Archive for Tuesday, September 4, 2007

City slowdown

Lawrence’s population growth lagging behind most other Big 12 communities

September 4, 2007

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We're not James Dean. We're not too sexy for our shirt. We're not the cat's meow.

There are lots of ways to say it, but as city leaders ponder another set of numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau showing that Lawrence isn't growing nearly as fast as it used to, City Manager David Corliss has his own way of saying it.

"Lawrence does not have a monopoly on coolness," Corliss said. "That has been my little whisper to leaders. It is a great community. I'm ecstatic to be here, but we have to remember that we are in competition with the rest of the state, the rest of the world."

Some leaders are saying Lawrence may have forgotten that, which in turn has led to the city's slowdown in growth.

"I don't think it is fair to say we have lost our edge," Corliss said. "But I think we're recognizing that we're being challenged. Look at what is going on in western Wyandotte County. Look at what is going on in other communities."

Signs of slowdown

If you're so inclined, you also could look at all types of statistics. The most prominent are the population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. In late June, the Census Bureau released its latest estimates, showing that from July 2005 to July 2006 the city's population had not grown a bit. Technically, the bureau estimated a decline of 0.06 percent - or a loss of 59 people - but many concede the Census' estimates aren't accurate to that degree.

The numbers, though, are significantly lower than the city's historical growth rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent. The June estimate also marks the second year in a row that the Census Bureau has estimated no growth for Lawrence. City leaders successfully challenged the Census' estimate for 2005 by using building permit and utility data to show growth.

Corliss said he's not sure that the city will challenge the most recent estimates and that he's still waiting on a recommendation from a pair of staff members who are studying the issue. But Corliss said it may be "more valuable" to concentrate resources on creating "good, sound economic growth."

There are other statistics pointing to the idea that the Census Bureau may have it right. None is more striking than the city's building permit totals. Unlike the census numbers, these aren't estimates. City leaders know how many building permits have been issued. What they know is that there were a lot less issued in 2006 than at any other time in the last 10 years.

Builders in 2006 took out permits for 416 living units, which are single-family homes, duplexes and apartments. The previous low of 505, by the way, was in 2005 - the year the Census also estimated the city lost population but then relented after a challenge by the city.

The 2006 total of 416 living units is well below the 10-year average of 691 units. That's a decline of almost 40 percent. But the 2006 numbers look rosy compared to how 2007 is shaping up. Through July of this year, the city was on pace to build 255 living units for the year. That would be the lowest total in recent memory. The Journal-World checked building permit records since 1979 and did not find a year that builders constructed so few living units.

"I am concerned about it," Corliss said of the construction slowdown.

Other statistics that point to a slowdown include:

  • The growth rate of new gas service connections in the city in 2006 was lower than at any other time during the last 10 years, according to Aquila, the city's natural gas provider.
  • The growth rate for new water meters in the city also was slower than in past years. The number of meters grew by 1.9 percent, down from 3.7 percent in 2005, but was comparable to the 2 percent in 2003. Water meter totals, though, seem to vary significantly from year to year. For example, the growth rate hit a recent high of 4.9 percent in 1997, but dropped to 1.4 percent in 1998.
  • Westar Energy, the city's electricity provider, added fewer than 600 meters in 2006 for only the second time in the last 10 years. The 10-year average meter growth for Westar has been 699 meters per year. Westar added 540 in 2006. These numbers are for all of Douglas County. Numbers just for Lawrence weren't immediately available.

Stacking up

There's always the national economy to blame. Housing markets across the country have sputtered, and some leaders have suggested Lawrence's slowdown is just a sign of a larger national trend.

Such slowdowns, though, haven't been happening in all of Lawrence's peer communities. The Johnson County communities of Overland Park, Lenexa and Olathe all posted positive growth rates for 2006, according to the Census. Olathe posted a 3 percent rate, Lenexa 2.5 percent and Overland Park 1.2 percent. To the west, Topeka was on the positive side but closer to Lawrence at 0.3 percent. The statewide average was 0.5 percent in 2006.

When compared to the other communities in the Big 12 Conference, Lawrence also ranks near the bottom of the list. Lawrence was one of only two Big 12 cities that failed to post an increase in population in 2006. Stillwater, Okla. - home to Oklahoma State - was the other.

Four other communities, though, posted growth rates of less than 1 percent. They were: Ames, Iowa; Waco, Texas; Lincoln, Neb.; and Boulder, Colo.

It should be noted, however, that Lawrence's five-year population growth rate of 8.3 percent ranked it fifth out of the 12 cities. But much of that growth rate was dependent upon the city's challenge of the 2005 population estimates. If that challenge had not gone Lawrence's way, the city would rank near the bottom of the list on the five-year average, too. Boulder had the lowest five-year growth rate, posting a 3.2 percent population decline.

So, who tops the Big 12 list? Columbia - home to the University of Missouri - topped the one-year growth list. Stillwater, Okla., topped the five-year list, followed closely by Manhattan, home to Kansas State.

"Wow, that's kind of frustrating, isn't it?" said Jason Edmonds, chairman of the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board.

Viewpoints

The growth issue is on the minds of both business and neighborhood leaders. Edmonds, who also is a financial planner in Lawrence, said he thinks a lack of jobs is primarily driving the slowdown in population growth.

"People want to live close to their jobs," Edmonds said. "You have the gas prices affecting that, and people just value their time. Lives are busy, and no one goes out looking for a commute."

That's a problem for Lawrence, Edmonds said, because the community hasn't been creating new jobs in large quantities. In fact, the Kansas Department of Labor estimates that the average number of jobs in Douglas County has decreased from 51,900 in 2002 to 51,000 in 2006. That's a decline of 1.7 percent, while the Kansas City metro area saw an increase of 4.3 percent.

Gwen Klingenberg, president of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, believes job creation is part of the problem. Housing prices, though, play a role, too.

"From a housing market standpoint, we're not welcoming the people who already work here," Klingenberg said. "The houses we're building today do not fit the income levels that we have.

"I think there needs to be some education about who is actually going to live in Lawrence, and what they can afford."

Corliss, the city manager, said he thinks Lawrence is taking the steps it needs to promote future growth. He said the city is doing major expansions of both the water and sewer systems that amount to "laying the foundation" for growth.

He also said the city and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce will begin working in September on a strengths, weaknesses and opportunities study to determine how economic development efforts can improve.

"I still hear lots of people say they wish they could live here," Corliss said. "I don't think they are talking about our past glory days. I think they're still talking about what we have today.

"But I think we also know we can't become complacent. We can't afford that."

