Community

From Hurricanes to The Solar Eclipse - the Economic Impacts of Nature

With the onslaught of hurricanes in the southeastern states and Caribbean, safety is the number one things that comes to people’s minds. After the initial rescue and relief are provided, what about the longer-term need for recovery and rebuilding? Think tanks are providing suggestions, like how to coordinate federal assistance efficiently and how to rebuild in a more resilient way to minimize damage from similar future events.

Estimated total recovery costs for the communities hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria are nearly $300, including direct impacts (like property damage) and secondary impacts (like economic disruption). There is an economic silver lining. Recoveries usually provide a small economic boost as rebuilding efforts create jobs and circulate earnings.

On the positive side - not all natural events are economic disasters. The solar eclipse in August of this year is one such natural event.  I had the opportunity and pleasure to see the total solar eclipse from a little community in Idaho. Small towns located in the eclipse’s path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina prepared for years ahead of time for the tenfold population increases generated by visitors. I witnessed the economic impact of the event as restaurants were packed and even ran out of food and as local entrepreneurs catered to visitors’ needs and desire for memorabilia.

With appropriate planning and coordination, we can maximize the benefits resulting from positive events while minimizing the impacts of disasters.

Written by Dima Galkin, an Associate at RSG

RSG Well Deserved Fun Day

RSG’s commitment to its clients, employees, and local communities is evident daily. The 2016/2017 period has been especially challenging for RSG, given the current difficulties facing California cities and recent changes in legislation, just to name a few. Yet, without skipping a beat, staff continued to hunker down and produce top notch work; meeting deadlines, finding creative solutions for our clients and forging new relationships and service avenues. This dedication did not go unnoticed by the firm’s Partners!   

Recognizing the huge effort by staff to overcome the challenges over the past year, the Partners decided to scrap the already scheduled June All-Company meeting. Instead they treated us to a day of fun on a Duffy Boat out of Newport Harbor, followed by a yummy lunch from The Cannery in Lido Village. Very tre-chic for this group, but that was the best part about it!

Call it a re-boot for the mind, body, and soul, these types of events are relished, cherished, and appreciated! For those of us who joined the work force before the invasion of the “creative work space demanding millennials,” events like this were held only on rare occasions to commemorate extraordinary achievements by companies. However, the owners at RSG are in the trenches every day with us, working alongside us, jumping every obstacle with us. So, it is not a surprise that they felt the need to say thank you in a BIG WAY!

And for this, I personally want to express my gratitude, and let them know that I am thankful every day that I work with such committed and passionate leaders. Leaders who always strive to celebrate and appreciate more than the bottom line. They choose to celebrate and appreciate staff and all their accomplishments-because it is each of these individual accomplishments melded together that make up the RSG Family!  

Written by Business Office Coordinator, Erin Woodmas7.19.17

Proposed Affordable Housing Bills

The affordable housing crisis in California is a well-known fact and over 130 bills have been proposed by State lawmakers to address and hopefully improve one of the State’s most urgent needs.  The link below to a recent Los Angeles Times article provides a brief and basic summary of all proposed bills:
http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-housing-bills-taxes-affordable-20170319-story.html
 

What is the Return on Investment for Infrastructure Improvements?

Infrastructure improvements are a sizable investment of public funds - it makes sense that evaluating the return on investment is a good first step in determining how communities prioritize these funds.   RSG recently completed an economic study assessing the impacts resulting from different rail improvement options along the Carlsbad portion of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) corridor.  This study calculated the economic/fiscal effects of the different options on regional economic output including:

•    Jobs created
•    New development
•    Property values/taxes
•    Sales taxes
•    Value of lives saved/accidents avoided
•    Value of reductions in noise and traffic

RSG’s study is part of an overall Feasibility Study prepared by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).  A link to the City of Carlsbad website that provides an overview of the Study (as well as links to the actual reports) is provided below:
http://www.carlsbadca.gov/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=1321&TargetID=61
 

Written by Hitta Mosesman
 

RSG Principal Hitta Mosesman Featured Speaker at Housing CA Conference (Sacramento) - March 2017

Housing California is the State’s leading housing organization with a mission to educate lawmakers and others on stabilizing housing, creating more housing opportunities, and implementing proven solutions that reduce the number of homeless men, women, and children in communities. The focus of Housing California is Land Use, Budget and Funding, and Homelessness.  The annual 2017 Housing CA conference, with over 1,400 in attendance, was “Block by Block – Improving Neighborhood Health.”   Workshops focused on all aspects of housing and homelessness, including financing, funding sources, policy, advocacy and new and emerging affordable housing solutions.

Hitta Mosesman, partner and principal with nearly 20 years of consulting experience in affordable housing, finance, real estate and community development, was a featured panel speaker on Community Land Trusts (CLTs) as an innovative method of ensuring affordable housing for generations.  The panel included Mark Asturias, Executive Director of the Irvine Community Land Trust (and City of Irvine’s Housing Manager), Jean Diaz, Executive Director of the San Diego Land Trust and Stephen King, Executive Director of the Oakland Land Trust.  The panel’s joint presentation focused on explaining CLT structures and benefits, as well as the different CLT models (home ownership, rental and co-op).  A link to the presentation is provided below.

https://media.wix.com/ugd/209952_d643b5c0976d49508c0e70fc98150613.pdf

 

Build It, and They Will Prosper?

