services firms around the world, regardless of regulatory structure under which they operate, have been affected.

Care to share any more crackpot theories with us?

Anonymous said...

Care to share stats backing up your financial firm theories?

Anonymous said...

Maybe read up before arrogantly dismissing what more studied experts say, genius 10:37 anon:

Anonymous said...

Find me an example of an American integrated financial services firm that failed. There simply hasn't been one.

Anonymous said...

Anon, you made the claim and now are asking others to back it up. And you call others 'crackpot'.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:58,

Listen, if you are going to play Internet Tough Guy, that's fine. But here is a tip. You don't cite Newsweek as an authoritative source. That article is an example of why. All the data he gives to support his argument actually supports mine and demolishes his.

Now, I don't know if the author is trying to pull the wool over his readers eyes or if he is actually that dumb, but I have now figured out the answer for you.