Let's see........thus far we have 1) lopped the top off a mesa in order to build a complex in order to flatten another complex in order to build a shopping complex which may or may not get built and won't survive in any event; 2) flattened a historic landmark in order to put up an office building elsewhere which won't generate a dime on its own in order to create a "synergy" which is an illusion in order to "revitalize" a central downtown core which never existed in order to fullfill a Myopia Statement; 3) flattened affordable housing in order to accomplish (2) above in order to bring more workers closer to the non-existant downtown central core in order to support the shopping center in (1) above in order to build more affordable housing for the non-existant employees of same; 4) have plans to flatten the high school and replace it with something that looks very different in order to have something very different that doesn't look like it was built during the hated 50's and 60's in order to attract people who won't care and alienate people who do care; 5) ditto one of the last 2 remaining elementary schools.
Oh, and we have a new Economic Mortality Plan.
What results can we expect?
1) It is believed that Trinity will be successful because if not no developer would risk the investment. Reality Check: the developer won't be paying the rents and trying to sell goods and services. In the first 5 years, the center will do reasonably well simply because of the novelty -- this is the period in which the developer will see the highest return to investment and probably make back the intial expenditure. Over the next few years the novelty will wear off as people begin to figure out that the problem of functional demand - which is the minimum amount of demand required to have anything in supply at all - is still unresolved. They will still find that what they want is not available and they will still continue to shop off The Hill. As a result, the businesses paying the rents to the developer will begin to see sales decline and some will go out of business. These latter may be replaced by other businesses but over time businesses looking at the track record will be less likely to invest in a business in Los Alamos creating a increasing vacancy rate in the center which will further deter new businesses. During this period the profits to the developer will begin to slow, then level off, then decline into net loss. For a time the net loss will be made up for by the tax write off on the net loss until such time as the net loss is greater than the write off. That's when the developer will bail. Estimated time of total failure: 15 years.
2) It is believed that a Big Box will bring to Los Alamos many of the goods and services that are currently not available. Reality Check: Most Big Boxes will avoid Los Alamos like the plague; several have already said they will not be locating here. IF we can sucker a Big Box into coming to Los Alamos, the dynamics described in (1) above will take sway. The store will carry only what it can reasonably sell in a reasonable period of time (for perishables this is a quick turn-around) and people will still find they can't get what they wanted and expected. The continued consumer flight will reduce the size of the Big Box to a Small Box with marginal profits. The next time the national economy goes south, the under-producing Small Box will close. Estimated time of total failure: 10 years (the national economy seems to hit a serious recession every 10 years -- perhaps this has to do with solar flares).
3) It has been suggested that we can put a hotel/convention center on Central next to the Bank. Reality Check: the tourist sector of our economy is a trickle. Turning Los Alamos into a National Park won't boost this significantly enough to support the suggested development plus the new hotel at Entrada plus the hotel on Trinity. Well, maybe we can convert the thing into that affordable housing. Estimated time of failure: 5 years after opening.
4) It has been suggested that putting a Municipal Office Building on Central will increase economic activity. Reality Check: A Municipal Office Building doesn't earn a dime. A Municipal Office Building does not attract customers to surrounding businesses who otherwise wouldn't patronize those businesses -- this is particularly true in a small town. A Municipal Office Building retires otherwise potentially economically productive land resources from economic activity resulting in a net long-term (life of the building) loss in real and opportunity cost. Estimated time of failure: 30 seconds -- Estimated time for anyone to notice: 2 years or Never.
5) It has been suggested that by changing the "look" of Los Alamos to something "modern" and "not 50's and 60's" more people will move to Los Alamos thereby increasing local shopping and increasing local property and GRT revenues. Reality Check: You can't live in Los Alamos if you can't make a living here. Doesn't matter how pretty it is. Estimated time of policy failure: DOA.
6) It has been said that the Lab will essentially pay for all of the above. Reality Check: (and you ain't gonna like this one): The primary reason the Lab is located here is the level of security that geographic isolation provides to a nuclear weapons Lab. As nuclear weapons stocks continue to be negotiated downward and other really effective ways of killing people make nuclear weapons increasingly obsolete, the weapons component of Lab work will diminish. Non-weapons work can be done anywhere, and this will not escape the notice of Congressional types who would like to get a science plum for their district. Though the Lab is unlikely to close it will downsize. Estimated time: 10 - 15 years, depending entirely on Congress and The White House.
Note that the estimated time of failure for the entire Mortality Plan is just long enough for the people who most support the Mortality Plan to empty the nest, retire, and go elsewhere leaving those who are stupid enough to stay to clean up the mess. And the mess will be enormous with a staggering debt load in the 10 digit range. Revenues to County may spike in the short-term but over the 20 year period of the debt those revenues are likely to decrease. The County may well default at which time the State will have to take over (I've seen this happen elsewhere). In a somewhat extreme scenario, as part of a debt re-structuring, Los Alamos County may well be folded into Santa Fe County which has the economic where-withall to begin to pay some portion of that debt. Alternatively, the Federal Government might well be forced to take over the recievership and Los Alamos could once again become the Federal Preserve it once was.
Ultimate Reality Check: After all the Change what will have fundamentally changed will be Nothing.
Happily, there is an Alternative...........................