Comments

David Mora Marín 10 years, 4 months ago

We moved from Lawrence to Chapel Hill and if you want to see what happens to a nice college town allowed to grow and grow - come here. The town grows into neighboring towns so you cannot when you've left. Everything is torn down in order to build more. It's more expensive than Lawrence ever dreamed of and traffic is miserable. I would hate to see Lawrence continue to grow if this is its future.

lunacydetector 10 years, 4 months ago

the problem with lawrence is.....a lot of people in power want lawrence to remain like it was when they first moved here 10, 15, or 20 years ago. lawrence is the most restrictive city in the midwest when it comes to business. why is this? too many people with influence who are connected to the university or work for the government don't have a grasp of the real world.

lawrence is slowing down? this was expected after the progressives took power and set our city back. high taxes, high housing prices, an anti-business attitude. should anyone be surprised?

lawrence is an island of tax and spenders surrounded by a sea of common sense.

lawrence is also the laughingstock of the state. what was the first major action of our recently elected city commissioners? talk about priorities.

i wish lawrence would go back to the way it was in the 1990's, when growth was considered a good thing because GROWTH PAYS.

stopping growth is killing our city but does anyone listen or care anymore? no growth=no life. the city is dying. the progressive policies need to be reversed. too bad they spent so many million$ on round-a-bouts, bicycle paths for 1/2 of 1% of our population, and a boondoggle bus system.

i stay because i still have a tiny bit of hope that common sense will prevail, eventually.

Linda Hanney 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence has a traffic management problem.

denak 10 years, 4 months ago

It is too expensive to buy a house here. Why try to buy a house here when you can live in one of the neighboring towns, buy a house for much less money, and just commute here to work.

Also, just for the record, we are not in competition with the world. That kind of exaggeration just makes Corliss sound ridiculous.

ralphralph 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't see this as bad news, really, and I'm not an anti-growth nut (really). What made Lawrence "cool" was not the layers of generic subdivisions with layers of strip malls that have been added onto the south and west sides. Those parts of town are indistinguishable from SW Topeka, western Jo Co, or any other suburban sprawl area anywhere. Why move to Lawrence vs any place else, if you're going to live in the same house, down the street from the same stores and restaurants, etc., etc. ?
I wouldn't worry about lagging in growth, but in keeping up the core, and managing the growth. How many WalMarts are enough?

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 4 months ago

Yeah... I'm trying to get my mind wrapped around the idea of slower growth being a bad thing... and I just can't quite make it...

moveforward 10 years, 4 months ago

But I soooo want a poorly built and overpriced 4000 sq ft T-111 palace, just like all my neighbors!

bluerose 10 years, 4 months ago

maybe it is because the image pictured with this article is no longer the american dream?

it was not an image like that, in conjunction with a brand new wal-mart and big smooth streets, farmland converted to industry, that lured me here nine years ago, that is certain.

bulldawgs 10 years, 4 months ago

Most striking from the cookie cutter subdivision in the picture was trees...not a single tree visible...

SayWhat 10 years, 4 months ago

... and the population of Lawrence is...?

Darth_Vader 10 years, 4 months ago

That picture reminds me of a song.

Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds

Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of tickytacky Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all went to the university Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same, And there's doctors and there's lawyers, and business executives And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry, And they all have pretty children and the children go to school And the children go to summer camp and then to the university Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

Write2Know 10 years, 4 months ago

I think the City of Lawrence owes the Census people an apology for contesting the 2005 data.

cowboy 10 years, 4 months ago

Seems to me that the anti growth message has been heard loud and clear , yeah the newer housing is pretty ugly as are the duplex ghettos that were built over the past fifteen years. The problem I think is that in the broad stroke we have also run off the growth in businesses and jobs. If you listen to most of the posters and take walmart , the hot button , out of the equation , most people want new businesses , and everyone wants better jobs , few want more sprawl and huge infrastructure cost. The construction business has made the adjustment , those jobs are gone for quite some time now.

IMHO the city needs to focus on long term goals and stop the " project of the week" approach they seem to have. In every business I have worked for there was a sound 3 year plan and a projected 5-10 year plan that encompassed all aspects of the business including major capital outlays. After the plan was approved / updated each year then staff went on to the task of making it happen on a daily basis. we never seem to get out of the brainstorming mode and are constantly chasing the latest spending project that we cannot afford. When does no mean no here.

The current spending spree over the past 3 years , when everyone knew that growth had slowed and revenues weren't meeting projections can only be labeled as incompetent. The city staff and commission have grossly failed to make the necessary adjustments to their spending and now we are being fed a tax increase while still the powers that be have major new spending items on the agenda each week.

the commission needs to learn how to say NO , how to postpone expenditures , how to fess up to the fact that there is a problem with the financial planning and focus the community on some common goals.

toefungus 10 years, 4 months ago

I think our powerful neighbor to the east is the reason. Most housing development has been on the west side, but most of the jobs have been in Johnson County. The solution is to move to the East side, But, housing is poorly built, next to industrial centers, and expensive. Solution. Move to Desoto, Eudora, Olathe, Bonner Springs... Fuel prices makes the decision to move closer to Johnson County even smarter. Unless Lawrence can land better paying and MORE jobs, growth will continue to be very limited.

werekoala 10 years, 4 months ago

KU is a great core business for the community. But like it or not, our residential sector is overbuilt, and there are currently not enough good-paying jobs to support all the residential areas that have been developed. Add to that the lack of increase in business tax revenues, and you end up with a bunch of cut-rate residential areas that don't pay for themselves and are a net drain on the city budget.

What's worse, when the fall-out from the housing market really begins to hit home in the next year or so, you'll see a lot of foreclosed properties that no one is living in. People will move out, and move closer to work in Topeka or KC, and Lawrence will be left holding the bag. If you think West Lawrence is ugly now, wait until every other house has a for-sale sign in front of it, and no one is buying.

So, bad as the consequences of ill-considered expansion has been, I think our only real option is to push on through to the other side. If we can develop enough commercial properties, if we can attract enough new or relocated businesses, and if we can offer them a welcoming environment, we might just be able to offer enough local employment to check the ill effects of our current developments.

But this is going to take buy-in from the whole community. We can't have rogue developers cramming hundreds of teensy duplexes on a single acre, and we can't have a complicit planning department. We also can't have a bunch of anti-growth hippies and codgers who want Lawrence to shrink--that won't happen without a hell of a lot of pain to the average guy.

What kills me is that we have a golden goose here with KU -- plenty of smart people there, often in transitional periods -- why not aggressively court current and newly retired folks from academia to establish businesses with their advanced training and skills -- call it Scholars to Dollars or something like that -- offer seminars and workshops to teach them to become business owners.

