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Old 07-02-2007, 11:28 AM
 
20,337 posts, read 37,854,657 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebird39 View Post
Hi there,....snip...Michigan taxes second homes MUCH higher than homesteads. It's a good idea, IMO. So many homes where I live are vacation homes, and it just makes me sick that they stand vacant for 11 months out of the year.....
Good tactic. I see the same sort of "waste" when I drive by the storage yards on Powers Blvd in NE COL SPGS and see HUNDREDS of RVs sitting there that hardly ever leave the compound. Lots of boats in there too.

Long ago I learned "boats are a hole in the water you pour money into." Same for anything that "moves" (including horses). One gets eaten alive on the operating, maintenance, and depreciation expenses. But our government gives people tax breaks (especially the sacred cow of "small business") for having these "corporate assets." It keeps several industries busy cranking out more of this stuff. I used to live in the Baltimore-DC area, the Chesapeake region. Trust me, the boat yards there are FULL of boats that only leave the dock once in a while. And with fuel at $3.50 a gallon, filling up a power boat with its 200 gallon tanks is not for the faint of heart. But hey, it's a babe magnet.... gotta have it....

Truth is, the same dynamic is at work for those folks who just have to have a horse for their little girl. Another acquisition that requires acres of land and endless checks written for vet bills, tack, feed, fencing, barn, and a horse trailer with an 8-10 MPG dualie to pull it all.

Much of what I'm talking about here is what psychologists and marriage counselors call the "acquisition phase" of the male life cycle. Men are very prone to this, feel a need to prove to their old man that they can cut it, that they can get the big-breasted wife, a house in the lane with a white picket fence, nice cars, the 2.5 kids and a dog. Throw in a pool, boat and RV and the Triple Crown of male achievement is complete. Like that TV commercial where "Stanley Johnson" smilingly rides around on a new lawn mower, "How do I do it? I'm up to my eyeballs in debt. Somebody help me."

Some people are house poor, boat poor, horse poor, RV poor, Harley poor. Some are poor multiple ways. There are many full garages and empty lives. Not all, but some. No sense chasing toys or material things. Hollow victories.

I learned early to preserve capital, invest in assets that grow value. When I wanted a power boat, I went fishing on a charter boat which costs me all of $75 and I had no expense for taxes, fuel, insurance, maintenance, bait, tackle, or depreciation on an asset costing as much as my home. I can rent an RV too, or a boat, or a Harley, or a vacation home for a week, or a motel room, or a time share. And when I want to go horseback riding, I go to one of the local stables and ride for 2 hours - and then walk away from it. When I do one of these things, I spend my money on people who know what they're doing and are in THAT business full time. I have a better experience and I support the right people. I see no benefit in me competing with all the boat yards, motels, stables, etc. I don't have TIME to learn all of those fields to be really good at it, so I spend my money on people who DO know their field and deserve to be patronized. Win-Win. The environment wins too.

Too much conspicuous consumption, too little wisdom, too foolish a tax code. Hey, its The American Way (sarcasm).

Last edited by Mike from back east; 06-07-2009 at 12:54 PM..
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Old 07-02-2007, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
404 posts, read 515,398 times
Reputation: 51
In CHicago building a house doesn't impact the land too much unless a crack dealer is moving in. I'm luck to live in front of a 3 acre park that was recently rebuild with a sled hill. The village could have easily build condo's. There's always some new complex being built.

Anyways, I understand what you're saying I like have an open area. the other three sides of the property the homes/buildings range from arms length away to 50 feet to the garage.

But it's ironic that when some one builds a home or installs a septic system, it's called an improvement to the land.
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Old 07-02-2007, 07:41 PM
 
16 posts, read 36,301 times
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Default "so what does one do?"

<<<<<<<While I like that I can recycle my plastic/glass/paper and can avoid adding to the daily commute here in this metropolis, I'm not satisfied. The need to see deer, to see the stars, to hear actual quiet, to connect with something far larger is too overpowering for me to be content (on paper anyway) in my current state.

Am I to be made to feel guilty for wanting the kind of lifestyle that promises spiritual growth? ......I don't want to be regarded as one of the enemies. ... But, how can I or anyone else hope to achieve that if we live surrounded by 4 million other people who don't have a clue that that connection is quickly going to become mandatory?>>>>>>

mhouse2001, you articulated beautifully my painful struggle since I read jazzlover's (as usual) insightful and incisive post. Yes, I can relate. Needing desperately to get away from Chicago's unbearable aggression and crowding, corruption and tension, and from the smog and pollutants (and my resulting, often disabling allergy/immune system problems), I have dreamt more and more fervently about moving to a more natural setting, where I can go days w/o seeing people, being surrounded by beauty, clean air and peace. A nature-loving curmudgeon...an impossible combination.

