The Perils and Promises of a Popular Yet Controversial Financing Method

[Originally printed in Governing Magazine]

 

Tax increment financing (TIF) is one of the most popular financing techniques in a locality’s toolbox. It’s also one of the most unpopular methods among some policy wonks. Intended to eliminate blight in the poorest neighborhoods, TIF projects are often criticized for funneling money away from core services and to neighborhoods that are neither blighted nor poor. But the problem with TIF isn’t the policy itself. When applied properly, TIF can bring the notions of value capture and financial accountability to public works…[read the rest at Governing]… Read more

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Will San Francisco’s Solar Panel Mandate Increase Housing Costs?

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

San Francisco has some of the nation’s highest housing prices, whether one is looking at median home values or median rents. One reason for this, among many, is the city’s rigorous approval process for new housing projects, which increases costs for developers. On April 19, the city added another layer, mandating that new buildings add solar photovoltaic panels. This will likely further increase said compliance and construction costs, which will then be passed onto consumers…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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A Private Proposal To Solve Chicago’s Freight Rail Bottleneck

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

As the Midwest’s most important economic hub, Chicago is naturally the focal point for much rail traffic. Both Amtrak and Metra, a regional rail transit authority, run through the city, as do six of the nation’s seven largest freight railroads. These trains carry goods between America’s East and West coasts, and between Canada and the U.S. South, with Chicago handling roughly 25% of nationwide rail traffic. This has created massive bottlenecks, with trains sometimes taking days to get through the city. Every level of government—federal, state, regional and local—has tried addressing the problem.… Read more

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San Francisco Seeks Public, Not Private, Solutions To Housing Crisis

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

[Editor’s note: Scott posted this on his blog BigCitySparkplug.com in the Fall of 2012, following a San Francisco ballot measure. In the 3.5 years since, the city’s housing prices have further increased, while the underlying causes described in the article remain unaddressed.]  

San Francisco, CA–Among the propositions passed in San Francisco on Tuesday, ranging from the practical (consolidating elections), to the symbolic (condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s stance on corporate personhood), was one backed by both the city’s moderates and its progressives: Proposition C. … Read more

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The Airbnb Model May Come To Kitchen Rentals

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Charlottesville, VA–The sharing economy, best known for spawning Airbnb and Uber, is encroaching into the world’s kitchens. There are now various services that bring chefs into the private kitchens of eaters, bring eaters into the private kitchens of chefs, or match large groups together for shared meals. This budding industry may soon add a new wrinkle: kitchen rental space for food entrepreneurs. One service, defined as “the Airbnb for kitchens,” is being proposed by an extremely small start-up company called The Kitchen Network…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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The Federal Housing Administration Encourages Sprawl Over Density

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

While some may argue that America is an inherently suburban nation, full of citizens who prefer their own homes and yards, they forget that for decades the federal government has favored such sprawl. And no agency has been more complicit in this than the Federal Housing Administration.

In 1934, amid a lagging housing market, the FHA was formed to insure long-term mortgages that required little money down. Over this time, it has favored single-family housing over condos, and the bias prevails today. According to its website, the agency has “insured over 34 million home mortgages and 47,205 multifamily project mortgages since 1934.… Read more

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Houston’s Wealth Drives A Culture Of Philanthropy

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Houston, TX–Long one of America’s largest cities, Houston has recently become one of its most prosperous, driven by growth in the oil, housing, and tech industries. This rising wealth has inspired tremendous philanthropy, changing the city’s external look and its internal functions. According to Charity Navigator, Houston sits near the top among major U.S. metros in total philanthropic assets, percentage of income given to charity, and financial health of its largest charities. In 2015, the organization ranked Houston number one, just ahead of San Diego, in overall philanthropic culture…[read the rest at Forbes]… Read more

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Nola waterfront

America’s Progressive Developers–Sean Cummings and Steve Dumez

[Originally published by Market Urbanism]

 

[part of an MU series on America’s Progressive Developers]

 

New Orleans, LA–In recent decades, many U.S. cities have altered their downtown waterfronts. While proximity to water was what first enabled their industrial growth, this meant that their shorelines were long cut off from the public. Once residential quality of life became more of a factor, cities like Portland, Baltimore, and New York City transformed these spaces into parks and promenades.

But New Orleans has remained behind the curve. The city famously meanders along the Mississippi River in the shape of a crescent, hence its nickname.… Read more

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A Tale Of Two Alcohol Laws: New Orleans and Oklahoma City

[Originally published by Forbes]

 

Oklahoma City, OK–When planning my cross-country trip last year, I knew that my successive months in New Orleans and Oklahoma City would be wildly different. New Orleans, as one friend noted, is a “sorority city” full of drinkers and partiers. Oklahoma City is the capital of one of America’s most conservative states, with a culture rooted in work, family and religion. And these differences are embodied in both states’ alcohol laws. Louisiana–particularly New Orleans–has some of America’s loosest laws, and Oklahoma some of the strictest.… Read more

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