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Whoa. I just crawled out from under my inbox, which has been sagging under the weight of your thoughts about this government/developer conversation. The median word count in your e-mails has got to be something like 625, I think. So here goes; I’ll try to consolidate and share the highlights with you to keep this conversation going.

Let’s start with Mick Pattinson, whom I wrote about recently. That story launched this whole discussion. He criticized the level of fees, the time it takes to get a plan approved, and environmentalists.

Much has to change if the housing scene is to be revitalized in San Diego. There will be a few years (2 or 3) where the projects taken back by lenders come back to market at distressed prices and are built out. Then what? What is going to change? We are three years into our housing recession and so far nothing has happened to make you think anyone believes they have to be part of the solution. …

Look at the unemployment rate in this State. 9.3% and climbing fast. This is not good. And its going to get worse. Much worse.

Where is the leadership. City Hall? County Hall ? Anywhere? NO. There isn’t any.

This is a bleak picture. I hope it can be turned around but there is so much wrong and so much denial I have my doubts.

Reader SW agrees with Pattinson’s plea for the banks to open the credit gates:

[Pattinson’s] plight, along with thousands of others, is having its effect on all of us. … We are beginning to see the results of the banking industry strangle-hold on money – all of the HUGE layoffs and business closings, which lead to more and more foreclosed homes. …

The banks have eliminated cash flow. It is almost as if they have no idea about the outcome.

What about all of us?

Another reader blogs under the name auntsandiego and thinks there has been too much development:

I am a downtown resident and it seems I disagree with everyone.  When I moved downtown, there was actual sunlight all over the place, now it is blocked by TALL buildings.  I loved the fact that there were only a couple of those tall buildings and they added character to the skyline. … Then, it all started to go to heck. … We now have more tall building than I ever could have imagined.  Not only buildings, but nearly empty buildings.  I am referring to the fact that there are hundreds of unsold condos. …

I am hoping that the regime change in the City Council will be a blessing to downtown residents.  STOP THE BUILDING.  I have a question for Mr. Balben about a comment relayed in your article.  He states the drought isn’t really a valid argument to stop building but, “that our economic growth and jobs are directly related to development.”  Is he saying that San Diego’s economy is dependent on development?  Is there anyone who actually believes that ANY of the construction workers or day laborers could afford any of the condos they are building? 

Carolyn Chase, a local environmentalist and former city planner, chimed in on Balben’s quote, too:

Maybe that has been true in the past, but it has also been one of our biggest vulnerabilities. …

My point is that real estate development is a side-effect of real wealth creation and in and of itself, when done destructively, and speculatively, undermines our quality of life and ability to sustain high-wage, hi-tech jobs. Hi-tech workers tend to like high-quality natural recreational opportunities and hate to waste their time in traffic.

In sum, if we ain’t got real jobs, then no one can afford a new house or bigger apartment. And when builders are allowed to consume land and resources without paying for needed infrastructure, we all pay. …

Real economic growth creates wealth and contributes to the pie – and doesn’t ask the government to either subsidize their risks or the items required for their business. Isn’t that what real capitalism is supposed to be about? …

Growth for growth’s sake is a major reason why the system is crashing around us. And the thinking that development for development’s sake is real economic growth is part of the problem.

KELLY BENNETT

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