Archive for Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Competitive spirit

April 12, 2006


To the editor:

Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commissioner John Haase has proposed new regulations that will give city commissioners broad authority to reject or encourage particular new businesses in Lawrence. With existing authority, our City Commission has been successful in maintaining a vibrant downtown. New businesses succeed or fail because of their ability or inability to provide a product of value. The decision to compete in the highly competitive retail market is best left to those people who will be risking their own capital in the competition.

Haase's notion that the desirability of a new business can be determined by comparing Lawrence's per capita spending in each retail category with national benchmarks requires scrutiny. Should Wheatfields have been rejected because Lawrence's per capita consumption of bread was above the national average? Is it our goal to consume all products at the national average? Do we wish to protect all existing businesses from competition from new ideas or greater efficiency?

Haase assures us that city commissioners always would have the ability to approve a project, especially if there was evidence that a particular sector of the retail market wasn't meeting the needs of the community. It is not easy to know what businesses will succeed, and the simple rules of thumb proposed by Haase will not work. We trust city commissioners to decide whether a proposed new business meets general planning regulations. Let us trust Lawrence consumers to decide whether the business meets the needs of the community.

Joe Sicilian,



Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Why do economic impact studies?

A. Will a new business generate NEW TAX revenue or will it put an existing business out of business producing NO NET GAIN?

B. Will a new business create a strain on social services due to low wage and no employee medical coverage?

C. If a new business threatens several healthy tax revenue generating retail operations and appears that the new business will NOT GENERATE equal or preferably more tax revenue is it best to deny a new business?

D. Will current taxpayers want to make up any LOSS OF TAX REVENUE created by new business or new housing?

E. Is it worth JOB LOSSES thus less spending that a potential new business likely would create?

F. Will a new business create NEW HIGH PAYING JOBS and SUBSTANTIAL NEW REVENUE with NO IMPACT ON SOCIAL SERVICES? The ideal scenario.

Will additional new housing projects INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES?


Jamesaust 12 years ago

"...regulations that will give city commissioners broad authority to reject or encourage particular new businesses in Lawrence."

Unqualified, this is a false statement.

This letter carefully avoids mentioning a key prerequisite: the policy only addresses retail operations in excess of 50,000 square feet.

Such large businesses pose special problems for the city if they fail and the City thereby has a higher duty to review applications with care.

REAL small businesses do not need to justify their potential: (a) they are of minor consequence in the city-wide retail scene, and (b) if they fail their small spaces are easily converted for use by others.

peter brady 12 years ago

It's not just the taxes. How 'bout the profits spent by a local owner in his/her community? With Spangle's it would seem improbable that Bucky's can survive. Would this be seen as a legitimate cause for consideration? Of course not. Restaurant chains recognize a community's legitimacy. Whereas Dillard's is seen as a threat. Oh the irony. Again, it's too bad for the guy who owns Bucky's.

Horatio Bfor 12 years ago

It would now seem that competition is bad for Lawrence.....Sounds like someone in the city government wants a lawsuit

Ah yes....capitalism is bad......long live the progressives.

monkeyhawk 12 years ago

It is easy enough to look at the poll results regarding this subject. Simply put, the huge majority say no. But, then again, when has that ever stopped our guardians?

Ragingbear 12 years ago

Since the city comission, and our new(I would say elected, but I don't remember voting for him) mayor are mostly downtown businessmen, isn't this a conflict of interest? They can squash competition, and keep other competitors from coming in. Am I the only one that can see the Amyx barber franchise spreading all over town when we chase all the other barbers out? Be prepared for men's haircuts starting at 30$ a pop.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Ragingbear, This is not about squashing competition. It's more about using Economic Impact Statements/Studies to protect taxpayers. Our personal property tax fiasco should drive support for such a tool.

Jere McElheney,Bob Johnson,Sue Hack,Mike Amyx and the Chamber of Commerce are primarily involved in local real estate, developement and banking and are the most powerful supporters of a trafficway. No doubt many invested in property along the alledged trafficway route thinking it was a done deal. Otherwise why would they care?

However Louie McElheney and apparently Bob Johnson have expressed a desire for a SOR route over and above the trafficway. Louie McElheney spoke of this in a public meeting at the court house in which I was present.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Regarding the poll. What poor and leading statements.

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