Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Corzine Says Invest Near Transit

This is a lot of money and the idea relates to all the subsidies that Austin has been giving to companies to locate there (ie. The Domain and Samsung). The Governor of New Jersey has decided that it's worth it to incentivize companies to locate near transit. I 'm wondering if there is a better way than just throwing money at the problem he is trying to address but he's got the right idea with locating near transit.

In the final days of the lame-duck legislative session, Gov. Jon Corzine is pushing a bill to give tax credits of up to $75 million to companies that build or lease offices in urban centers within a half-mile of a transit station.

The measure to create "urban transit hubs" will have simultaneous hearings today in the Senate Budget and Assembly Appropriations committees. The seven-page bill, introduced two weeks ago, is expected to be voted on in both chambers Monday, the last day of the session.

"We're excited about the concept and we're really looking forward to answering questions the Senate and Assembly might have about it," said Gary Rose, chief of the Governor's Office of Economic Growth.

The bill is meant to expand on the idea of transit villages -- initiatives to curb urban sprawl by encouraging residential development in urban areas near mass transit -- and apply it to the corporate world. It would offer tax credits as an inducement to invest in offices in struggling cities rather than far-flung suburbs.

The Sierra Club isn't so happy with the idea and we always see folks that are skeptical of tax credits. Perhaps if the suburbs had to pay their fair share of infrastructure instead of the usual road freeloading, we wouldn't need incentives to lure companies to cities or to build more urban headquarters.

5 comments:

kenf said...

What is the Sierra Club complaining about this time?

rg said...

I'm not sure what is the deal with the NJ Sierra Club. First they oppose restoration of passenger rail service on the Lackawanna Cutoff and now this? For what it's worth, Sierra Club is divided into chapters and not all chapters are so short sighted. In DC, Sierra Club is the lead proponent of rail transit in general and streetcars in particular. See http://www.sierraclub.org/dc/sprawl/dc/dc-streetcars.html. And, coming soon, http://www.dcstreetcars.org.

M1EK said...

The Sierra Club is basically run by no-growthers, and at times struggle with a membership which is split between no-growthers and smart-growthers. We see a lot of this kind of thing in Austin, too (grudging acceptance of downtown density, for instance - some of them just want everybody to live in the woods without even thinking of whether there's enough woods out there).

I, personally, question the environmental friendliness of the typical no-growther who drives a big old pickup truck all around the country anyways. Better to have a yuppie in a condo, I think.

rg said...

Perhaps that is the case iwth Sierra Club in other places, but in DC, Sierra Club is generally on the smart growth side of things and very much pro-transit, which is why I am involved. Apart form the Coaliton for Smarter Growth, which has a regional focus and thus includes the suburbs, there is no other organization advocating for improved (rail)transit in DC. In addition, DC Sierra Club has endorsed "big developer" projects near Metro stations, which has won us the emnity of no-growth types.

In terms of smart growth v. no-growth, what I have seen in DC is that it is generally a generational divide, with younger people appreciating urbanism and "getting it" in terms of transit and higher density and older people opposed to any change whatsoever, especially if it threatens access to plentiful parking. An example: one woman, of the "progressive" 60's generation, complaining to me that if a mixed-use development adjacent to the Takoma Metro Station replaced a parking lot, she, "a big environmentalist," would be forced to drive downtown. Being polite, I did not respond that if she was truly a "big environmentalist," she would not even own a car, especially since she lives in a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood served by multiple bus lines and rail transit.

I agree M1ek re: better a yuppie in an urban condo than an "environmentalist" who loves in "nature" and drives a pickup 50 miles a day.

Richard Layman said...

The better way than incentivizing would be to require accessibility planning (pioneered by the Dutch). 1. Rate all uses for transportation load. 2. Rate all places for the ability to meet transportation load. 3. Only allow uses where transportation load can be met most efficiently.

To do this through incentivizing takes decades and will never result in the optimal condition.

Link land use and transportation planning rather than keep them separate.