Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The 21st century's "new" ghost towns

In reduced budget circumstances and an unwillingness to increase taxes, some cities and towns are looking at dissolution, such as Uniopolis in Ohio ("State budget cuts hit small-town Ohio: Residents in Uniopolis wanted a balanced budget, and voted in Republican Gov. John Kasich to get the job done. But now the village is facing disincorporation because it can't stay afloat" from the Los Angeles Times) and Youngtown in Greater Phoenix, Arizona ("Youngtown leaders consider disbanding" from the Arizona Republic).

Interestingly, the problem with Youngtown--created to be a retirement community although age-restrictions were eventually overturned--and a deliberate decision to not annex neighboring lands to add to the tax base eventually leaving the town landlocked, is demographic in part, and a problem shared with many other "suburbs" who find that a significant number of households are aging out, and there aren't hordes of new households willing to buy in to traditional subdivisions.

Relatedly, the number of California cities declaring bankruptcy ("Stockton might file for bankruptcy to fix troubled finances" from the Los Angeles Times) is another indicator of the impact of property tax restriction initiatives, like Proposition 13. Eventually, as the ability to develop new property and raise tax revenues peters out, costs exceed revenues.

Relatedly/2, more municipal governments are contracting out services. Just like Youngtown, Arizona is dissolving its police department in favor of service from the Maricopa County, the City of Santa Ana in Orange County, California is now going to receive its services from the County Fire Agency. See "Santa Ana disbands Fire Department in bid to rescue budget" from the Los Angeles Times.

These are indicators...

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