The point is -- we have a lot of challenges, but pretending that they don't exist, or that we can't solve them is silly. There is plenty of opportunity for Lawrence to become a model 21st-century city; we just have to make the effort.

c_dubya 10 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bud Stagg 10 years, 4 months ago

Slow growth or no growth = higher taxes. We have a badly structured tax base as a bedroom community. We need jobs and employers in this town. It's either this or as our homes begin to depriciate, our tax base erodes. I know our home values have appreciated but I think that will turn.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

werekoala, KU is not a business. It is the opposite of a business. KU itself does nothing to contribute to the tax base; it merely recycles the taxes it receives from the state; some of them end up in the Lawrence economy; not all do.

News_to_me 10 years, 4 months ago

It seems to me that Lawrence is suffering from the same problems that we as people suffer from-lack of control and will power. Unchecked growth is not a solution to our problems. It IS the problem. I cannot think of a situation where unchecked growth is ever a good thing. It results in cancer and obesity. It attempts to substitute material things for more important values.

I, for one, have no problem with a slowdown in our city. We have overextended ourselves and it is time to regroup and refocus our efforts on what made our city so unique. It's kind of like buying more house than you can afford. Not only do you have to pay for the house, but you have to furnish it and clean it. It seems awfully silly to keep building and expanding when people apparently can't afford to live here or want to live closer to their jobs. It's time to get our act together and refurbish and revitalize Lawrence. More uncontrolled growth will not accomplish that.

Michael Capra 10 years, 4 months ago

welcome to lawrence kansas the answer is no and how can we make it harder to do biz with you.its a big joke and planning deptment are to blame with there attude that they are gods and you know nothing and the new director is no help there is no coman sence anymore just how can we shut you down.Mr corlis take your leagal hat off and put your city hat on and welcome biz at any cost

doc1 10 years, 4 months ago

Just wandering why the city is in such a budget crunch. Can anyone tell me how they got along without the extra tax income before Home Depot, Best Buy etc? Seems they have the biggest tax base as ever and they are short. How is that? And how did they get along before? Can anyone enlighten me?

tolawdjk 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence couldn't land a business if it had wings and fell out of the sky.

People leave Lawrence because they can't find a career in Lawrence. Oh sure, Lawrence has some "jobs". WalMart is a "job". Best Buy is a "job". Hell, working downtown in one of the quaint little shops that prides itself on charging you twice as much as what WalMart sells its crap, only because itsn imported from Europe instead of China is a "job". None of them are careers though. You aren't going to work 25+ years as "customer goods/currency exchange" operator and end up with anything you can retire on. Being the nighttime stock boy of HyVee isn't going to get you a fat 401K.

Yeah, sure, KU recycles taxdollars. And those tax dollars come out of our pocket. They also come out of the pockets of people in Goodland, Dodge City, Topeka, and Wichita. Where exactly would Lawrence be if it wasn't for that recycling. What would your propety taxes look like?

Lawrence has two options for raising funds...sales tax or property tax. There is no industrial base to supply any tax money. There is no business base to supply any tax money. There is no tech base to supply any tax money. Lawrence needs to worry less about stealing retail dollars from JoCO and Topeka and the surrounding area and more about bringing real revenue generating sources.

Bubbles 10 years, 4 months ago

Diversity is this citys strength. We need more murals of black artists. More housing for the poor. More flop houses for drifters. Make lawrence a sancturary city for illegal aliens. The more of them the better off the city will be.

Most of all keep businesses out. Grow corn by the airport not concrete. Leave 6th and wack as fallow ground. Shut down Hallmark because of their corporate greed.

Have more parades with funny painted cars and kids pulling wagons with zaney art work.

We need to implement Dadaism at all city meetings.

Baille 10 years, 4 months ago

As our community "leaders" work to make Lawrence into Olathe West, people who want that sort of thing simply move to Olathe. Housing - fast and crappy? Check. An overabundance of strip malls to suck out the souls of the populace? Check. A dead downtown inhabited only by government buildings and boarded up retail from decades gone by? Check. Close proximity to KC? Check. Why drive K-10 when suburban hell is so close?

Lawrence needs to re-dedicate itself to the proposition of being Lawrence. Horizon 2020 needs to be completely reworked and beefed up with some enforcement mechanisms; however, if we do that now with our current crop of pro-cancerous growth developers, we will just codify our drive to become Olathe. Our city center is dying - not just downtown but the whole area around KU and into East Lawrence that used to be single family residential with neighborhood services nearby. We have abandoned what makes Lawrence special for fringe growth and a generic community.

Bubbles 10 years, 4 months ago

dukie, bunny, poot, wee bey, cheese and bodie, bubbles, proposition joe, bunk.

Best show going.

sourpuss 10 years, 4 months ago

It isn't just that Lawrence doesn't have enough good jobs - the good jobs it has don't pay as well as the same job pretty much anywhere else. Lawrence's wages are really depressed. If you don't believe me, go look up what you'd make for your same job at another university or mid-sized town, or even a small city like Kansas City or Oklahoma City. So bad wages coupled with bad retail service (thank you KU students), high home prices, crumbling infastructure, high taxes, TWO craptascular movie theatres (one for Hollywood, one for Bollywood), and a contentious population are what drive and keep people away. I really like Lawrence, but I couldn't afford to work there and buy a home, so I probably will not stay there when I finish school, even though my family has been in Lawrence, off and on, since 1930. I just couldn't sacrifice my wage and my retirement for it.

chchcherrybomb 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence needs less learnin' and more earnin' Get some industry in here, pronto. If they have to doze some of the poorly built cookie cutter neighborhoods for their site, all the better. Thoses places would be hovels in another 20 years anyway.

Fred Sherman 10 years, 4 months ago

The average size of a family and average number of people living in a housing unit is declining, but this rate of decline is greater in Lawrence than other parts of the region.

Most of the new housing units built in Lawrence the past few years are not single-family owner-occupied housing units.

The population estimate used by the City of Lawrence to challenge the U.S. Census estimate is based on average household size not average household size by unit type. While city staff did note and examine the declining rate of persons per household in the analysis, they only factored this issue on new housing units - and not all housing units (existing and new) - see table 3 of 8/7/06 Planning Staff memo. http://www.lawrenceks.org/web_based_agendas_2006/08-29-06/08-29-06h/pl_population_estimate_city_methods_memo.html

Lawrence is likely growing - but only slightly if at all - as the once core "nuclear family" component of a community is choosing to not live in Lawrence due to higher housing costs and lack of job growth. Families with children, be it a "nuclear family" or non-traditional family with children, are leaving town and vacating existing housing units, and are predominantly being replaced by households without kids. The city's population estimate does not adquately factor this issue into its formula. How else can one explain the continued decline of enrollment at USD 497 not factoring the virtual school enrollment, even with new housing units being built each year?

We will know the true answer after the 2010 U.S. Census count:.

