My city (fast-growing 17,000-resident [1,250 as of the 2000 Census] fringe suburb [not quite exurb]) is currently putting together a Unified Development Code. A part of the UDC is increasing the standards for residential development. We've had a lot of lower and middle-end single family residential development, and we're trying to incorporate housing types that allow for complete socio-economic mobility within town. We need affordable, multifamily, and upscale housing options, but it is imperative that they are all of a higher design standards than our current development, so we've addressed this issue and the rest of city staff (including the City Manager's office) is supportive of these increases in standards. The local homebuilder's association threw a fit with arguments they viewed as not matching their market projections, such as: "Y'all aren't [insert upscale community here] or [central metro city]... y'all are just [our city]. [Our city] doesn't deserve higher quality residential development", despite our design workshops and charrettes that show residents desire it.
Today, we began discussing applying similar higher standards for commercial development. Planning staff wanted to apply similar higher standards for design and construction as we did for residential to ensure quality development from the get-go. The City Manager's office was adamantly opposed to this. They were okay with increasing standards slightly but not trying to get a fully sustainable and reusable product from the get-go. Rather, the City Manager said that the community doesn't care about what certain commercial endeavors seen as amenities look like at this point, they just want them present in the city limits. According to the City Manager, we can address higher standards in 15-20 years (basically after most of the city is built out and then we'll have to constantly address inner blight and redevelopment). I realize this is a pretty standard economic development vs. planning argument. But the City Manager began using arguments similar to the local HBA's arguments against our increased residential standards against our increased commercial standards. He also began using arguments about decreased potential sales tax and that we're in competition with surrounding cities for development. We acknowledged both of these as short-term issues, and cited examples of other cities who have and have not done similar issues in the region and state. Generalized outcomes have been that cities that adopt stricter commercial standards from the outset might have problems with development bypassing them for surrounding cities, and then when the demographics are there, higher quality development [side note - higher quality does not necessarily equal high-end] comes in while surrounding cities who "won" the competition for low-end development were struggling with the new competition to meet the new demographics. Cities that did what the City Manager advocated wound up with blight in the center parts of town (perhaps not downtown), and the nicer development was forced to the periphery of the city limits or surrounding cities where demographics and standards of living are higher.
Anyway, after all of this background, I have a question for Texas planners: is there a provision in state law that prevents cities from using the possibility of increased sales taxes (this was the language used, not increasing economic diversity, etc) into City coffers as a basis for policy decisions?