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Thread: Tools to remedy blight

  1. #1
    Member
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    Tools to remedy blight

    I am working on a bligt study for a rural seaside community roughly three hours outside a major urban center. Do any of you know of any precedents making use of regulatory tools (PUDs, TDRs, etc) to promote investment and tax ratable development and market rate housing in this type of community?

    Thanks
    Last edited by SCM; 12 Jul 2004 at 11:01 AM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Look into TIFs.

  3. #3

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    I don't know how New Jersey (I presume that's where) sets it up, but creation of a redevelopment authority is often a first step in being able to use the other tools, including TIF's. But I suspect that since you are asking about regulatory tools, this may already have been done. I would just say that, to start, that none of the regulatory approaches to this problem stand alone very well, and that the local government has to be able to use financial tools in concert with them. It is almost always going to be necessary to use public funds for infrastructure improvements, for example. But the returns can be high. The one I was personally involved took a couple million in local funds (some of which came from grants) but resulted in a huge change in the area, that in turn resulted in new tax revenues from a formerly run down area.

    Having said that, a community can sometimes use regulatory tools and incentives to make re-development happen. It depends on the specifics of the local zoning and the dynamics of the local land market. The examples I have heard about were all tailored quite specifically to the place. If the zoning doesn't allow land to be used intensively, a well-designed density bonus can help, especially if it is coupled with an effort to reduce the red tape and to be flexible (within well-specified bounds) about setbacks, etc. This can usually be accomplished through a well-designed PUD ordinance or amendment.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I do not know what was done, if anything, from a regulatory stand point. But, a few years ago, Suisun City, California, removed the industrial area around its harbor and turned it into a picturesque waterfront, seat of the town's government, and mixed-use commercial and residential district. I live in the town next to it and I have been to Suisun City a few times -- for a meeting in its lovely new government building, to catch a bus to Southern Cali, etc. When I was in the government building about 3 years ago, their redevelopment plan was still underway. They had a model in there, showing the projected appearance of the fully developed plan. As I understand it, Suisun City is a "model" redevelopment story -- i.e. wildly successful. I have seen pictures of what the harbor used to look like and it was disgusting. The transformation is pretty amazing.

    I don't have time to read it, but here is a case study of what they did: http://www.terrain.org/unsprawl/3/


    OT: I attended a workshop last year in which the Mayor of Suisun City said that when they were in the brain storming stage, they would sit around the table tossing ideas out and the engineers would say "Nope, can't do that." After a while, he and a couple of other folks decided that they needed to get the engineers out of there while they dreamed big and call them back in to ask HOW to make their dreams happen.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Lee's comments, as usual, are very good. Successful blight elimination and redevelopment/revitalization requires a combination of approaches - carrots and sticks - including regulatory enforcement, active investment on the part of the community (roads or water mains or parks or police enforcement or land assembly or whatever), good promotion of a workable concept, and technical and financial assistance.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  6. #6

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    I suppose someone should mention that you can use police powers to clean up blighted properties, if you have the political will to do so, and if you are able to avoid the abuse using these tools can sometimes lead to. But most states give municipalities fairly broad powers to designate and remediate nuisances at the owners' expense (collecting may be another matter). My limited experience with this is that getting good projects on the ground as an example is more likely to clean an area up than a nuisance ordinance, but there are certain cases where you have to use the stick instead of the carrot.

    I should have also said that there are cases where the local zoning includes obstacles to re-development. It is not uncommon, for instance, for zoning to prevent mixed-use projects, or to prevent residential development on second floors in a commercial center. An "audit" of the local ordinance would probably be a good exercise.

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