Recently local home developers Ennis Homes declared bankruptcy. I wasn’t here at the time the local and connected family owned business did most of its work, which I guess was during the real estate bubble heyday of the not-so-long-ago yesteryear.
(Aside: how long ago does it have to be to be “yesteryear” anyway?)
Controversy is raging in the comments section of the Porterville Recorder. For example, one Ennis supporter writes:
> What you fail to comprehend is that this doesn’t just affect the Ennis family but lost employment for their employees, the numerous vendors, all the local contractors (construction workers, plumbing, cement, drywall, electrical, framers, landscaping, engineers, draftsmen, etc., etc.) too. It means less disposable income and the ripple will affect ALL the businesses (restaurants, movies, grocery stores, etc) in Porterville not to mention the loss of city/county revenue. For those of you who can’t read between the lines….that is the story!
What I don’t fully understand is, why should we be building more suburban sprawl in the middle of nowhere these days? What’s the point?
And why should we take some of the most productive farmland in the world out of production to do it?
People can ask the same of Tracy, but at least there you can make a case it is on the edge of the Bay Area, within commuting distance for some of it, and similarly for Sacramento. You could also say of Tracy that it is on a transportation corridor between the Bay Area, the Delta, and I5.
None of that is remotely true for Porterville. We are not on the edge of anything, an growth in America has essentially been on the edges of urbanized areas since the late 1940s.
I am still thinking about it, but I wonder if that is why development here is destined to be mediocre at best. No new jobs are created, and more importantly, no new wealth is created. Important industry is lost in the process.
People who move here for the most part just come from somewhere else to work at Walmart and shop at Target, the same sorts of things they would have done where they already are or were.
Now, if there was an innovative industry (citrus?) associated with the region that could be capitalized on, or something unique to Porterville that could be built upon (PDC is the only facility of its type in the state and is already the largest employer), then that would be real economic development. Maybe some areas could become solar energy farms for instance. Real wealth could be created and brain drain reversed if the local financial, educational, service, and entrepreneurial sectors put their heads together. The raw materials are here, and they are potentially far more valuable then turning a stretch of 190 into Mooney Boulevard in Visalia.
Suburban sprawl for the sake of sprawl? Far from anywhere in an era when fuel resources and atmospheric situations are going to drive us to drive less? Is the promise to the kids of Porterville that the education system will get some or most of them out of here, and for those who don’t make it, at least there will be more then enough retail jobs to keep them busy selling unhealthy food and cheap goods to their remaining friends? What will be the promise to that generation’s kids? Mommy and daddy didn’t get out and you can try or work at the same places which will be aging by then?
Why build an island of sprawl at Porterville, if it is not a special destination, that’s what I wonder?