“Son Of A Bitch Is Dug In Like an Alabama Tick”
I want that phrase to be used to describe what the ECA does to represent membership interests. I want every local elected official to know that we are going to be there to speak out, write about, and generally disrupt their attempts at social engineering at our expense. I want to not be adversarial, but very clear and focused when City Councils have a discussion about how they might add more fees to a business or a project in order to pay for their bloated budgets and lack of efficiencies in performing essential government services. Trust me on this one-they do not get it! I do believe the average “worker bee” for these local agencies get it, but the Council members do not get it yet. I want to help them understand the relationship between business firms operating in a healthy community and how that is needed by the community and the elected officials as a baseline to providing essential services to the public.
Despite huge obstacles, we continue to fight the fight against local government that does not understand the connection between development and growth, and a healthy community.
Every day one can open the newspaper and read about some new proposed regulation or fee being considered for homeowners, landowners, businesses, or construction firms in order to pay for some real or perceived public benefit program. What we do is link up with other organizations and try to bring reality into the discussions about concepts like “affordable housing”, public infrastructure investment, and the impact of the combination of crappy service/high fees/long waits for getting encroachment and building permits so we can put people to work!
Recently, several issues have come to the “front lines”. Infrastructure spending by local governments is number one on my agenda. We tried to help the County of Sonoma and all nine of its cities by passing Measure A which would have pumped an additional $8.7 million per year into rehabbing our roads and streets in Sonoma County. The voters defeated the Measure, but not because the voters did not want to see roads and bridges repaired-they voted down Measure A because they felt the County and the Cities have enough money to do the job if they simply applied the dollars they have more efficiently and at a higher priority than in the past. This message needs to get out to the elected officials. Marin County combined with Sonoma County spend approximately $1 Billion per year on health and human services plus public safety. Would you think they can decrease that spending by 1% and use that 1% for fixing our roads and bridges for a 20 year period? If so, that would produce approximately $200,000,000 in additional funding for our transportation needs in the two counties. Help us work towards that goal!
Another issue is fees imposed on housing and commercial projects. If you have recently remodeled or built an addition to your home or business, you have felt the pain of confusing and inefficient permitting process and the high cost of compliance. It is high time those costs went down and the service level went up. The ECA is partnered with several organizations to see that this is addressed locally. If we are successful, those savings in efficiencies and fee costs will translate into lower costs for your workers (and yourself) to live here, and you (and they) will not have to drive further because of a lack of worker housing stock. I am working closely with the County of Sonoma and the City of Santa Rosa to keep fees low. There will be a workshop “Study Session” that will be held at Santa Rosa City Council chambers on August 18, 2015 from 2:00 until about 5:30 pm. Existing fees will be discussed as will infrastructure needs and the link between the two will be thoroughly considered. You are invited and I will remind you again in next week’s newsletter about this important meeting. If you cannot come and want me to share your views or opinions on the subject, I will be there for you!
Although I will be nice, diplomatic, and cordial-my goal is that each City and County that your firm does business in will understand the ECA and its membership is firm on the principals that we need less regulations that increase fees on our businesses, and more efficiencies from the agencies spending our tax monies. I want them to consider the ECA to be like a “Son Of A Bitch Is Dug In Like An Alabama Tick” when it comes time for them to consider spending dollars on infrastructure or inefficient policies.
That’s All Folks!