U.S. Census Data: Persons per occupied housing unit United States 1990 - 2.63 2000 - 2.59

Kansas 1990 - 2.53 2000 - 2.51

Johnson Co, KS 1990 - 2.58 2000 - 2.56

Lawrence, KS 1990 - 2.35 2000 - 2.30

Persons per occupied housing unit - Lawrence, KS Owner occupied 1990 - 2.64
2000 - 2.57

Renter occupied 1990 - 2.10
2000 - 2.07

Confrontation 10 years, 4 months ago

KU is the only draw to get people to Lawrence. A ton of money is spent in Lawrence during every basketball and football game. There is nothing else that brings people to town. Mass Street is a waste of a drive.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

This news came out weeks ago. Why bring it up again now? Because this is just the beginning of the propaganda effort that will be waged by the city and the Journal World to justify the building of that great economic stimulator, the new, improved library and downtown redevelopment funded by the already over burdened taxpayers.

avoice 10 years, 4 months ago

Rotten economy aside, there are still a lot of builders who want to build something. That is their bread and butter, unless they decide to go for a complete career change. One of the biggest problems with construction in Lawrence is that the field has become so restrictive that no one wants to wade through the red tape to obtain the esteemed privilege of being allowed to do construction work in Lawrence. It's fine if the city wants to require contractors to take tests and get certified. But the city should then administer it's own process and make it available in Lawrence. Having to go through a national indpendent testing firm that offers tests only at certain times and in towns no closer than Manhattan, KS or Independence, MO, does not make for an appropriate certification process. The outside agency hired by the city to provide this service charges an arm and a leg and is difficult to contact or deal with. The parameters of the testing encompass a library of tomes that few contractors are going to schlep with them to the testing site. I'm sure a number of contractors simply choose to work with municipalities that welcome quality contractors and make the licensing process simple, easy to access, and affordable.

Centrist 10 years, 4 months ago

Why is "growth" so bloody important?

It just means more sprawl, more concrete, more Walmarts, more "big box" housing, more animals and habitat destroyed.

I guess when we figure out how to live on Mars, we'll completely f___ that planet, too.

(And no, I'm not a greenie).

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

The article and most of these comments reveal a complete disconnect between the issues of global climate change, energy and water shortages, pollution, species decline and extinctions, and economic growth. Until citizens and their governing leaders recognize these life-and-death relationships, we will continue on this futile path to pyrrhic victory. We'll have economic growth until we have social, economic, and ecological collapse.

Many scholars believe we are nearing the point past which all spirals down; some think we've past it and point to evidence such as failing businesses, rising interest rates, wages that do not keep up with inflation, unemployment, and stock market volatility on the domestic side, and imperial wars between nations. If our species survives this deliberate blindness, historians will look back at this time and wonder at the human capacity for self-deception.

To survive, we will need a paradigm shift, one that pursues local and regional integration, self-sufficiency, and sustainable use of renewable resources. Such a path would aim toward social and economic stability, and meeting basic requirements equitably and in ways that protect the quality of life of all species, including humans, and the ecosystems on which we all depend.

It would not pursue economic growth as an end in itself in the hopes that faith-based development would do more than line the pockets of those committed to it. We should oppose all economic growth that isn't warranted by its contribution to the healthy future of the community, the society, and the environment. That warrant should be demonstrable, not invented to justify the schemes of the small minority who profit from economic growth. A construction slowdown? Slowdown in the rate of population growth? Let us hope... but let us work and plan a way out of this mess before it is too late.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

jade, I assume you would be one of the chosen few who would determine what is a good business and what is a bad one?

tolawdjk 10 years, 4 months ago

Avoice,

I would argue that there are pleanty of builders right now that should do just that...look for a career change. Wanting to build something doesn't automatically mean that something needs to be built.

The same builder that is going to harp about having to drive to Manhatten or Independence to take a licensing test is the same family of builder that is going to cut corners and build a crappy house that will require 20,000+ in maintenance in 7 years.

Professionals have to get licensed. Period. The principal applies to doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers. Why should contractors be treated any differently. So what if the firm is hard to cantact and deal with. So are contractors that don't want to build a house to your specifications when they can do it the way they want to save a buck.

In fact, I would say it is one of the few smart things that the city has done. Maybe it will prevent the crackerjack crap that is out there right now that falls apart and gets people killed.

smot 10 years, 4 months ago

I have read through these comments and there are many that make little sense, I have no idea what points that they are trying to make.

Growth is not necessarily the all out evil that many have written about here. Lawrence' s government and a vocal part of its' population are well known to be anti-business and this reputation will not die easily. Why should businesses put up with legal, community and governmental hurdles when there are many cities much more welcoming. We have turned away many viable industries due to the perception that their pay is not adequate for our community. We cannot attract high paying jobs without having a larger industrial base to surround them.

There are many people who choose to live in Lawrence rather than KC or Topeka where they are currently employed. Many of these people would love to have similar jobs in our city but the legal and governmental hurdles are too high to welcome these employers.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence was the monopoly on cool till the imports arrived.Unfortunatly "cool" can't be bought and sold.Go back home.Nothing more for you here. But since you are here do me a favor and stay out west,incorporate and rename it Joco or something catchy like that. Peace.

davidnta 10 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

Laying new water lines in North Lawrence may be planning ahead but for what? North Lawrence residents could use a boost in pressure. Lawrence does not need more bedrooms? High dollar land is not an attraction to light industrial. So we seem to be heading down the same path that gave birth to our current problem with the same group of people that put us here in the first place. High tax/high cost of living bedroom communities is not at the top of any list as an attraction for excellent paying jobs. Most high dollar income families don't like to pay taxes so why would a high income company locate here? I don't believe indoor soccer centers are a huge draw whereas high quality Public Libraries are among items considered important

Just because the real estate industry executives made a ton of money building homes,even on some crummy construction, does not mean they know anything about growing a city that pays back instead of increasing taxes. Simply because a group makes themselves wealthy is no indication they can financially plan for a community. Essentially those thinkers brought us a high dollar/high tax bedroom community without a substantial base to support a community. Now they have strong majorities on the city,county and city-county planning commissions. What was the point in bringing back this type of thinking to Lawrence government?

The education industry is what made Lawrence yet no talk about expanding in that area? Why not? Good public education is an attraction to business and always has been probably at number 1 or two on the list. USD 497 used to rate high but not so sure any longer. Blue Valley district is up there in JOCO. Johnson County Community College is well respected. Educated workforce is always among the top of the list. JOCO passed a quarter cent sales tax to support its' public education system after the state legislature began screwing around and that's where the good jobs are located. Lawrence could use job growth not bedroom growth. Light industrial generates taxes for communities bedrooms do just the opposite. Light industrial includes white/blue/green collars. "Green Collar industry" is a booming new area of which little discussion is taking place....establishing alternative energy is among that industry which will require skilled technicians.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

Of course I'd be one who decides, one among all citizens whose future is presently determined by a handful of self-serving developers.