 Copyright 2016 Kelly Wilson, Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Copyright 2016 Kelly Wilson, Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Do sports stadiums generate net economic benefits for the community? 

The consensus is generally no. Economists say that sports teams spur little new spending in the community. 

While stadiums are limited in use, politicians and developers claim that a stadium is a win for local communities. Proponents say that sports facilities improve the local economy by creating construction jobs, generating new spending, attracting tourism and multiplying local income and job creation. Advocates argue that new stadiums spur so much economic growth that subsidies are offset by revenues from ticket taxes, sales taxes, and property tax increases.

These arguments may overstate the benefits of stadiums. Economic growth takes place when a community’s resources become more productive. Increased productivity can arise from economically beneficial specialization by the community or from local value added. Building a stadium is good for the local economy only if it is the most productive way to make capital investments and use its workers.

Still, there are non-economic benefits, such as community pride and cultural activity. Some projects, such as the NFL Rams’ return to Los Angeles, which occurred with limited financial obligations for Los Angeles taxpayers, provide a valuable lesson in how to attract sports teams and new stadiums based on a market’s strength rather than subsidies.

Calculating the economic and fiscal impacts of a development is crucial when deciding on whether or not a project should break ground. RSG has extensive experience in projecting tax revenue from projects and can help determine if a sports stadium or other large municipal investment would be a good idea in your community!

Written by Jeff Khau, a Senior Analyst at RSG

Seeking Greater Housing Affordability

 Copyright American Planning Association Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Copyright American Planning Association
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

A recent Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing article emphasizes the scope of the US housing shortage. According to the article, new residential construction is below its historic average and even Great Recession-era levels.

Currently, much new apartment development aims for the high end of the market to make the financials work for developers. Rising land and labor costs, local regulations and NIMBYism make it even more difficult and expensive to build new housing. 

Many cities are spending precious funds to subsidize rent-restricted units, proving that we as a society care about housing affordability. Maybe we should consider the maxim of “first, do no harm.” How can cities reduce barriers to encourage more housing development, both market-rate and rent-restricted? How can we get community stakeholders to recognize that some development and change is needed to accommodate new residents and maintain affordability for renters? 

We passionately discuss topics like this affecting cities and towns at the RSG office, in search of solutions. Contact us today if you’re looking for such solutions.

Written by Dima Galkin, an Associate at RSG

Summer Festivals: Parties with A Purpose

 

Summer is here and festival season is upon us. Whether it is a community concert series or an event of a larger scale, festivals bring people together. Summer events are a great way for local governments and municipalities to celebrate local culture, spurring short- and long-term investment in an area. Although we may not be the festival’s headliner, RSG can help clients capture the economic and social impact of these summer events to realize opportunities for community development.

Here are a few tips about making your summer event successful:

  • Communicating clearly, getting the word out, making the event a team effort, planning for the unexpected and reining in the budget are helpful in making an event go smoothly, according to Asa Gurden, head of the Scout Association's Scout Activity Centres, as reported in The Guardian.

  • Staying true to organizing principles, spreading the word sensibly and knowing whom you want to attract are tips from Joanne Steele at RuralTourismMarketing.com.

  • Keeping people hydrated, ensuring proper layout, providing activities for all ages, providing safety and security measures and showing appreciation are some important aspects of planning a summer event, according to EventManagerBlog.com. The site lists important “don’ts” like: overserving guest, skimping on restrooms, overscaling events, and not being environmentally sensitive.

Better communities, bolder futures – that is what we do.

Written by Evanne Holloway, a Research Assistant at RSG

Customizing Economic Development

What is the perfect economic development strategy? It depends on the community.

People often describe the economic development strategy of corporate tax breaks and subsidies as an old strategy that fails to work in today’s environment. One of the newer economic development ideas suggests that creating vibrant neighborhoods with many amenities will attract the type of workforce that will in turn bring in established businesses and create new ones.

At RSG we know that there is no silver bullet for any community's or region's economic development. Each effort requires consideration for both a city's individual characteristics and broader trends.

Sometimes an appropriate subsidy can serve as a catalyst to turn a neighborhood or local industry around, especially if it supports a policy goal. Contact us today to learn how we can help you craft and implement the perfect economic development strategy for your town.

Written by Dima Galkin, an Associate at RSG

Dissecting Brown’s Budget

 Image courtesy of http://calbudgetcenter.org/

Image courtesy of http://calbudgetcenter.org/

Governor Brown and the California legislature approved a $122.5 billion budget to fund state operations for 2016-17. The budget allocates $400 million for affordable housing construction, increases preschool/child care funding by $500 million, increases reserves by $2 billion, invests $200 million in college readiness programs, and redirects $2 billion in Proposition 63 mental health funds to provide housing for mentally ill homeless people.


Putting an extra $2 billion into the rainy day fund suggests that state lawmakers are weary about a looming recession. There was a notable focus on alleviating poverty and income inequality in this year’s budget process. Brown and lawmakers failed to agree on a spending plan from the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund, also known as the cap-and-trade fund, and failed to reach a deal on funding to fix crumbling roads and highways, which they have labeled as a top priority for several years.


To learn more about how the state budget impacts your local community and how you can make the most of it, contact RSG.


Written by Jeff Khau, a Senior Analyst at RSG