I don't--and won't--drive an SUV/Hummer, blast car music, want to build a new house, pave anything new, etc. I despise lawns and am meticulous about water/energy usage. I want to keep it simple, as minimally harmful as possible. But clearly, I am still participating in this destructive process if I seek what I feel I need.

I become nauseous when I think about harming the environment and the living things I love. I don't know the answer either (though I couldn't agree more about our horrendously destructive addiction to automobiles).
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Old 07-02-2007, 10:16 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,134,776 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebird39 View Post
Hi there,

I also wanted to add that once a piece of land is subdivided, it never goes back to it's original size. It only keeps getting split and split.

More than ever are we not only driving to places, but living in places that people aren't supposed to live in.
Most of the time, it's true--once split up, land never gets recombined. There was a big exception--it occurred right here in the Rocky Mountain West. The reasons behind it give some food for thought when we consider what we are doing today.

Over a century ago, there was a frenzy to homestead areas of the Great Plains comprising the eastern portions of the Rocky Mountain states. Thousands of homesteaders were granted 160 acres to farm. What they did not know was that the area of the arid plains they chose for their homestead did not have a climate suitable for dryland cultivated agriculture most of the time. For the early years of the 20th century, nature kept the homesteaders fooled with several years of above normal precipitation. Long before the start of the Great Depression, however, homesteaders were getting hit with the double whammy of low commodity prices following World War I and a climate that was becoming much more "normal"--meaning drier.

What happened next was one of the greatest environmental disasters up to that time. The combination of poor farming practices and a multi-year drought in the 1930's combined to create the "Dust Bowl." The "black blizzards" of those years lifted untold millions of tons of topsoil from the Great Plains into the atmosphere and blew it as far east as the Atlantic Ocean. Crop failures were near total for several consecutive years. As a result, thousands of farmers abandoned their land, some returning to from wherever they came, many others (ironically) moving to California. Sadly, suicides were also common out on the plains in those years, too.

In response to the disaster, the federal government began acquiring lands on the Great Plains--and systematically began restoring grasses and other native vegetation to stablize the soil. Untold thousands of former homestead lands were amalgamated into what is today the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands in New Mexico, the Comanche and Pawnee in Colorado, and the Thunder Basin in Wyoming. In most of these grasslands (except in Wyoming, where the grassland is underlain by gigantic reserves of coal), about the only human-made structures to be found are some stock ponds, windmills, a few oil and gas wells, and the remnants of long-abandoned homesteads.

So, at some point, will the federal government be acquiring the abandoned rural subdivisions and sprawled suburbia of the modern Rocky Mountain West, after BOTH the water and cheap petroleum run painfully short? Only time will answer that question. But, those abandoned homesteads, determinedly built by misguided settlers in an environment absolutely unsuited for what those settlers attempted, probably gives us some ominous guidance as to what our future may hold.
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Old 07-03-2007, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Eastern Oregon
505 posts, read 1,912,998 times
Reputation: 257
Default interesting

I wish that'd happen up here in Northern Michigan. There are SO many vacant run down homes that no former owner can sell.

I often wonder what's going to happen when the baby boomers start dying off (to be painfully blunt). All of the land and houses they have accumulated over the years are going to flood the market. Of course our country is still growing population-wise, but it'll be interesting when they get older and have to be closer to medical facilities in big cities, and want to "down-size".... Just speculation of course...
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Montana
1,219 posts, read 2,759,680 times
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Default good post

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I have hesitated to post the following because it will obviously anger a lot of people who continue to think that their "little piece of heaven" property in rural Colorado is not having any adverse impacts on the state's fragile environment. Well, somebody besides me, namely some very knowledgeable individuals in geography and environmental matters, have weighed in on the subject.

I am currently reading a recently published book which analyzes the long-term human impacts on the environment in southwestern Colorado. The book is “The Nature of Southwestern Colorado: Recognizing Human Legacies and Restoring Natural Places” by Deborah D. Paulson and William L. Baker, both professors of geography at the University of Wyoming. The book discusses the century-plus of environmental impacts of “modern” settlement in southwestern Colorado. It talks a great deal about past impacts—mining, logging, and ranching, for example—and makes note of the positive steps taken in those industries to lessen or mitigate environmental damage. Though it discusses the southwestern Colorado area specifically, the book should be required reading for anyone considering moving to the rural parts of the Rocky Mountain West.

However, in a two-page subsection of the book, subtitled “Rural Sprawl and its Ecological Impacts” the authors make a damning indictment of the environmental havoc being wrought by rural residential development in mountain areas. The authors point out that, “Communities across the West are grappling with the effects of rapid growth, as affluent professionals, baby-boomer retirees, and vacation home builders flock to the amenity-rich Rocky Mountain states from all other parts of the country. Population increased in the Mountain West by 25 percent in the 1990s, and growth rates are predicted to remain high.”

