17 Ideas to Help Your City

next-urban-renassianceLast year the Manhattan Institute commissioned several leading academics including Harvard’s Ed Glaeser and NYU’s Ingrid Gould Ellen to make the case for policy ideas to move cities forward in the 21st century. The result is 17 ideas tangible ways to make a difference, across a range of domains from Pre-K to Entrepreneurship Zones.  These have now been published in our free book The Next Urban Renaissance, which is available to download for free.

Among the ideas:

  1. Reduce or eliminate parking requirements for new development. This is one many of us are already on board with, but too few places have engaged with seriously. As Ingrid Gould Ellen writes, “Significantly, these [requirement minimum parking] costs are passed on to all city residents, not just car owners. Even apartment dwellers without cars are effectively forced to pay for the cost of a parking space because the cost of parking provi- sion makes development more expensive. There is no way for residents to reduce what they pay for parking by driving less or owning fewer cars. Their only option is to move to another jurisdiction that does not have binding requirements.”
  2. Implement a split-rate property tax with a higher tax on land than improvements. The land value tax was originally popularized by Henry George in the 1800s. Yet despite the fact that, as Ellen notes, “Economists ever since have celebrated the land tax as the most efficient, least distortionary way that governments can raise money,” the land tax remains more admired than tried.
  3. Repeal the “Buy America” Act. UCLA’s Matthew Kahn points out how Buy America punishes transit agencies with inflated costs for buses because of the relatively small size of the US market. “If urban transit agencies could access federal government subsidies without strings attached, they would have a far larger menu of global buses from which to choose. At present, U.S. bus makers are small in scale: the top two, New Flyer and Gillig, sell 1,000–1,500 buses each year in the U.S., where annual sales total 4,000–5,000. Major international bus makers are significantly larger. Germany’s Daimler sells 30,000–40,000 buses and chassis annually, while Swedish-based Volvo sells 10,000. Japan’s top two bus makers, Hino and Fuso, each sell more than 2,000 buses domestically per year (out of the more than 9,000 total sold in Japan). In 2012, China’s largest bus maker, King Long, sold 29,000.”
  4. Create Entrepreneurship Zones in cities with legally mandated one-top permitting within 30 days. Ed Glaeser offers a variety of suggestions for implementing entrepreneurship boosting policy ideas in a smaller scale geographic area then the municipality.
  5. Experiment with short term housing assistance. Back to housing, Ellen suggests cities experiment with focusing more on short term rent assistance towards permanent housing of at-risk families vs. putting them up in homeless shelters after they have no where else to go. She notes, “There has not yet been a rigorous evaluation of the long-term impacts of rapid rehousing programs, and many questions still remain: Will landlords be willing to accept them? How will families manage the transition when the subsidy ends? Will such time-limited subsidies make any meaningful difference in an individual’s long-term well-being? Still, the promise of initial evidence supports further exploration of this approach.”

There are twelve more where those came from, including some contributions from Yours Truly, so download the book to read more.

from The Urbanophile


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