Thursday, January 29, 2009

Job losses at REBIC

I ran into Andy Munn from the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition at Monday's City Council meeting, and he confirmed that due to the recession, which has hit real estate and development particularly hard, the REBIC lobbying organization has laid off staff, including Mary Thomsen, the former executive director, and staffer Tim Morgan. Developer and consultant Karla Knotts is acting executive director.

REBIC is funded by dues and donations from member companies and groups, such as the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association, Home Builders Association of Charlotte.

The REBIC home page also notes that City Council on Feb. 9 will make appointments to the Airport Advisory Committee (for a west Charlotte resident), the Keep Charlotte Beautiful committee and the Tree Advisory Commission. The link posted didn't work. Sorry. Check (I'm at Mecklenburg County commissioners' retreat and they're going through the dismal projections for next year's budget and need to pay attention.)


Rick B said...

Forgive me if I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for the clowns at REBIC. The irony of REBIC, as well as its subsidiaries such as the homebuilders associations, is that not only have they harmed - perhaps irreparably - our communities and our very society, they have thrown their own members under the bus too.

The "big boys" at REBIC et al knew what they were doing. They were lobbying against any sort of restraint on the overbuilding that was taking place regionally. They were lobbying against any regulations that would allow their dismal creations to be in any way sustainable or to offer long-term benefits to buyers. They were promoting a "gold-rush attitude" in their membership, encouraging "build, build, build" - of course, with clearcutting of all tree cover, massive and destructive site grading, toxic erosion and sedimentation to ruin our surface waters, and complete indifference to the ancillary costs of their activities such as the need for BILLIONS of dollars in school construction, funded with bonds that taxpayers will be paying off until their grandchildren are graduating from college.

They opposed any sort of cost sharing, lobbying against impact fees or other cooperative methods to fund the massive infrastructure needs of their activities. They talked the "affordable housing" line, but refused to build sufficient housing for the workforce because their members could make bigger profits, quicker, by building sprawling tracts of bloated and overpriced McMansions far out into the countryside.

They've systematically destroyed the region's productive farmland and essential forest land, refusing to enter into any sort of cooperative discussions on balancing land uses. No tract, however environmentally or agriculturally important, was off-limits to these vultures and their chainsaws and buldozers.

And worst, while they were destroying our very natural heritage, they were deceiving many of their own members. They opened the door to massive national homebuilding chains to put small local builders out of business. They encouraged deliberate overbuilding, knowing that someday the oversupply was going to catch up with the market, but not caring because the "big boys" would have already taken their massive profits. They encouraged and facilitated irresponsible lending, knowing that the buyers who had obtained ridiculous loans would not be able to carry them long term, but not caring because they would have already sold their product and gotten away with the loot while lenders were stuck with collateral that was overvalued by corrupt appraisers in the first place and that was sinking further in value faster than the Titanic.

They knew what they were doing. They didn't care. Any of us who dared question their vision of "build, build, build...and then build some more" were tarred as being "anti-homeowner", or "socialist", or "anti-American". We were accused of trying to kill "the American Dream". We were accused of violating people's property rights when we asked for some restraint in an industry that was clearly out of control. They heavily funded the campaigns of candidates who promised no end to their free ride, and sabatoged the very notion of free and fair elections.

Now the chickens have come home to roost, except the roosting price isn't being paid by the instigators: it's being paid by the homeowners, the small independent builders, the carpenters, the masons, the sales office secretaries, all of whom were considered expendable members of the food chain to the REBIC vultures. They've killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, all right, except they managed to steal all the gold before the goose died.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Rick.

damn yankee said...

I will shed no tears for REBIC or any it's bastard PACs like 'SSPACE' or conjoined organizations like the Homebuilders Associations and Charlotte Realtor groups who as Rick said lobbied against any and all corporate responsibility.

The Charlotte Metro boom is not a new phenomenon, it's happened everywhere.

They knew what would happen but they choose short term greed instead of long term stablility.

There was no reasoning with REBIC, they commissioned studies with predetermined results like the JUD Report, to butress their collective lie that 'Growth pays for itself" and trumpeting the call to arms for 'property rights'.

REBIC and the building industry successfully opposed the transfer tax in 2007 - a very expensive victory for all of us and another nail in the coffin for local communities trying to deliver services for the new residents.

What say you REBIC for all the existing homeowners whose home values have crashed, due to foreclosures and the incredible glut of new home inventory.

History, the current market and next five years of recession will prove that REBIC like the Titanic was the folly of greedy arrogant people and if there is any justice in the world, REBIC and it's sycophantic board will land in the same place.