The authors continue, pointing out that many of these new residents choose to settle in low-density rural development. The damaging character of this kind of development is then explained:

“Rural sprawl results when large private ranches are divided into multiple homesites, commonly thirty-five acre ‘ranchettes.’ Although this book describes many negative impacts of livestock grazing on natural communities, ranching could be reformed to better coexist with the natural world. Widespread rural subdivision, on the other hand, has inherent negative impacts, many of which cannot be overcome, not even by the most conscientious homeowner. The lower elevations around mountains provide critical winter range for big game, valleys are the most productive farmland, and streamside (riparian) habitat supports two-thirds of Colorado’s plant and animal species. Yet these are the very lands where sprawl is concentrated because they are largely private and are preferred locations for homesites.”

The authors go on to explain these impacts, including the negative impacts on animals and plants by the increased road density necessary for rural development. The authors note that, “Most insidious, roads fragment the landscape, increasing edges that favor generalist species such as skunks and coyotes and reducing large habitat blocks needed by more specialized species.”

The authors then cite a litany of problems of invasive, noxious and non-native plant species that proliferate in rural subdivisions due the disturbance of the ground inherent in such development, as well as the ignorant overgrazing of subdivision parcels by horses and other livestock that their owners allow. They also catalog the increased killing of wildlife, some rare or threatened, by domestic cats and dogs in such rural subdivisions.

The authors finally point out that the presence of rural subdivisions in close proximity to public lands is compromising the ability of those public lands to be effectively managed, particularly in the area of fire management, prevention of fuel buildups, and prescribed burning.

The last sentence of the subsection is, while understated, the most scathing (I added the caps for emphasis): “While homeowners can reduce some of their impacts by the choices they make, THERE IS CONSIDERABLE IRONY TO BUILDING A HOUSE IN THE WOODS TO BE WITH NATURE.”

This is another one of the issues that no one wants to address. The people buying and building on these tracts are often either too ignorant or too self-centered to acknowledge the damage they are doing to Colorado’s natural and historical heritage. The developers generally couldn’t care less—they are only in the business of carving land up for profit. The real estate and construction people won’t say anything—they have prostituted themselves into being part of the destruction because it is often the only way to make a living in many of these places, since most other industry has either been closed down or chased out. And, of course, the elected officials, from the state down to the local level, who could reasonably regulate such development to discourage wanton destruction of rural Colorado, refuse to do so because the development, real estate, and construction lobbies are the most potent political force in the state.

And so the “Colorado way of life” that so many of those of us who have deep roots in Colorado remember and cherish continues to be destroyed—out of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.
Great Post! I'll be reading the book you referenced for sure. Thanks for the insight.
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Earth
1,442 posts, read 3,574,674 times
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I think it's great that people are starting to have that 'awareness', at least from the posts on this thread. The majority of Americans still don't want to change, but in time they won't have a choice. We're all guilty to some extent, but having the capacity to think about the real costs behind how we choose to live is a step in the right direction. And UW is my alma mater, so I gotta give props to that...
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Old 06-02-2008, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
719 posts, read 2,309,802 times
Reputation: 487
Jazz wrote:
I know an individual who has made his living (a very good one for years) by buying sensitive private inholdings in the national forests, then blackmailing the federal government into buying them by threatening to develop them or engage in some obnoxious, but legal practice upon them. Ah, your tax dollars at work . . .

That's that Chapman fellow, isn't it? He had some big ideas around the Black Canyon awhile back. Theres a similar personality in the SLV who basically does the same with water diversion threats.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:05 PM
 
Location: East Valley of Phoenix
194 posts, read 463,837 times
Reputation: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhouse2001 View Post
I live in Phoenix. I just started a job that I can walk to in 7 minutes. I'm very happy with this situation on a superficial level; however, I'm smack in the middle of 4 million other people.

The place I chose in Colorado was 23 paved miles from town where the nearest grocery and gas station would be. Am I to be made to feel guilty for wanting the kind of lifestyle that promises spiritual growth? Am I to restrict my nature-loving self to random vacation weekends and leave nature at some respectable distance from my daily life? I don't want to be regarded as one of the enemies. Nothing means more to me than the preservation of nature, with mankind living in balance with it. There is no future without that reconnection. But, how can I or anyone else hope to achieve that if we live surrounded by 4 million other people who don't have a clue that that connection is quickly going to become mandatory?

I don't have a clue how to operate a chainsaw to cut firewood, but I'm willing to learn. I don't want to resort to burning my trash like other mountain dwellers do because I think that may be more damaging (but, again, I'm willing to learn the right way). Are there others who feel this way? I've got to start somewhere. Sitting behind a computer locked into air-conditioned cubicles isn't doing it for me!
I completely agree with you.
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:07 PM
 
2,437 posts, read 7,116,609 times
Reputation: 1506
What, exactly, is RURAL sprawl? Is that, like, farmland spilling out into the city?
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