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Birth Rate Hogwash

Gazette reporter Perry Swanson invested considerable time into trying to understand why I discount growth boosters’ preoccupation with using “net natural increase” and “net migration” figures to give the impression fertility is the biggest contributor to our burgeoning local population. So it surprised and disappointed me to see a gross figure, birth rate, compared with net migration in both a caption and his story (Look how we’ve grown, 3/16/06). That’s the kind of manipulation of data I’ve come to expect from the growth industry.

One might wonder if there’s something in our water making us much more fertile than the rest of the country. The fertility rate in the U.S. today is just barely above replacement level, so it defies logic that birth rate would be the biggest contributor to our rapidly growing El Paso County population. Part of the explanation is we have many young military families of child-bearing age. Our state demographer has confirmed most of those babies leave the county within a year or two of their birth. . . .

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Growth: Just Say No

Your Turn

Published August 8, 2002 in The Colorado Springs Independent

It’s time we talk frankly about development, baseball stadiums, convention centers, traffic and water. Someone has to be the first to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes!

Jeff Smith wants to build a baseball stadium downtown. Rocky Scott works to attract new businesses to town. Terry Sullivan tells us we need Confluence Park and a convention center in the south end. These efforts have one thing in common: Developers stand to make money if these projects are successful.

Does Smith want to move the Sky Sox in order to revitalize downtown? Or because he’ll make millions from development around the stadium? We already have a charming, vibrant and vital downtown. Jeff’s plans will ensure we have gridlock on Interstate 25 even if it’s widened even further. . . .

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Banning Lewis Ranch

Op Ed submitted by Dave Gardner to The Gazette
(it was edited down and printed as an LTE)

The Gazette’s story Sunday about Banning Lewis Ranch (BLR) could only scratch the surface of implications for our city’s future. BLR is very significant to our community because, as the story pointed out, the massive 24,000 acre development represents about a third of the city’s geographic footprint.

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Artificial Growth Stimulant Unwise

I urge you to consider carefully your approach to development application fees this month, and generally your approach to assessing new development for all its impacts – not just on the city general fund but directly on every local resident. These fees are a relatively small step, but we must start somewhere in revising our past practice of embracing growth without regard for the true net financial impact. I appreciate your desire not to reward any deception by city staff in the budgeting process, but the importance of this issue to our future transcends the petty backroom politics.

Current Practice Artificially Stimulates Growth

The impact of new development extends way beyond the city’s general fund. If one dispassionately and objectively adds up ALL the financial impacts of new subdivisions, fees charged don’t come close to covering them. This amounts to a subsidy from the city and the local residents, which serves to distort . . .

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Challenging Conventional Wisdom

Rocky Scott of the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. recently told the group, “Jobs are needed for the 200,000 new residents expected in El Paso County in the next 20 years.” That summarizes the plan our leaders have for this town. This, when we are so painfully reminded there isn’t much water around here. We’ll be asked to pay more dearly with each passing year for water rights from increasingly reluctant sellers. And we’ll pay to pump that water over ever-increasing distances.

Why do Rocky and his cohorts want to see this community at 140% of it’s current population? Let’s give them the benefit of

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