In the light of last week’s Biscuit Run hearing on adding 3000 homes to the Southern part of CharlAlbemarle, I am faced anew with the struggle our region faces, and how to cope with the challenges of being a Realtor who makes my living marketing and selling houses – across the gamut of price ranges … and the challenge of balancing that clear self-interest with the charge we all have of ensuring a high quality of life for ourselves and those who follow. As a Realtor, I recognize that people move to the Charlottesville area not necessarily because their jobs are moving, but because we are a destination with a reputed high quality of life. How do we maintain that quality of life?
What do we want this area to look like for our children? Their children? When thinking about these prospects, I look at the various special interest groups -
We are going to grow. That much is a fact (and the City of Charlottesville may be ever-so-slightly losing population, depending on which data you use).
CAAR, Piedmont Environmental Council, The Free Enterprise Forum, ASAP, the Blue Ridge Homebuilders, SELC, Farm Bureau … the list is nearly endless … each of which argues/lobbies from some extreme, in one way or another. But where is the middle? Each group is right on some points, and right on some. This should not be a partisan, “us -v- them” issue, but it is.
Someone asked me the other day* why CAAR has to have a position on growth. My response was simple – because everyone else does. If the agenda is set and proscribed without countering input, the end result will inevitably be one-sided; then, everybody loses. Believe it or not, Realtors do not advocate any and all growth. We market and sell a high quality of life, not just houses. Good growth is beneficial; but how does our region define “good growth?”
As Waldo said:
How we deal with growth is broken. Totally and utterly broken.
What are the direct consequences of growth? Limiting growth? What are the unintended consequences? We are not going to stop growing. Stop allowing people to move here? It’s America! What are the consequences when we reach some arbitrary “hard” population limit? Draw straws to see who moves out? Restrict pregnancies? Arguing from the extreme is but one step. Recognizing the extreme and negotiating from there is where successes can be gained.
Shutting down development is not a viable solution – it is reactionary, unnecessarily and unreasonably extreme. Permitting unfettered growth is equally unreasonable.
What is the win-win solution? TDRs? Even more on TDRs. Here is my question on TDRs: If there are 20,000 development rights in the new “boundary area,” what happens if there are 50,000 development rights to that could be sold in the rural area? First come, first serve? What about the 30k rights that are lost/stolen by the government? The TDR package as it stands today might pass the BoS. But is that what we really want?
So here is the question – what do we want CharlAlbemarle/Central Virginia to look like in fifty years?
*Disclosure: I sit on CAAR’s Board of Directors and am the current Chair of the Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee. These remarks are independent of those positions.