Aren't we tired yet of this absurd argument that Lawrence is antibusiness? Of course that's a very handy way to frame the debate if pushing unwarranted development and unnecessary job creation is your bread and butter. When businesses are hostile and anti-community, e.g. polluters, or companies that pay poverty wages, ones that let taxpayers pay their employees' healthcare, or companies that take tax abatements and then violate the agreement, who in their right minds would want them? I am in favor of the businesses we already have, or some of them anyway. We will need some we don't have if the economy collapses.

Instead of being for or against business, we have to be pro-Lawrence and pro-Lawrence families, many of whom own or work in family-owned businesses. We need to be a discriminating citizenry, recognizing what's needed and what's not. The economy has to be made to serve the workers and their families who constitute it, not the tiny elite who own the lion's share of its resources and opportunities, and who can buy themselves a city government.

It is a silly lie that the self-regulated economy serves the best interests of everyone and that capitalism begets democracy. If you think I'm wrong, find out what Pinochet's neoliberal capitalism did for Chilean workers, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and the political system. Don't trip over the mass graves while you're looking. The capitalist economy is designed to serve those who have money and power already, and the rest of us are to play our roles as workers, forking over the profit our labor generates, and receiving wages that too often does not allow us to adequately feed and house our children. We are to be grateful for the privilege of subordinating our minds and bodies to the goals of those who dominate the global and local economies. We are to share in the fantasy that we, too, can enjoy a life of material security, if only we'll work harder. And if the water and air are contaminated, if cancer rates soar, if food is too expensive and laced with pesticides anyway, well, never mind. The self-regulating economy will fix it. Until then, our problems, we're told, are our own fault, because we demanded the world we got.

It is long past time we open our eyes to the naked emperor and decide to do something better and enduring. We could hardly do worse than to accelerate the pace of our own destruction. That's where unwarranted economic growth will take us.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

Jade I admire your practical yet candid thoughts...right on the money. There is no such thing as anti economic growth for all our our lives depend on it.

There is plenty of reason to be anti sprawl growth because it is not practical,creates a variety of pollution,takes too long to go anywhere,burns too much gasoline and is a costly endeavor for taxpayers.

There is something to said for maximizing our existing resources for new economic growth instead of bringing more and more competition for which a community cannot support... likely producing economic displacement that which no community can afford.

Once again I suggest to downtown business owners...change your hours to match the change in shopping habits. Too many potential shoppers work all day and would probably appreciate more than one evening to shop. I say make it Tuesday Wednesday,Thursday,Friday and Saturday then promote the plan. Make downtown the shopping and business mall. Face it if drivers are willing to drive to the outer city limits they will drive to downtown for the same reasons.

I say to the powers that be Lawrence residents needs more places to make money not spend it. Our sad sales tax dollar level speaks to that. Increasing commercial spaces does not magically create more spending dollars. Remember Lawrence is overloaded in retail not in ways to make money.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

Gasoline prices may well push Lawrence population growth numbers down a bit more. Face it buying gasoline is really not that much fun...at least not yet.

"Once again I suggest to downtown business owners:change your hours to match the change in shopping habits. Too many potential shoppers work all day and would probably appreciate more than one evening to shop. I say make it Tuesday Wednesday,Thursday,Friday and Saturday then promote the plan. Make downtown the shopping and business mall. Face it if drivers are willing to drive to the outer city limits they will drive to downtown for the same reasons."

Downtown is way more fun than any shopping center or strip mall. Food and beverage definitely is an attraction for downtown shopping.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the support, Merrill, but I gotta tellya, I think you've misunderstood me on a fundamental point. While it is true that, at this moment, we depend on economic growth, that is the problem we must solve. Economic growth is unsustainable and destructive of society, health, environment, and freedom. Yet we cannot simply flip the switch and do something else. Our challenge will be to change course as thoughtfully and painlessly as possible--it will be difficult and painful anyway--to redirect ourselves at stability, basic needs provisioning, equity, widespread civic participation, environmental health, and sustainable livelihoods. We can no more save the earth while using it up than we can make peace while waging war. Growth can never be the solution; it is the problem that will end us if we don't end it first.

Stephen Prue 10 years, 4 months ago

i don't know, no clear answer here. less growth smaller tax base, raise taxes folks leave, smaller tax base fewer services, but more growth means larger tax base, more people move in and more services required so we need more taxes so we raise taxes people get mad and leave. hmmmmm can we ever be content oh housing cost bad deal and as some have stated previously the housing down turn will last a good long time so if your waiting to buy i'd suggest wait a little longer we haven't reached bottom yet.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

jade, what you envision is utopia. To obtain it, people would have to be forced to cooperate and conform for the common good, especially during the difficult and painful transition. We have seen such difficult and painful transitions in the past; they resulted in the slaughter of millions of people.

Jackson 10 years, 4 months ago

Most housing under $250,000.00 in Single Family zoning is located central Lawrence, of which 45% is used for student rental.

Central Lawrence families live among over $4,000 students that think nothing of partying 24/7 - a perpetual problem that destroys the quality of family living.

Living in Eudora eliminates ALL of those problems, and provides quality family living and good schools.

Lawrence will NEVER provide quality family living (or schools) in the central city until student housing is restricted to MF zoning (multi family /apartment). Student housing & 'family-living' mix poorly.

An ordinance restricting the number of unrelated renters to 3 in SF zoning is not enforced,therefore is a "joke". Many rentals have 5, 6, or more. Who owns these rentals? Why, many of Lawrence's most "upstanding citizens" - NONE OF WHOM LIVE AMONG THESE ' RENTALS'.

Over $4,500,000.00 per month rental income to these folks insure the problem will continue until the Chamber of Commerce, businesses, and others with 'clout' recognize that it's in the best interest of ALL Lawrence citizens to make a drastic change.

The city commissioners are aware of this problem - and solution. Unfortunately, some are rental landlords, and also have landlord friends.

The decline in Lawrence population is direcly related to Rental housing, which inflates the value of houses, and deflates their value for family living. Families are simply 'voting with their feet' when moving away from Lawrence. Families are moving to better environment for their kids - for under $200,000!

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

More economic growth does not necessarily require covering up more green space to meet that accomplishment. Economic growth comes in many forms: http://leadershipforchange.org/awardees/awardee.php3?ID=303

With some discipline the different trains of thought could work for each other...

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

Godot wrote: "jade, what you envision is utopia. To obtain it, people would have to be forced to cooperate and conform for the common good, especially during the difficult and painful transition. We have seen such difficult and painful transitions in the past; they resulted in the slaughter of millions of people."

You're right. We should simply wait for massive die-offs to occur with famines and pandemics.

