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Policy Solutions

There are many instances where taxes, fees, regulations or infrastructure investments can be restructured to be more supportive of job creation, affordable housing, energy conservation, efficient transportation, livable communities and sustainable development.

We often think that congestion is a function of how many people are moving along a given stretch of road at a given time. While the number of people on the road does matter, it often provides little information about congestion unless we know what mode of transportation they are using. Click here to download.

Some communities make curbside parking very cheap because they want to promote downtown retail. But if parking is too cheap, it encourages so much driving that many find no parking available when they arrive. These folks get discouraged and don't come back.

Basing parking fees on the level of demand would encourage more transit use, more parking turnover and help ensure parking availability for those who drive.

In other words, more effective parking pricing can increase the number of people who access downtown (utilizing all modes of transportation), increase downtown shopping (and the employment that this requires) while reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

This article from the American Public Transit Association newsletter discusses an agreement between a private landowner and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to build a new subway station in Northern Virginia. Commentary after the article discusses how a local zoning decision thwarted this commitment. Click here to download.

This two-page article describes how the traditional property tax discourages property improvement and maintenance while rewarding speculation.In effect, the traditional property tax reduces the quantity and quality of residential and commercial space, inflating housing costs and creating hurdles for small business success.

A relatively simple change to the tax can promote more affordable housing and job creation without diminishing tax revenues. Additionally, the incentives associated with a reformed property tax promote smart growth and discourage sprawl. Click here to download.

Taxpayers want to know how tax reform will affect them. Prior to founding Just Economics LLC, Rick Rybeck performed “what-if” analyses using actual assessment data to compare the impacts of the current tax structure with alternatives. Alternatives are compared by total revenue generation and by typical tax burden for different property types (residential, commercial, vacant) citywide and by neighborhood. Click here to download.

ABSTRACT: Transportation investments often increase nearby land values. This can choke off development, pushing new growth to cheaper sites remote from these investments. This "leapfrog" development creates a demand for infrastructure extension that starts the process over again. Transportation infrastructure, intended to facilitate development, thus chases it away. Resulting sprawl strains the transportation, fiscal, and environmental systems upon which communities rely. Several jurisdictions around the country utilize a value-capture technique embedded in their property tax to help finance infrastructure and motivate affordable compact development. They reduce the tax rate on assessed building values and increase the tax rate on assessed land values. The resulting compact development facilitates better transportation and accommodates economic growth with reduced fiscal and environmental costs. This technique’s ability to foster affordable compact development helps bridge the gap between those who advocate growth boundaries and those who fear the impact of growth boundaries on affordable housing.

PUBLIC WORKS MANAGEMENT & POLICY, Vol. 8 No. 4, April 2004 249-260, DOI: 10.1177/1087724X03262828, © 2004 Sage Publications. http://pwm.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/8/4/249

Using Value Capture to Transform the Property Tax into a Public Services Access Fee

Just Economics, the Center for the Study of Economics and others partnered with the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE, but now known as the State Innovation Exchange, SiX) to draft model legislation that would authorize and implement a property tax reform whereby the tax rate on assessed building values would be reduced and the tax rate on assessed land values would be increased. Authorizing legislation is intended for state legislatures and the implementation ordinance is intended for local governments, although each state and locality must adopt this model to its own circumstances and legal framework.

Car sharing isn't for everyone, or even every neighborhood. But where parking congestion is an issue AND many residents routinely use transit, walking or biking for most of their trips, car sharing can relieve both parking and traffic congestion, while enhancing mobility for transit-dependent populations. Just Economics, LLC is familiar with the regulatory and contractual documents (and the public participation process) necessary to enhance the success of car sharing in such neighborhoods. Click here to download.

This literature review, written for The Brookings Institution, discusses the theory of road use pricing as a technique for reducing congestion. It also reviews the literature about public opposition to and support for road use pricing measures where they have been attempted or implemented. Click here to download.

The executive summary and table of contents are provided from an extensive report written in 1982 regarding causes and solutions to inflation in housing costs. Much of the analysis and many of the proposed reforms remain relevant today. Click here to download.