Homes for a Community's Growth

Article excerpt

The St. Louis Regional Commerce & Growth Association, through its Economic Development Campaign, has announced a goal of creating 100,000 new jobs in our area by the year 2000. The campaign's goal of bringing new business and business expansion to St. Louis - to be accomplished through a concentrated community effort - is laudable, and one that all of us recognize as essential to the future of the St. Louis region.

However, bringing new jobs and businesses to St. Louis will create a need for additional housing. If we want businesses to move here, generating tremendous benefits for the region, we must be able to supply good homes for their employees.

St. Louis is one of the most affordable housing markets in the country, for years ranked in the top five metro areas by U.S. Housing Markets, a highly credible publication. Unfortunately, some St. Louisans seem to have taken for granted the abundance of such quality housing and the supply of buildable land for future housing. Affordable housing is being threatened - not by higher interest rates, not by rising labor costs, but by small, vocal forces within our own community.

The reality is that current and future opposition by this minority to residential development casts real doubt on whether high-quality, affordable homes will continue to be in good supply in our area. And that uncertainty casts real doubt on the future for the overall well-being of St. Louis.

Planned growth and development is good for the area. Increased economic benefits accrue to the citizens of a dynamic, growing metropolitan area. The benefits include more employment opportunities, higher-quality jobs and higher-income jobs.

So why all the opposition to residential growth?

"Quality of life" seems to be the phrase most commonly used. Certainly, people do not like unnecessary intrusions into their lives. But quality of life is a relative term and can be a double-edged sword. Those who build a beautiful new home have improved their quality of life. Should the fact they have their new homes allow them to prevent others from achieving a similar goal? Should home owners demand an end to all construction? Or should they place such severe restrictions on location, size and accessibility that they greatly diminish the value and practicality of future new homes?

We live in a society governed by rules and laws to prevent chaos and anarchy. In the development sector, we have rules and laws to accomplish the same goal regarding growth. They include zoning regulations, community plans, subdivision regulations, design ordinances and building regulations. …