The city pours tax dollars into building, supporting and providing services for major private developments such as hotels, office parks, sports stadiums, upscale residential complexes and retail outlets. Developers make huge profits, but results for the community are mixed:
1. Most jobs created are lower-wage, with few benefits and no career path.
2. Development raises land costs, so everyone has to pay more for real estate. As a result, small businesses close and working families have to move farther out or away to other cities.
3. The city’s tax base diminishes as the middle-class shrinks. This counteracts the development’s addition to the tax base, which is usually the main reason the city wants development.
4. Quality of life goes down. For instance:
- Longer commutes lead to more traffic congestion.
- Lower pay means people have to work longer hours, have less time with their children.
- Public services are spread thin.
- The city’s crumbling infrastructure is further stressed.
Every development project offers policy-makers a choice: the development can benefit or burden community residents and taxpayers.
How can development be made responsible?
Local governments can require “Community Benefits” from developers, such as:
- Creation of living wage jobs
- Guarantees of health care benefits for employees
- Construction of affordable housing
- Donations to community services
- Commitments to open space and parks