Oh, wait. Could there be another option? Could we not come together and talk? Could we do a little planning? I'm with Merrill on this one. We'll talk, negotiate, and grow with some of our solutions until we figure out how to stabilize. We'll need folks to repair broken and torn things; folks to process locally produced raw materials, including clothing and foods; folks to figure out and deliver clean, renewable energy that we can get right here; folks to help with rainwater harvesting; and so much more that we currently import from afar or require imported energy to access. We might have to learn to do without pink, plastic sorting trays from China, but we could probably learn to live without them. No doubt we're going to do some growing in some really important areas, and we're going to decline in unnecessary stuff. If we're smart and lucky, this is what will happen. If we go to the mat in defense of the status quo, something more painful will probably get us there anyway.

In any case, I see no reason to use fear mongering to silence the discussion. Change is scarey. Maybe the first change, a baby step, is admitting the problem of economic growth (11 steps to go), then learning how to talk and to trust each other. C'mon. Let's sit down together and figure out how to shift the paradigm.

Michael Capra 10 years, 4 months ago

lets take the town down and make you hippies in charge wait we did that and we are in a hell of a mess

cowboy 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe we should do a study on the level of adult retardation in Lawrence. Its seems rampant

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

I wondered where you were, Cowboy. The conversation wouldn't be complete without some rampant-growth fanatic spewing toxins into the air, and you're always my first choice.

cowboy 10 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Jade , if you read my previous posts I think you might see some differentiation between housing growth and business growth that benefits us all. The combination of Lawrence's personna , the economy , and the habitual mismanagement of the city have solved the growth problem. There is none. Gone , Nada , Zero. The city quit growing two years ago but the staff / commish have been in denial.

Now we all can swim in it with higher taxes , less amenities , and fewer choices each year on how to improve the community. And while your at it we can all donate to the 150 million dollars of debt the city has wracked up.

I'll agree with any of you that think the beige monster out west is ugly and will soon be a bargain hunters paradise but the attitude that all take towards new business seems self destructive. I very simply find it incompetent for any organization to spend more than it has and fail to make tough choices to rein it in when the facts are obvious .

Then in today's news the commish is planning a trail they have no money for. How frigging stupid is that ?

Bud Stagg 10 years, 4 months ago

Like a living thing, Our town is continuously growing and regenerating. However many people in this town don't want it to regenerate, they do not see the need to replace dying parts with new parts. This town has lost jobs, yet we do nothing to replace them. We don't need sprawl, but we do need to grow and attract business.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

BTW that trail has been on the table for a few years and just because the commission is bringing it up does not mean they intend to fund it. West Lawrence got all of the hike and bike trails.

Less population growth is a blessing in disguise = lower cost of city operation.

If residents are leaving to locate closer to employment that is sensible. If they are leaving because they discovered they bought a brand new fixer upper for $160,000 well that also makes sense knowing full well it could happen again.

If they are leaving because of a city commission that goes public proposing sales tax increases yet fails to offer important details such as exactly how will the money be spent... that too makes sense. How many people do any of us know that will trust politicians with tax dollars to be spent on expansion for who or what?

If there is one element Lawrence can live without it is more bedrooms/people. We've got too much retail space. Once again I was told Lawrence is on the edge of becoming a buyers market. And east Lawrence has been blatantly maybe intentionally neglected for about 20 years. Is this the kind of city management that attracts business? Is this the type of city management that makes people leave town? It is the city commissioners and planning commissioners that give the city manager direction.

Speaking of business the only kind Lawrence can afford are non polluting type so would it not best to encourage our " leaders" to go green thus connecting Lawrence with the wave of the future and the 21st century?

deskboy04 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe it's the smoking ban. People want to live somewhere that they can smoke in the restaurants!

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

Look at Manhattan; they know how to create economic growth: build a 49 million dollar research facility with government dollars and then let it sit empty while waiting for some entity to come along and figure out how to get a government grant to fund it.

Economic growth, Kansas style. More government, more government, more government.

Michael Capra 10 years, 4 months ago

shut lawrence down shut it down shut it down says barry walthaw let close it all down and stopall growth

Kookamooka 10 years, 4 months ago

So...in addition to not being business friendly, Lawrence has a reputation of not being very family friendly, either. If Lawrence wanted to do a better job of luring the big companies with jobs they'd focus on how to make Lawrence really great for kids and families. A new library would be a big draw. It tells companies that we are a community that values learning. A beautiful children's wing (like that in Topeka and KC) would reassure companies eyeing Lawrence, that we value and invest in our children. More imaginative parks, trails with water features, more kid friendly dining establishments... that's what Lawrence should build to attract business. Wyandotte County knew that. So...stop focusing so much on college students and baby boomers and start making this place even better for families. If we don't, they'll take their playground balls and go somewhere else.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

Looks like we need a poetry slam to accomodate the talent in this discussion.
meanwhile...

no clear answer here. less growth smaller tax base, raise taxes folks leave, smaller tax base fewer services, but more growth means larger tax base, more people move in and more services required so we need more taxes so we raise taxes...

Here's someone who sees with perfect clarity how our current system functions and why its continuation requires infinite economic growth. Yet he doesn't see a clear answer. Infinite economic growth is not possible on a finite planet, and evidence that we've exceeded the limits to growth has already made itself known. The answer must be that we've opted for a dead-end system that we should abandon.

The longer we argue the obvious instead of spending our energy and time figuring out how to produce sufficient food, energy, and water when the trucks don't come, dirty non-renewable fossil fuels become unaffordable, and surface water is either too contaminated or too scarce or both, the less likely we are to be left standing when the ring's around the rosie.

One more time: no amount of tweaking can make our dysfunctional system functional, nor sustainable. We need a paradigm shift, and we need all of us to work together to figure out how to get there.

adriennerm 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with some of the things Kookamooka said. This place is not family friendly. I relocated to Lawrence from Chicago. My father lives here as well as other relatives. I thought this would be a great environment for my daughter. However, there's nothing for us to do.

I wasn't expecting to have the same admenities as Chicago. however something would be nice. We've walked downtown more times than I care to count. We've gone to the movies. Then of course we ate. Lord oh Lord, there are plenty of restaurants here.

I like Lawrence, but families live here too. Everything is for the college kids.

I am tired of driving to Johnson county for everything. We go there to skate, bowl b/c the bowling alley here is taking over by college kids after 6p, shop, and a better movie theater.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 4 months ago

"Your old house has worse wiring, definitely worse insulation, cheaper windows, etc, which makes your house less green. "

All of the above can be changed which many have done. We've got lots of new windows,new insulation with additional when ceiling work was done,lots of new wiring , several new energy star light fixtures, low water toilets, high efficiency HVAC and water heater. Then new style roofing material which adds R value. Some other older homes in the area have retrofitted floor heat,solar energy and other fascinating improvements to be sure. More can always be done to improve.

