Blindly support Paso Robles or else
February 24, 2012
OPINION By WALTER HEER
The indicant in the news between the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and Gary Nemeth caught my attention. I don’t know what really happened, but can tell my experience.
First of all, I’m not inclined to defend Gary in that he was one of the council members that voted to close down the Pumpkin Farm, and for all I know Mike Gibson’s explanation is really what happened.
My family was active with the Chamber of Commerce for 50 years, my father actually started the Annual Agriculture Tour. I was on the Agri-Business Committee for 36 years, a quarter of that time I served as chairman. I was looking forward to the 50th anniversary, hoping to acknowledge those early members that put so much effort in making it a success.
What I found out is that anyone who is publicly critical of the city government, as Gary and I have been, are no longer welcome in the chamber. In the past the chambers guideline was “making Paso Robles a better place to live” and a lot of the membership was private citizens.
Now the Chamber seems to be dominated by people whose business depends of foot traffic. There are a couple of reasons that puts them in bed with the city government. Now, the chamber is dependent on the city budget for so much of their revenue that when the city manager says jump, they say how high. But more worrisome is they want tax rates, and fees paid by citizens used to increase their business.
Home building generates more customers, and that is good for business. However, is it good for residents of Paso if they have to pay for it? Development is good when it pays for itself, when the residents are forced to subsidize it then it is profitable for one group at the expense of another.
When you look at your property tax bill, do you get a new benefit out of state water, or the D-98 bond, or was that just because of housing development? When you look at the huge water and sewer bills you will be facing, you have to ask yourself, if the city wasn’t growing so much, would you be paying this? Again, I believe that growth is good if it pays for itself.
I don’t believe that the residents should be forced by the city to subsidize it. The people should have some say in what they are willing to pay for.
The Nacimiento water issue was handled very badly by the city. If there was any question if the city residents wanted it, it should have been put to a vote. The city council knew they needed water for development, but the were worried that the people wouldn’t want to pay or vote for it, so they went ahead and did it anyway. Was this serving the citizens or was this was this forcing people to pay for something that benefits developers and merchants? We have had a city government that for the last decade has been hell bent on housing development, no matter how much it increases the cost of living of the residents.