Fairness, Equity, and a Level Playing Field: Development Goals for the Resilient City
28 Pages Posted: 24 May 2014
Date Written: May 22, 2014
In the wake of the Great Recession and in the midst of a political climate that endorses the devolution of governmental power to more localized levels there has been a resurgence in recent years of the idea of the city as the center of American life. Competition between cities in capturing economic development projects has become palpable. Success can lead to job creation and growth, private investment, and, importantly, increased tax revenues. Cities often compete with one another by each offering their own package of public incentives. In the waning hours of negotiations hundreds of millions of public dollars can be promised in order to obtain the ultimate prize.
In view of this intense competition cities must be prudent when competing for and championing private projects that are clothed with the mantle of economic development. An unbridled desire for growth can lead to the support of projects that inure to the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. This Article posits that a truly resilient city is one that places equity and fairness at the forefront of its economic development decision-making by creating a level playing field where equal economic opportunity is the centerpiece. And in those cases where it is decided that public resources should be accorded to the benefit of a particular private interest for the greater good, the process from which these decisions ultimately derive must be considered, sober, tempered, and informed. In adopting such a policy view new developments and physical systems, so essential to a city’s success, will be rooted in a philosophy that not only engenders a business climate of opportunity and equality, but also lays an economic foundation for the city to weather future economic storms.
Keywords: property law, land use, special districts, property taxes, local government, economic development, real estate, competition, municipality, resilient city, resiliency, great recession, PILOT, payment in lieu of taxes, tax increment financing districts, public incentives, public private partnerships
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