Mayoral Task Force on Energy Is Off Base

RECEIVED Thu., May 1, 2008

Dear Editor,
    A mayoral task force is studying how the private and public sector can use less energy partly through mandating (stick approach) existing structures conform to a standard of acceptability at the point of sale. It is circulated that this kind of requirement may cost from $1,500 to $15,000. This mandate puts substantial, additional burden on the property sale – another dilatory effect on Austin’s housing market. This adverse impact of required inspections and upgrades will be huge in terms of not only cost but also delay of sales transactions due to a third party (city) meddling in sales in which they currently have no standing and should never have a standing, unless they want to condemn property under eminent domain, pay the fair market value, and then do whatever they please to upgrade it for "the public good." In other words, such an ordinance is simply a piecemeal way of confiscating private property without recompense to the injured/losing party. This proposed energy-saving ordinance is supposedly geared toward federal funding. Instead of forcing behavior, how about offering incentives to energy consumers to limit their use? This carrot approach involving the user’s pocketbook should get immediate results, since money can be saved. Among the intelligent, economy-minded Austin citizenry, significant reduction in usage should follow, and it will have been achieved through individual choice, savoring the carrot, rather than by the force of an ordinance, responding to the stick.
    This free society plan for downsizing Austin’s environmental footprint would certainly cost less to administer than the proposed mandatory alternative with its manpower and bureaucracy required.
    This will be a win-win situation: The consumer gets lower energy bills, and Austin gets coveted federal funds. The environment wins, too. Austin could be an example to the nation!
Gary Hoffarth
Austin Advantage, realtor since 1983
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