"Smart Growth" and "New Urbanism" Compared with "Large Lot Zoning" (Tom Lane) [ Home Page – Click Here]

(May 17, 2017) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2017 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.

Oregon Timber Harvest Worst Since Great Depression: Smart Growth To Blame; Eugene Mills In Trouble

Weyerhauser Headquarters, Timber Company, Federal Way, Washington.

The Oregon timber harvest reached its lowest level in 2009, at 2.75 billion board feet, the lowest since the Great Depression, according to the Eugene newspaper article below.

Demand for lumber is down, as new construction has dropped, due to urban growth boundaries, impact fees, and other restrictions.  And, people are not buying homes since they are unemployed, underemployed, or unwilling to take risks.  Furthermore, short sales, foreclosures, and rent to own scenarios all compete with new construction.  As a result of a decline in construction, the price of framing lumber has dropped.

Nationally, housing starts are at record low levels, and low interest rates aren’t helping, since people get great deals from short sales, foreclosures, and cheap rent to own properties in Vegas.

Clearly, the State of Oregon, and other Western states, need to cancel urban growth boundaries and other growth controls, in order to stimulate construction.  This could mix things up in home sales,  and new homes could compete with bank owned properties.

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry:

Harvests on public and private land are at their lowest point since the Great Depression, at 2.75 billion board feet in 2009.

4.5 billion board feet in 1929, at the beginning of the Depression

1.5 billion in 1932, at the Depression’s low point

2.6 billion in 1934, now comparable with the 2009 figures

9.7 billion in 1972, the top harvest historically

5.7 billion in 1981, then called the “timber depression”

2.8 billion in 2009, the lowest harvest since 1934

Overall, Western US lumber mills are running at 55%

of their total capacity.

Remember, there were no impact fees or urban growth boundaries post WWII, as we climbed out of the Great Depression. The middle class that evolved into today’s Baby Boomers were children growing up in places without these restrictions and taxes.  However, for unknown reasons, these baby boomers have turned on the rest of us (including my generations, X and Y), and rebelled at sprwal, and the use of the automobile.  They dislike the American dream that the rest of us treasure.  The Greatest Generation (70’s+) established the American Dream of home ownership on half an acre, with orchards, treehouses, and gardens, by fighting for our country in WWII.

Soon, smart growth will be replaced by another “trend” in urban design, since smart growth has been proven economically inviable by its resulting housing bubble and collapse.  When this happens, construction and timbering will come back, since urban growth boundaries will either be modified or canceled, and homes will probably increase to traditional sizes of post WWII. When this happens is unknown; paradigm shifts take time, since people are usually in denial when large scale “trends” such as “smart growth” fail.

Here is the first in a series of four articles on the timber industry on Sunday August 22, 2010 from the Eugene and Ashland, Oregon papers:

A bitter harvest for wood products

By Diane Dietz

The Eugene Register-Guard, August 22, 2010

To an industry toughened by three decades of hard knocks, this is still a body blow.

The Oregon timber harvest in 2009 was the lowest since the middle of the Great Depression at 2.75 billion board feet, according to a new report by state forest economist Gary Lettman.

And the bad news for the industry doesn’t end.

“The preliminaries I have coming this year show it’s going to be just about the same,” Lettman said.

Mill owners, millworkers and sector analysts say they’re no longer talking about recession in the timber industry. To them, this is a depression.

“It’s very scary,” said Butch Bernhardt, spokesman for the Western Wood Products Association. “This business environment is something most people haven’t seen in their careers. This is not once in a generation. It’s far beyond that. This is, perhaps, once in a century type stuff.”

Oregon is still the biggest timber producer in the country, and Douglas and Lane Counties are still the state’s top producers — and people around here are flummoxed.

“It’s so unprecedented that many people in the industry don’t know how to think about it. They don’t know how to plan. There’s not much certainty in the future,” said Norm Johnson, a forestry professor at Oregon State University.

A cruel twist

At the beginning of 2010, an optimism was washing through the industry.

Hurricane season, an expansion of the Panama Canal and the reconstruction of Chile after a shattering earthquake were all tickling demand.

