Planning for Failure

Planning for Failure

It’s Not Someone Else’s Problem

With all the planning going on in our communities and the never-ending upgrades within our building codes, comprehensive planning, and a positive outlook for the future, there is one thing a community never plans for… failure. 

We all see it.  We turn our heads and claim the problem belongs to someone else.  We watch “Special Broadcasts” on communities which are crumbling, we witness blocks of cities in ruin and we say to ourselves, “That’s there. It won’t happen in my community.”  But if you look around, it IS in your community; you have just turned your head and imagined it’s someone else’s problem. 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if your community isn’t planning for failure of its neighborhoods, it has also turned its head and claimed “it’s someone else’s problem.” 

With the current budget problems our communities are facing locally as well as across our nation, failed neighborhoods start out simply as deferred maintenance, accumulation of debris, code violations that continue to the point of condemnation, and long-term vacancies.  Soon the community has to step in, boarding up windows and doors to keep vagrants and others from creating additional problems for a decaying neighborhood. 

As the buildings sit idle, deferred maintenance allows water intrusion to enter the building and Mother Nature’s creatures start taking back the elements.  As more buildings join the ranks, people move out and abandon neighborhoods.  All the while, delinquent taxes burden a community that continues to turn their heads and claim – “that’s someone else’s problem.” 

The failure of a community starts as the urban development circle expands around a community. Buildings, utilities and neighborhood infrastructure fail.  It’s someone else’s problem.  Diminished property values, delinquent taxes, code violation fines, collection judgments and IRS liens are just a few of the problems that need to be rectified in order for a community to re-establish its plan for future success. 

For successful communities to grow, they must face the failure of the nearby communities that in crisis.  They have to establish boards and volunteer efforts from within surrounding communities in order to re-develop those neighborhoods.  Areas of redevelopment will have to include financial plans; demolition of existing structures; and remediation of lead, asbestos, chemical contamination and soils as necessary.  They must remove antiquated buried utilities, install modern horizontal development, and adapt the neighborhoods to the current local comprehensive plan and building codes. 

Communities must establish incentives for developers to invest in these neighborhood, but this can only take place if a they step up to rebuild their community and not turn their heads and claim, “it’s someone else’s problem.” 

Planning for failure is planning for the future; we can’t close our eyes or turn our heads away any longer.  Take pride in your community, get involved and stop making excuses for its problems. Take personal responsibility for the future of our communities; don’t expect those we elect to represent us to do it all.  By planning for failure, we actually plan for success… get involved, because the success or failure of your community does depend on you.  It is your problem!  

Terry Martin-Back is a Broker Associate and Co-owner with his wife Debra of Exit Realty Producers of Gainesville Florida. He is a Certified General Contractor, 20-year military veteran and combat veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He was appointed to the Alachua County Codes Enforcement Board and the Alachua County Veterans Advisory Board by the Alachua County Commission. Terry was a Congressional Candidate for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District during the 2010 election.

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