Report is a projection of growth, not a call to panic
What was your take from the Perryman report authorized by Priority Midland and what does it mean to governing in Midland for the next decade?
The Perryman Report told us two things:
Midland Is Growing Fast: You and I already know this because we live here. This is our home. But did you realize Midland has grown by nearly 30 percent since 2010? Driving down Andrews Highway at 5 p.m. or shopping at H-E-B on Saturday afternoon, we all feel every bit of the growth.
Midland’s Growth Will Continue: Perryman predicts our population could grow by more than 112,169 people by 2030. Can you imagine 112,169 more people impacting our streets, schools, housing market and grocery stores? We must plan for continued growth.
Some of our local systems are already straining at the seams, working to meet demands of a population our city was not built to contain. If Midland experiences even a fraction of the population growth Perryman predicts for the future, we will face staggering deficits in housing, infrastructure, education, health and wellness, and general quality of place – unless we implement strategic action to manage growth.
Our city is filled with wonderfully innovative, philanthropic, hardworking people who have a long history of working together in good times and in bad, to solve the problems that plague us. We strive to be generous and capable, kind and welcoming to newcomers. The problems we currently face are not beyond the capacity of our community to solve.
If I am elected, my focus will be to put a priority on infrastructure and facilitating safe, effective development. Here is what I will do:
1. I will prioritize housing.
We have a lack of housing that is affordable to many Midlanders. This is crippling our ability to hire enough first responders, teachers, nurses and other necessary personnel. The Midland City Council should not get into the housing business – but we can foster a friendly zoning and permitting environment for builders and developers, encouraging supply and demand to impact affordability of housing.
Private industry will always manage finances and growth more efficiently than government. It is the job of local government to work with city engineering, permitting and code enforcement, to streamline and provide the most business-friendly, construction-friendly environment possible.
City Council must work with the other local taxing entities, with the Permian Strategic Partnership and with other businesses and non-profits to find funding and logistical solutions. Establishing a land bank and/or a land trust are only two ideas which can facilitate quick wins of construction on infill land, inside the loop, in existing neighborhoods.
2. I will prioritize infrastructure.
Because of 30 percent population growth in 10 years, combined with oilfield traffic, our roads and infrastructure are already used beyond their maximum capacity. We must work with state, county and local resources to plan and execute infrastructure expansion.
Commodity prices may sky-rocket or they may bust. In either case, the city of Midland can no longer afford to make our decisions based upon a fearful boom/bust mentality. City Council and other local leaders must be just as fiscally responsible in the boom time as we would be in the downturn. We must use increased city revenue in strong economic times to get ahead with roads, infrastructure and planning, so that when we face economic difficulty, we can continue to cover the essentials.
Midland already has a good city plan with the Tall City Tomorrow plan from 2016. We must elect a City Council that can coordinate our local personnel assets, in conjunction with private entities, non-profits and city planners. This coordination will execute our existing road bond well and creatively fund and execute other needed projects, without unnecessary increases in taxes.
When we increase affordable housing and infrastructure, we will also see the schools and health care systems reaping the benefits in hiring and retention. General appearance and quality of place will increase exponentially, with a plan and an eye to the future of Midland.
Perryman’s growth predictions may be accurate … or they may be wrong. By his own admission, it is impossible to fully predict the future. Perryman’s report is thorough and well-considered, filled with the work of many experts in their fields. We would be foolish to ignore it – but we must see it for what it is: a projection of potential growth, not a call to panic.
Midland has what we need to address the problems we face. We must elect a mayor and two city council members who will work hard and think creatively about population growth demands. We can propel Midland into a new era of strength and success…if we work together.