subsidized sprawl

This post from CEOs for Cities about Ford Foundation via Good Jobs, reveals that tax breaks are causing sprawl which is costly.  Consider that, besides the loss of tax money and the inequities mentioned, the costs of expanding outside of the city, when taken per capita, are hugely more than the cost of sustaining someone who lives urbanly.  Roads, utility grids, energy, social services etc all subsidized in a vast environment with few people where money simply cannot and will not go as far.

Consider too, this report says that the Ohio policy failure is contemporary; it almost implies that the policy is an anomaly in American life.  But it’s not; the public money subsidies of exurban development have been policy for the better part of a century in America and have directly caused the evacuation and implosion of our city cores.

This conversation, which is currently gaining traction in the public arena, is incomplete without mention of inner city land regulation and costs.  If we are to return to our abandoned city cores to rebuild them, city codes and land and development costs need to be competitive.  One way to do this would be to reassign the property tax breaks being given to fleeing companies to companies who stay downtown.

From CEOs for Cities:

“Paid to Sprawl: Subsidized Job Flight from Cleveland and Cincinnati,” a recently released studyby Good Jobs and funded by the Ford Foundation, revealed some unsettling truths about the implications of business relocation subsidies in Ohio. The study shows that property tax breaks given to companies to relocate within Cleveland and Cincinnati are encouraging suburban sprawl. By dispersing jobs away from the urban core, the subsidies are, in effect, worsening wealth inequalities and decreasing employment opportunities. The study suggests that a combination of cooperation between local officials, anti-poaching policies, and regional transparency should be used to combat subsidized sprawl and to encourage economic development within the urban core.

Stopping Subsidized Sprawl, CEOs for Cities


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