Paving Over NIMBYism

by Patrick Appel

Reihan wants NYC to bring down rents by encouraging more construction. He touts the proposals of David Schleicher, “a law professor at George Mason University and a leading expert on the politics of local land-use regulation”:

Opposition to new development, in New York and elsewhere, usually flows from the sense that current residents won’t actually benefit from an influx of new arrivals. The fear is that big new developments will lead to traffic congestion and crowded subways, and much else besides. With this in mind,  Schleicher’s work places heavy emphasis on getting current residents to embrace new development by, in effect, bribing them to get with the program.

In his paper, “City Unplanning,” Schleicher calls for “TILTs,” or tax-increment local transfers. The idea behind TILTs is that because new developments generate new property tax revenue, the city can buy off fretful neighbors by giving them a cut of this revenue. The citywide benefits of new development are thus shared with neighbors to the project, but there are no new taxes on development, so costs don’t rise. And while property tax abatements shrink the tax base, TILTs will spur new construction that will increase the overall property tax pie from which taxes are drawn, even after residents in affected neighborhoods get their cut.