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4293Tactics and economics (was: Carfree and Free Minded)

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  • turpin
    Feb 4, 2002
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      --- In carfree_cities@y..., "michelle@g..." <michelle@g...> wrote:
      > Exactly! Let's do it! But how does one go about it? City
      > council meetings? Letters to congresspeople? Let's come up
      > with some ideas!

      I think the most important strategy is to expose and curtail
      the existing subsidies for sprawl. Most people do not realize
      the extent of these subsidies. Every bedroom community places
      a large cost on the city where its residents work, directly
      for roads and utilities, and also indirectly, in the cost
      of police, courts, and medical services to clean up the
      damage of daily commuting. The taxes most states allow
      cities to collect do not correlate with these costs. Most
      cities rely on ad valorum property tax, and because suburban
      land is less valuable than land in the city, outlying
      neighborhoods pay less in tax, despite imposing greater costs
      on the city. Most cities cannot tax at all the bedroom
      communities that lie outside their corporate limits.

      As long as the 'burbs are subsidized, they will continue to
      grow. Only changes in state law can redress this
      subsidization.

      Importantly, this is an economic argument. I think the folks
      who talk about urban planning in a way that de-emphasizes
      economics are making a tremendous error. Economics is the
      most important thing we have going for us in discussing
      these issues. It is the ONLY way that our concerns are
      anything more than the special desires of a minority. When
      people say "we want to de-emphasize economics," much of
      they're audience rightly wonders: Why do they want someone
      else to pay for what they want? And there is no need for
      this. The economics of these issues are largely on our
      side. Right now, EVERYONE subsidizes sprawl. The costs,
      direct and indirect, are LARGE. What we need to do is point
      that out, and argue for an end to a form of subsidy that
      has no rhyme or reason.
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