Editorial: Home building permits should come with expectations

08/05/2014 3:28 PM

08/05/2014 3:28 PM

The most recent survey by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City brought the good news that permits issued for new single-family home construction reached their highest level in June since 2007, the year the housing bubble popped.

Not surprisingly, Johnson County led the way, with 139 of a total 359 permits issued in the metropolitan area. Olathe was tops with 34 permits, followed by Overland Park with 26, Lenexa with 24 and Shawnee with 21.

Housing construction means jobs and signals a sense of dynamism in communities. With the numbers on the upswing, it may be time to ratchet up the conversation about how best to take advantage of the revived interest from homebuilders, some of whom are migrating from downtown or more urban settings.

Neighborhoods work best when they are walkable, with amenities such as trails and places where people can gather. Johnson County has been a leader in providing those attractions and must find a way to continue even in the face of budget constraints. Residents and newcomers expect it.

Libraries and community centers will help provide a sense of place. And of course — are you listening, Kansas Legislature? — the county’s continued prosperity hinges on providing an excellent education in the public schools.

The forced austerity of the last few years should also lead to smarter home building. The 4,000-square-foot home with four garages and an indoor pool didn’t exactly command the market once the Great Recession hit. Many an overbuilt, overmortgaged homeowner took a huge loss. Let’s hope that consumers and lenders both have learned from the experience.

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