There are a lot of crummy new homes being built, not all, but which is which? When bad workmanship,poorly installed insulation and the cheapest windows combined so who knows if all new homes are necessarily greener than old.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

"HOusing prices will not stabilize until there is enough housing. : and for those of you that are ignorant on the housing process, it's not just the developer that makes money: It's your neighbor the electrician, the plumber, the sheetrock guy, the guy at the lumberyard, the delivery truck driver, the painter, the roofer, etc, that make money when a house is built. Building is an industry: a local one that directly affects many"

Housing prices will never stabilize under our current system. Capitalism is not designed to produce stability; it produces profit and processes that facilitate accumulation of wealth. Housing prices will always be vulnerable to inflation, immigration, emigration, interest rates, new construction, old construction, new knowledge, newly enculcated desires, and a thousand other variables that all get collapsed into the concept of "demand." But that's not my point here.

The second part of this post is so much more important because it reveals one of our biggest challenges. This writer is right on; we will have to find a way to support our neighbors and friends whose jobs evaporate with unaffordable energy. And we'll have to find new ways to think about work and its rewards. When the Argentinian economy collapsed, barter systems for everything from haircuts to clothing to shoe repair arose. Neighbors renewed their acquaintances, put in community gardens, created communal kitchens and childcare, and organized in new ways to meet their basic requirements for survival. It turns out community is one of the basic requirements.

Builders and developers and the folks who work for them are part of this community. They are like the rest of us, just doing what we've been trained to do, believing what we've been told about how the world works, "watching" fictional lives on television instead of living meaningful real ones, emulating empty "lifestyles," and doing it all in the context of a political economy that's going to fail us.

The good news is that we are a creative and resilient species, so far anyway.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

April 2, 2007 In the Zone Jim Kunstler The fiasco in real estate and mortgage lending seems finally to be breaking through the reality shield of the mainstream media.... Meanwhile, ...the General Accounting Office came out with a report last week that acknowledges some problems ahead on the world energy scene -- oil in particular -- with possible adverse implications for the US. It's the first time that any responsible party in the executive branch has acknowledged the situation... Independent researchers ... -- including retired geologists for major oil companies -- have established a pretty firm consensus that we are already in the zone of the global oil production peak -- meaning that whether we are just past, passing now, or passing imminently, the effects are already thundering through the complex systems we depend on to maintain advanced industrial societies. For instance, the crashing of Mexico's Cantarell oil field (60 percent of Mexico's production) means that inside of five years the US will receive no more imports from what has been its third leading source. Being in the zone means that the world's oil exporters in the aggregate will see their exports drop seven to eight percent this year -- because nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and even Norway are using more of their own oil and have less to send out. [It] means that new pricing arrangements will be made, taking the power away from the spot futures markets in New York and London, and shifting that power to long-term deals made by nationalized producers like Russia and Iran, who may decide to embargo consuming nations who don't dance to their tune. [It] means that people in poorer nations will starve because so much of the corn grown in North America will go to ethanol distilleries ... The more interesting point in all this... is that the media has still not put together the collapse of the housing bubble and the permanent oil crisis. These events will be happening simultaneously. The housing industry... will never recover because the oil crisis spells the end of the suburban build out. ...The big production homebuilders will go down and never come back. We won't need any more retail, either. We won't be building anymore WalMarts and Target stores... The end of the suburban build-out will be a stupendous trauma for the United States because, unfortunately, we have made it the basis of our economy for a generation, as well as our living arrangement. Not only will incomes and livelihoods be lost ..., and never come back, but, as the global oil predicament deepens, the existing fabric of our vast suburbs will become increasingly useless and worthless. The people stuck in them will lose whatever wealth they have accumulated and our arrangements for daily life will become increasingly nightmarish. This is the part of the story that the mainstream media still can't put together. Peak oil and the housing bust are mutually-reinforcing...

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

And we've been smart enough to figure out, after several miserably failed attempts, that the social and economic model you want to follow won't work.

I have identified some of the problems and issues that will confront us, but I haven't proposed a model solution. It will take all of us imagining, innovating, and working together to find our way out of the deep hole we've dug for ourselves.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

Pilgrim asks: The alternative to capitalism is: ?

ah, if only it were that simple. That's the switch we cannot simply flip because we are so deeply dependent on the present arrangement. The future lives only in the realm of speculation, and not all speculation is equally reliable. Still, I think any of us could imagine some of the elements of a more sustainable society, one that is better integrated and self sufficient at local and regional levels. Whether or not we wind up with a regulated capitalist system or some non-capitalist system of our own invention, or some combination of economic relations remains to be seen. The only thing we can know with certainty is that unregulated capitalism that aims for the accumulation of wealth and requires infinite economic growth won't be one of the options. Knowing where we are and imagining where we might need to be are difficult, but these problems are nothing compared to figuring out the mechanisms to get us there.

loloen 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree! Where's the stuff for the families? No mini golf, roller skating rinks, arcades, hell, even a Chuck E Cheese would be nice. There are far more elementary/jr. high children in this town than College kids. And guess what? Their parents aren't broke. College kids don't spend the money (except on education) the way families with children do.

For my proposed development: Call Bill Warren. Tell him to convert the eyesore of the I-70 business center into a state of the art Warren movie theater. You watch, where he builds, businesses follow. He has increased Wichita's business growth more than any other businessman. That's who the city ought to woo. We in Lawrence deserve a decent movie theater! I have nothing against Liberty Hall, they fill their niche. Southwind is another story. RAZE it!

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

loloen wrote: "Where's the stuff for the families? No mini golf, roller skating rinks, arcades, hell, even a Chuck E Cheese would be nice."

I feel the boat listing...

loloen 10 years, 4 months ago

JADE: Get off your high horse. You don't corner the market on intellectual thinking. I was merely expressing my frustration that this town is NOT family friendly. Of course, you'd prefer we were all sterile and sitting around in the dark after the sun goes down, rationing out food kernel by kernel until we all meet our untimely demise (FROM BOREDOM).

No thanks. I agree with some of the stuff you're espousing (rather aggressively) but seriously, back off.

Todd 10 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like Lawrence is tired of being a bedroom community. Here are some ideas to change that:

How about a city income tax? All income from within the city limits is exempted. Perhaps 0.5% for income that comes from Douglas county but not from Lawrence. Then a 1% rate for income from other counties.

Another idea is to tax the bedroom doors themselves. Yep, put toll gates on the major roads into the city. Charging $1 to enter exit the city during rush hour.

Raise property taxes significantly while introducing a refund program for regular people. (Like the Federal earned income tax credit) If your household makes less than the median income you don't pay any of this new tax. The refund would then be phased out for higher incomes. One property per household. (It's a residential exemption, not a business one)

These ideas, or variants of them, should discourage people from using Lawrence as a bedroom community.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

loloen wrote: "I agree with some of the stuff you're espousing (rather aggressively) but seriously, back off."

