Emergency response times limiting development

A six-month-old Prince George’s County law that makes new home construction contingent on ample fire and police service has essentially shut down the pipeline of new projects across the county, planning officials say.
This is a very interesting article in today’s Washington Post, particularly when looked at from a local perspective. I am surprised that the anti-growth activists have not taken this position before. On its face the argument seems logical – if you want to build, you have to pay to ensure adequate emergency services. Builders and developers would surely pass the costs on to the purchasers, but is this not the way the market works?
One Democrat says that
“It would not hire more police officers or pay to get more firetrucks,” Hendershot said. “All it would do, which it has done, is shut off development activity, which has the possibility to generate revenue to hire more police officers and get more firetrucks.”

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3 Comments

  1. Ted Corcoran June 20, 2005 at 10:27

    Slightly underhanded quoting “One Democrat…”, with a pro-development bias, Jim.

    How about:

    “I think it’s tragic that no one has a backbone,” said Carmen Anderson, a civic activist. “Every time we get a piece of legislation that puts a slowdown on development, they act like the sky is falling, and it soon gets undone.”

    Poor pigeon holed “civic activists,” always wanting to dam up the works. The article describes the development “already in the pipeline” as omni-present. The point of the legislation is to slow down development until services can catch up. And that is what it is doing. What looks like a full stop is the county catching its breath before moving ahead.

    And the idea of the Council “relaxing” response time requirements for fire and rescue is a crime. Not smart, either. The first heart attack victim that dies because the ambulance couldn’t reach them in time (under relaxed guidlines), and PG will be on the hook for millions in restitution.

    That could buy a few fire stations…

  2. Jim June 20, 2005 at 10:35

    I didn’t see that as underhanded; I just re-scanned the article and there were two gentlemen identified with a capital “D,” I happened to mention one of them. For the record, I think that, in theory, limiting development based on emergency response times is a good idea.

    And the idea of the Council “relaxing” response time requirements for fire and rescue is a crime. Not smart, either. The first heart attack victim that dies because the ambulance couldn’t reach them in time (under relaxed guidlines), and PG will be on the hook for millions in restitution.

    Very true. I hope that as a region, we are able to learn from the experiences of others and plan accordingly. Unfortunately, the realist/cynic in me does not believe that will happen. All we can do is work our best to listen to others and effect change whenever and however we can.

  3. Jim June 20, 2005 at 10:38

    “All it would do, which it has done, is shut off development activity, which has the possibility to generate revenue to hire more police officers and get more firetrucks.”

    This really is the “chicken-or-the-egg” argument. Should we build the facilities in anticipation of the growth/development or wait until things are so bad that we have to build them?