“We had all this stuff coming together at one time and prices actually started to recover. Not to what they were, but they did recover,” Lettman said.

The Random Lengths framing lumber composite price started the year at $251 per thousand board feet and peaked in April at $367 per thousand board feet, a 46 percent gain.

“I was starting to get jazzed in April. It just seemed like things were, ‘Yeah, we’ve turned the corner. It’s starting to get better,’ ” said Bryce Ward, a senior economist at ECONorthwest who follows the housing market.

“The economy was going to recover, and the housing market was going to recover. People were optimistic that in a year or two we would be out of this funk,” Johnson said.

Enticed by the demand, northwest mills — thrumming with idle capacity — swung into production, Seneca Sawmill Co. General Manager Richard Re said.

But the gears turn too slowly; and they can’t stop quickly enough.

“You can’t say, ‘OK, were going to produce 50 percent more lumber’ and flick a switch. It takes time to crank up that production, to get the logs, to bring on the additional staff,” Bernhardt said. “By the time you do all that, things can go to hell. That’s what happened.”

The price of framing lumber fell 29 percent between April and July, according to Random Lengths. And it continued to slide in August, editor Shawn Church said.

“We’re getting back down to the levels where we started the year, which is in a historical trough,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of optimism for demand looking forward right now. There’s just a lot of uncertainty about the market­place, about housing, about the U.S. economy,” he said.

The spring uptick in demand was a cruel trick, Johnson said, which took its toll on the people working in timber production.

“Now they’re doubly discouraged.”

Whither demand?

This time of year, mills should be hopping, said Robbie Robinson, part owner and CEO at Starfire Lumber Co. in Cottage Grove. “When we had reasonably good markets, this is the time of year we’d run nine hours a day and nine hours every Saturday.”

With favorable interest rates, the housing market should be in high gear, economist Ward said.

“We should be seeing lots of housing demand. A 4 percent mortgage rate? That’s great! People should be saying, ‘Yes let’s go get it,’ ” he said.

But fewer homebuyers are interested in building or buying new when there are so many houses on the market, including short sales and foreclosures at reduced prices.

“There’s a lot of houses that have been taken back because people have been out of work; those houses all need to get sucked up,” Re said.

In monthly annualized projections, builders broke ground nationally at a pace of 679,000 houses in April, 588,000 in May, 537,000 in June and 546,000 in July.

“It used to be that 1 million housing starts was considered a really bad year,” Bernhardt said. “We’re half of that — and we’re going on four years below a million housing starts. We’re talking depression years.

“Unemployment is still high and without jobs — without people feeling confident that they’ll continue having a job — they’re not willing to make a huge investment like a house.”

Lettman, the economist, said he can see no indicator that would suggest a turnaround in residential construction.

Homebuilders’ confidence slumped for a third month in August, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo confidence index. Readings lower than 50 mean that homebuilders rate conditions as poor. August’s reading was 13.

“(This is) equivalent to what was happening in the Depression years,” Bernhardt said. “All the previous recessions, things started to snap back after 24 or 36 months. That doesn’t appear to be the case this time.”

Idled dreams

It’s easy to tell when demand dries up quickly because sawmill yards accumulate great stacks of finished lumber.

“The market is finite,” Re said. “It’s only going to take so much wood. In the big picture, eventually, you’ll run out of places to stack it. That goes for the lumber yards we sell to. They can only take so much wood because carpenters are only buying so much.”

When the lumber is not moving, the mills take downtime, he said.

And mills are in mortal peril when they produce too far ahead of demand, Robinson said.

“You’ve got to be careful with finished inventory because — by that stage of the game — you’ve not only got log costs in it, but also the manufacturing costs and handling costs. You can get a lot of money tied up very quickly. You can run into financial problems.”

Today, western lumber mills are running at 55 percent of their capacity, Bernhardt said. To see what’s happening, compare Oregon’s timber harvests to historical numbers, Lettman said. The cut on public and private lands last year was 2.8 billion board feet, the lowest harvest since 1934 — the middle of the Great Depression.

“And it’s not sustainable at these levels. These people have to make a profit to stay in business — the mill owners and the timberland owners,” Lettman said.

