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. …