July 16, 2013
For decades, sprawl development has contributed to problems that threaten the well-being of our population, such as declining air quality, oil dependency, climate change and skyrocketing costs of health-care. What has not been recognized, until the current economic crisis, is the damage this type of development has been doing to the municipal bottom line.
To further explore the impacts different types of development have on municipal coffers, CivicWell (formerly the Local Government Commission) partnered with Urban3 and the California Infill Builders Association to evaluate the property tax revenues generated by existing developments in three San Joaquin Valley cities – Modesto, Turlock, and Merced. What was discovered is that compact, mixed-use developments pay better dividends to local governments than low density, suburban development when compared on a basis of tax revenue generated per acre.
This 4-page Valuing Downtowns factsheet (PDF, 656 KB) provides a summary of the work performed in the three San Joaquin Valley communities and describes how other communities can perform similar studies. Two newspaper articles covering the property tax analysis in the San Joaquin Valley are also provided below for download. Understanding the economics of land use decisions and how it affects a local government’s bottom line is an essential conversation for moving boldly forward on creating walkable, transit-friendly communities.