Mill owners are forced to cut costs in reaction to the diminished demand, Robinson said.

“How do you do that? You cut people, you cut hours and you cut wages. You do all the things you’ve got to do — you do that or you won’t be around at all,” he said.

More than 35 percent of the state’s wood products work force has been idled since 2006, said Brian Rooney, regional economist for the state Labor Department. More than 27 percent of the state’s loggers hung up their caulks in that period.

In October, Robinson said, he cut the Starfire Mill work force deeper than he could have imagined, sending away 25 of the plant’s 75 employees.

He reduced operations to four days a week, and he cut the remaining workers’ pay by 10 percent.

“We’re running the sawmill one week, the planer the next week, trying to do everything with the same crew to keep working at all. We didn’t even do that in the ’80s,” Robinson said.

Robinson, who is nearing 50 years in the lumber business, said he’s downright spooked by this economy.

“I’m anxious. Every place you look everybody is reasonably anxious.

“Maybe some of the real rich aren’t real anxious, but for those of us who are part of the common herd who worry about paying light bills and putting food on the table — everybody is anxious.”

Related Stories

Still under construction. Will grab some relevant qoutes from these other three articles tomorrow.

ADD: Great britain cancels smart growth due to problems to section above.

These articles are from the Eugene and Ashland papers –

add: photos, weyerhauser headquarters, federal way wa.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 2010 by in Eugene, Federal Lands, Oregon, Urban Growth Boundaries.


Salt Lake City – Rio Rancho, New Mexico – NO Urban Growth Boundary = AFFORDABLE HOUSING on LARGE LOTS – More Photos Forthcoming

Mysterious Massive Walls and Clearcutting at Issaquah Highlands … vs. Green Neighborhoods in Arizona and Oregon … Click Here …

Durango Smart Growth – La Plata County Comprehensive Plan – Cancelled (Nov. 23, 2011) – CLICK IMAGE for Plan Maps and Photos –

* NEW * October 8, 2011, Seattle – KEMPER FREEMAN VIDEO – If You Drive, Vote YES on I-1125, Kemper Freeman on TV-W w/ Doug MacDonald

Dr. Bill Eager – “End Gridlock Now” – Stop Seattle Gridlock Today

Kemper Freeman Sues a Third Time over Seattle Light Rail – May 9, 2012

SEATTLE – Why Washington’s Anti-Tolling and Anti-Transit Initiative (I-1125) Didn’t Pass (12/6/11) – CLICK IMAGE of the skyline from West Seattle –

* HEY SEATTLE * – VOTE YES on Kemper Freeman’s Initiative I-1125 – Protect Your Gas Taxes and Tolls – Stop Illegal East Link I-90 Light Rail – Stop the Destruction of Downtown Bellevue with an Ugly Transit Oriented Development -CLICK HERE –

Salt Lake City’s Legacy Parkway – A Green Solution for Seattle Gridlock

*CETA* Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives (Seattle) – John Niles – August 22, 2011 Letter to Ray La Hood advocates Bus Rapid Transit on I-90

* SEATTLE DISPLACEMENT COALITION * – John Fox and Carolee Colter – Defending Lower Income Apartment Residents against Greedy Smart Growth Developers and Seattle Politicians – CLICK HERE for web site & columns –

*GREEN ALTERNATIVE * to Smart Growth – *WATCH VIDEO* from Pique Architects – Do They Present Something SIMILAR to the “LANDSCAPE URBANISM” Concept of Harvard’s Dr. Charles Waldheim? Image Source: http://vimeo.com/user4133046/videos – Pique LLC of Bend, Seattle, & Montana –

* SMART GROWTH * – The Wolf at Your Front Door – You Tube – (5 Minutes) – Image Source: http://www.youtube.com/user/regsgridlock –

Stop Obama’s Smart Growth … Preserve Organic Farms and Parks on Acreage … We Have No Choice but to Vote Republican … The Truth from Talk Host Mark Levin … Defending Private Property Rights Every Day – Coast to Coast, 3P-6P, Pacific … CLICK for Free Archives.

%d bloggers like this: