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Using Value Capture to Finance Infrastructure and Encourage Compact Development

Transportation investments often increase nearby land values. This can choke off development, pushing new growth to cheaper sites remote from these investments. This “leapfrog” development creates a demand for infrastructure extension that starts the process over again. Transportation infrastructure, intended to facilitate development, thus chases it away. Resulting sprawl strains the transportation, fiscal, and environmental systems upon which communities rely.

Several jurisdictions around the country utilize a value-capture technique embedded in their property tax to help finance infrastructure and motivate affordable compact development. They reduce the tax rate on assessed building values and increase the tax rate on assessed land values. The resulting compact development should facilitate better transportation and accommodate economic growth with reduced fiscal and environmental costs. This technique’s ability to foster affordable compact development might help bridge the gap between those who advocate growth boundaries and those who fear the impact of growth boundaries on affordable housing.