Community Benefit Agreements Help University Expansions Benefit Everyone

From USC to Columbia University, "town and gown" collaborations regarding university expansion have proven to benefit all parties, writes planning activist and affordable housing developer Murtaza Baxamusa.

August 28, 2018, 11:00 AM PDT

By wadams92101

California neighborhood

By McClean Photography / Shutterstock

The multiplier impact of universities on local economies has been shown to be virtually unparalleled. This is particularly important given how cities are often pitted against each other to attract businesses that promise a high number of jobs. As has recently been highlighted by the Amazon HQ2 competition, cities compete with each other to give away public land and tax subsidies to attract major employers. Sometimes, these "incentive packages" result in a net loss to local taxpayers. In all cases, cities are rewarded for minimizing funding of everything from education, to parks, to life & safety services. In contrast, universities are rarely as aggressive as private for-profit enterprises in seeking local subsidies, and in any case, are highly unlikely to move to another city to obtain subsidies. Additionally, universities help support a wide range of private enterprises, from low skilled services, to everyday supplies, to skilled trades, to high-tech and life-sciences start-ups.

Nevertheless, when universities seek to expand, it can be traumatic and damaging for adjacent neighborhoods and residents, particularly if community needs and goals are not given a voice in the matter. San Diego planning activist and affordable housing developer Murtaza Baxamusa writes about the topic in the context of an upcoming voter referendum concerning a sale of the Charger Stadium land to San Diego State University for expansion. Baxamusa references several recent university expansions to review the tensions and the resolutions. He opines that full collaboration and engagement, memorialized in a community benefits agreement, optimizes the expansion for both parties. He references the recent USC expansion as an example of the items that can be addressed in such agreements. For more detailed information, please see the source article.

Friday, August 24, 2018 in UrbDeZine

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

San Francisco Houses

‘Mega-Landlords’ Threaten Housing Stability for Renters

As institutional investors buy up a larger share of single-family homes, the families renting them are increasingly vulnerable to rent increases and eviction.

May 15, 2022 - The Hill

Downtown Dallas

Short-Term Rentals Vex Dallas City Council

Residents complain that vacation rentals exacerbate the city’s housing shortage and bring traffic and noise to residential neighborhoods, calling on the city to impose—and enforce—stricter regulations.

May 17 - The Dallas Morning News

Traffic Safety Advocates

Traffic Fatalities Set Records as Pandemic-Era Road Carnage Shows No Signs of Stopping

An estimated 42,915 people died in automobile crashes in 2021, according to recent federal data. The increasing fatalities continue a trend that began with the outset of the pandemic.

May 17 - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Driver Shortage Undercuts the Potential of L.A.’s Recent Bus System Redesign

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority implemented a complete overhaul of its bus system in three waves over the course of 2021. A shortage of drivers for the system has made it impossible to implement that vision.

May 17 - TransitCenter

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.