Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Boomers and Zoomers and Goobers, Oh My!

I am not a boomer, so please don’t call me one. The only time I boom is if I have too many beans and starchy food and we don’t talk much about that. My son now he’s a boomer, even though Generation X, because everything he touches goes boom – but that’s a different story.

Worse yet, please don’t call be a “zoomer.” I drive like a farmer, thank you. I suppose the term is supposed refer to a Baby Boomer from the 1950’s who gathers income so fast they zoom up the economic ladder. What can I say - I have two kids in their early 20’s so we simply don’t zoom to our full potential.

But guess what, the group think on the Island is that we need more zoomers and boomers. Well that’s what some hired consultants say and is the common wisdom. Personally, I think the consultant had a wee bit too much self-fulfilling zoom in his boom and we got some really bad advice.

The early inhabitants of this Island came here because it was one heck of a getaway from mainland life and some simply never left. They were a healthy mixture of surfers, artists, business people, and the retired or semi-retired. It was funky and laid back. If you lived here you learned how to make your money in the summer, capitalize on some Winter Texans and maybe Spring Break, and make the money last all year. Some painted, built sand castles, rented surf boards, wrote newspaper articles, worked charter boats, built houses and docks, bought and sold real estate, and worked in the entertainment joints. A few became “millionaires with no cash” but that doesn’t sound very zoomy-boomy to me.

I know, the consultant (TIP Strategies) was talking about a demographic thing but I am concerned about marketing to the McMansion condo type – people who never live here and don’t care about the Island except what they can get out of it. At the end of the day, we want just some regular nice, cool, laid back people to live here year round and I don’t care how old they are or how much they’re worth.


Anonymous said...

Find a copy of the TIP recommendations and you will see their number one recommendation was to increase full time residents.
Part timers and zoomers were part of the mix, but "residents", particularly retirees, are people who live here, care, get involved and spend the money they made somewhere else here in our economy.
They don't depend on the local economy for income they only add to it.
For every one of those people who move here TIP claims they are equal to 3 employed workers.
I think they are equal to more than that because the average wage on the Island is pathetically low.
We don't need thousands of them, but if we added 20 or 30 retired couples a year in a short time they would have an impact.
You will also find in the TIP study that while the valley will grow tremendously the wages the valley pays, even at the highest levels, will not qualify those people for second homes on the Island.
If we spend our money recruiting both tourists and retired residents the building to house them will be controlled by the market place. If we allow uncontrolled build in hopes of filling the space with investors and "the rental pool" we will see more and more businesses leave because they have no steady customers.
To people who have spent time in other parts of the country it is economics 101. To those who have not it is very threatening.
If we keep doing what we are doing the Island will become street after street of empty expensive properties owned by very wealthy people who add little to the local economy.

Sam said...

Thanks for the comment. Most of the TIPS report is actually well done except for a few things like the term "zoomers" caused me some ire. So I guess you agree that we need more permanent residents of any kind, preferably well off financially. But may I ask, if you're going to qualify for a house or condo in the $350K to $550K range, wouldn't you need to have a bunch of wealth already?

So I think we are on common ground except that the problem is really that 20 to 30 people leave the Island every year, so the 20 to 30 newbie residents don't seem to count as much. Why are Islanders leaving? Answering that question is probably more important than creating inducements for new residents. /sam

Anonymous said...

Like economics 101, marketing 101 says if you have a product or service that isn't selling you need to change it or improve it.
The Island needs to continue to change its look, its appeal to tourists (offer them activities and options that make them want to come here)and develop a sense of community that encourages residents to get involved, not leave.
Your comment about qualifying for $350 to 500K homes is exactly why I say we should cater to retirees.
They don't need to qualify, they have the cash to buy those homes.

Sam said...

Call them retirees they're some of the most active people I've ever seen, like surfing, wind boarding, walking, gardening, swimming, and doing all kinds of things. They make me look like a couch potato! And did they really stop working? I think they have investments, land, business interests, stocks, bonds, and all kinds of stuff. Many are my friends. I've been impressed by the crop of "retirees" down here except for the occasional Grump.

Anonymous said...

There is undeniable proof within 15 miles of the Island that you can market to a demographic group of people and get hundreds of them to move to South Texas.
The proof is called South Padre Island Golf Course.
The Landmark Land company is one of the most successful companies in the world at developing communities from nothing.
They are willing to work with us and could, in a very short period of time, help us attract residents and quality development.
Unfortunately the power in this community won't listen to the people who achieve and win.
For a price they can tell us exactly what to do. But through out history we refuse to listen to people like that. We pay the price and then ignore their advice. That class is called "community development 101" and no one locally has ever taken the class...

Sam said...

Actually, Cate Ball is a registered planner, and I had to take many of the classes you mention for my Masters of Applied Geography (SWTSU 1997). I have also taken "shit systems 101," municipal solid waste planning, and did my directed research (like a thesis) on urban transportation, mobility, and air quality emissions. Not being defensive but there are several folks who know what they're doing here.

Anyway, Cate is very good but because she ends up with so many secretarial duties, is not used to her best potential. I think she would benefit by having an assistant, and maybe she won't quit and run off to the Rockies as she has mentioned before. That would be a true shame.

Me? I'm a hired gun with an exclusive agreement on maritime ship and port planning and emissions, but I guess one could hire me for $125 an hour. Of course, my ethics would prevent me from discussing any business matters in a blog like this, where I am free to BS and opinionate all I want ...

Thanks again for the comments. Landmark IS well known and maybe that can be brought up sometime in a regulatory context. Not a bad idea!


Beerman said...

Glad you mentioned the Golf Course. The way lots are increasing in value up north we could possibly sell ours for the price of a home in Laguna Vista and invest the 250K we hope to sell our present home for instead of sinking it into an Island home. Don't get me wrong, we want to semi-retire close to the beach, but with a new causeway, a 30 minute or less drive saves 250K???

Sam said...

Hey Beerman - and there's some simple economics for you. Lots of people have bought land up by Bayview simply because it's a better value. You get more land and more house for the money. Getting a boat into the water can actually be easier. People don't live on top of each other like SPI, and gosh knows places like Bayview don't have those pesky Spring Breakers or loud motorcycles (THEY'RE HERE CAN YOU HEAR ME).

On the other hand, when you move into Laguna Vista or Bayview, it's just not SPI. Local taxes in Laguna Vista are astronomical due to poor budget planning (watch that one Beerman). There is absolutely nothing in Bayview, not even rating a convenience store. The Arroyo Colorado is polluted as heck, as well (recently made the annual "most polluted" list again).

So there are pros and cons as usual, and it depends on what you value the most. If driving over the Causeway doesn't give you goose bumps of excitement, I'd say head inland.