Now, what would compel me to do that? Until you are authorized by the Journal World to decide who may and may not contribute, you'll just have to put up with voices you don't want to hear. Or you can find something else to do with your time.

LRonDrunkard 10 years, 4 months ago

Its a shame that so many defenders and apologists for the unfettered capitalist status quo rely on specious arguments like "its been done before, doesn't work". Because, in fact, it has worked several times. What tends to happen, though, is that those with concentrated power (the business owners and their allies in government) suppress and destroy movements of the people to create just, egalitarian societies. The Communists crushed it; the Fascists crushed it, and the Capitalists sure as hell have crushed it. What Jade and others are talking about is called Social Democracy. check out this speech by Naomi Klein before spouting off about what has worked and what hasn't.

http://www.mstbrazil.org/?q=naomikleinonmstandstruggle

I don't know anyone that seriously argues against a basic level of capitalism as a perfectly functional economic model, but an economic system has to account for ALL of its costs, not just the ones that are easily measurable in dollars and can be charged to a direct participant in the transaction. Markets can be extremely efficient. They can also be extremely dangerous because of the amount of time it can take for them to "balance out". In the meantime, thousands are thrown out of work, air and water are polluted, communities are destroyed. Jade is saying that we need to start accounting for the externalities in the economy and the only way to do that is to have a much stronger democracy with more power in the hands of everyday people so that we all get to share in and benefit from the decision-making process, not just those who own the capital. Capitalism won't go away but it shouldn't be allowed to run amok through our communities with little or no regard for its complete impacts.

As for what's wrong with Lawrence, maybe its that its always been just progressive enough to only be about 20 years out-of-date, rather than 40. Plenty of communities have figured out how to stop Sprawl-Marts AND entice industries that pay GOOD wages with GOOD benefits. That's how people afford housing and then pay property and sales taxes. How much revenue (and similarly, how many dollars recirculate through the local economy) do you think the city gets from a poor sap working for $6.50 an hour? Depending on the development/construction industry, which is inherently boom and bust, for your economic base is doomed to failure.

loloen 10 years, 4 months ago

Jade: I didn't mean you had to back off declaring your personal views, but rather, get off my ass.

And anyway, you obviously are so worried about your own carbon footprint you are on the computer wasting precious resources all day long. I would have expected you to chisel your manifesto into stone. Would be more environmentally friendly.

Max 1: Thanks for the statistics. Honestly got it wrong on that one. Got any info on the ratio of $$ those college students pump into the community as opposed to families? That's what I'd like to see.

jade 10 years, 4 months ago

Well, loloen, I don't actually have an interest in your ass so you needn't worry about my being on it. To suggest that I desire economic calamity and the painful changes it will necessitate seems deliberately obtuse. I doubt you really missed the point by such a wide margin. LRonDrunkard is pretty close to the mark, though I do not propose Social Democracy--a fine model nonetheless. We'll find something that suits us, and it may or may not resemble that arrangement. LRon also notes the importance of externalities that go unaccounted for and unpaid by producers. That's not a point to be missed--thanks LRon for making it. There are some pretty impressive minds out there who have attempted putting price tags on the services provided by ecosystems as both sources and sinks, but I have trouble seeing such a program getting off the ground. It seems more likely that the ecological unravelling will occur first, but maybe I'm unnecessarily pessimistic.

The LJW article to which this entire discussion has responded framed the discussion in a way that laments the economic slowdown associated with new housing construction. Such a position assumes the desirability of economic growth, despite the evidence that economic growth is the source of global warming, pollution, ecological devastation, species extinctions, and social inequality and instability which the primary beneficiaries of economic growth handle with political and police repression, intimidation, a burgeoning prison industry, and war. Evidence from the world's oil and natural gas fields raises serious questions about life after peak oil when energy becomes unaffordable and the economy falls apart. It seems to me we can sit back and watch that and then act to try to salvage something of our lives, or we can begin to design a way to survive the now unavoidable crisis, and we can design a more sustainable way to live. Some of us think these are serious issues, worthy of discussion and work. Some get really scared and lash out or retreat. Some are simply in denial. I think we should talk to each other now so we can help each other later.

coneflower 10 years, 4 months ago

Anonymous user

loloen wrote: "Where's the stuff for the families? No mini golf, roller skating rinks, arcades, hell, even a Chuck E Cheese would be nice."

How sad that in a town filled with libraries, book stores, art classes, drama classes, dance classes, galleries, museums, parks, a charming downtown, three free recreation centers, three public pools, a parks and rec program, Wednesdays for kids downtown, cheap public transportation, parent groups, neighborhood associations, a lake, a river, bike trails, walking paths...

Thank God kids in L aren't limited to the type of activities you mention.

Kookamooka 10 years, 4 months ago

Everybody misses the point. Who cares how many college students are here right now. We want to attract businesses. Obviously the college students aren't a draw for businesses. A more welcoming environment for families could be a draw. The cities that are growing in this state are growing because families are locating to their city. Families are leaving Lawrence and moving to Shawnee, and Overland Park and even....gasp! Topeka. Cities where they make a living wage and have affordable housing. I read an article recently, in Money magazine, that cited Overland Park has having an annual income of near 99,000 per household and housing prices below the national average. The Shawnee Mission school district is the best in the state, their Parks are amazing and there are tons of opportunties for families. I'm not advocating that Lawrence turn into O.P. but if growth is what you want, O.P. is the model. AND.....pssst. It doesn't just cater to college students and/or baby boomers. O.P. caters to families.

Kookamooka 10 years, 4 months ago

Coneflower. How many times can you visit the same places and not long for a little variation? Our library sucks. Just look around at what other cities offer and you'll feel deprived.

coneflower 10 years, 4 months ago

I love the library. The children's section is as nice as any, anywhere. If the library isn't big enough for you, try the KU libraries, which are available, free, to any Kansas resident. To each his own, I guess. Too few video arcades and Chuck E. Cheeses do not make me, or my kids, feel deprived. It's sad that kids cannot be entertained unless they can pay an admission fee somewhere. Ever hear of skating outdoors? What on earth are all those brand-new cul-de-sacs for? What about the biking and walking trails?

Lawrence is rich in the things that matter, to me and my family.

snowWI 10 years, 4 months ago

Kookamooka, I want to see the source for that Overland Park income data. I do not think Lawrence needs to emulate the growth and development patterns of Overland Park and Olathe. These cities are struggling to stay on top of all the population growth and sprawl related problems. They keep building more schools in areas further and further removed from the urban core as well. Have you been on I-435 lately? It is now 8 lanes in some areas. Their are many neighborhoods in Johnson County that were built long before I-435 became along. Now I see a lot of for sale signs in areas near that interstate. I think it is a quality of life issue myself.

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