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 Traffic Congestion: Mode Matters.
Performance-Based Parking Rates
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) and increase downtown shopping (and the employment that this requires) while reducing traffic congestion and pollution.
Free Parking Exacerbates Traffic Congestion & Pollution
In some cities, traffic congestion and high parking costs encourage people to use transit. In 1993, a study found that there were at least 37,500 free employment parking spaces being provided by the federal government in Washington, DC. Private firms also provided free parking to employees. These free parking spaces were encouraging more driving, congestion and pollution at a time when the DC area was a non-attainment area for air pollution.
Therefore, Rybeck drafted legislation to impose a $20/month fee on free employment parking spaces. (This was roughly equivalent to what the parking sales tax would generate on a commercial parking space charging the market rate.) This fee would help DC mitigate both the pollution and the congestion caused by cars using these spaces. Also, if the fee were passed onto the users, the parking would no longer be free, and this could encourage some drivers to switch to transit. This legislation was enacted into law but later repealed by Congress because Congress did not want its employees to pay for parking. You can find the Clean Air Compliance Fee Act of 1994 here .
Car sharing isn’t for everyone or even every neighborhood. But where parking congestion is an issue and many residents routinely use transit, walk, or bike for most of their trips, car sharing can relieve both parking and traffic congestion while enhancing mobility for transit-dependent populations. Just Economics 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 Curbside Car Sharing Evaluation.
Public Acceptability of Road-Use Pricing
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 Public Acceptability of Road-Use Pricing.
Private Developer to Fund & Build Transit Station
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 Can Transit Infrastructure Be Self-FInancing?
Tax Reform Scenario Analysis
Taxpayers want to know how tax reform will affect them. Using “what-if” analyses, Rybeck used 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 Tax Reform Scenario Analysis.
Tax Reform Promotes Sustainable Development
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 Tax Reform Motivates Sustainable Development.
Transforming 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 adapt this model to its own circumstances and legal framework.
Using Value Capture to Finance Infrastructure and Encourage Compact Development
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 communities utilize land value return and recycling (embedded in their property tax) to help fund infrastructure and motivate more affordable and sustainable 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. See Using Value Capture to Finance Infrastructure and Encourage Compact Developement.
Meeting America’s Housing Needs
In 1982, Rybeck wrote an extensive report regarding causes and solutions to inflation in housing costs. Although the federal income tax has changed since then, much of the analysis and many of the proposed reforms remain relevant today. Download the executive summary and table of contents from Meeting America's Housing Needs