I am writing in response to the "Point of View" piece by Douglas Stark in the June 6 issue of the Homer News concerning the need for more economic development in the Homer area. I think the people of Homer and the surrounding areas need to draw a distinction between economic development and economic benefit.
In the past 30 years this area has been predominately supported by the destruction of its natural resource base. We have raw logs being shipped to foreign countries from the Spit. We have the oil industry drilling in the surrounding waters. We have more and more fishermen who are overcapitalized sharing an ever smaller and smaller catch on a per boat basis which makes it impossible for them all to make a living. All these industries provide jobs, both directly and indirectly, but they bring ever-larger populations to this area that require the government, be it city or borough, to provide infrastructure which we cannot afford. Furthermore, much of the economic benefit from these activities does not benefit people in the local area, so the economic advantage to our area, given the current system, is limited.
So, what do we have? Larger populations living in the Homer area on ever-smaller lots creating a demand for more and more services that the city or borough cannot afford. Is this what really will set this area apart from other areas and attract economic growth for the long term? No. People will pay premium prices for areas with natural beauty (land, water, trees, etc.) if left undeveloped. Government needs to promote larger lot sizes and conservation of our resources. This will create less demand for government services and provide a more stable economy.
We must realize that rapid development does not necessarily mean you have improved the quality of life for those living in the area.