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Mobility Fee Moratorum an Epic Fail?

September's version of the "On Numbers Economic Index," which measures the economic health of 102 major metropolitan areas, doesn't have good things to say about Jacksonville when compared to other cities in Florida and across the nation. Such data tends to suggest that the mobility plan moratorium, intended to spur economic development locally, has epically failed.

Published September 20, 2012 in Transit      33 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The On Numbers Economic Index is calculated once a month, based on the latest official statistics for all U.S. metropolitan areas with estimated populations above 500,000. The index is designed to show the relative economic strength of those 102 major metros.  All raw data come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and are the latest available figures as of the second Monday of the current month.

Metropolitan Areas Ranked by Economic Health

1. Oklahoma City

2. Austin

3. Omaha

4. Pittsburgh

5. Denver

6. Houston

7. Columbus

8. Tulsa

9. Boston

10. Little Rock, AR

11. San Antonio

12. Durham, NC.

13. Charleston, S.C.

14. Dallas-Fort Worth

15. Cincinnati

16. Portland, ME

17. San Jose

18. Louisville

19. Nashville

20. Honolulu

21. Des Moines, IA

22. Washington, DC

23. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA

24. Albany, NY

25. Ogden, UT

26. Buffalo

27. Salt Lake City

28. Akron, OH

29. Indianapolis

30. Wichita, KS

31. Rochester, NY

32. Raleigh

33. Baton Rouge, LA

34. Toledo

35. New Orleans

36. Harrisburg, PA

37. El Paso

38. Lancaster, PA

39. Knoxville

40. Provo, UT

41. Seattle

42. Portland, OR

43. Boise, ID

44. San Francisco-Oakland

45. Richmond

46. Grand Rapids

47. Phoenix

48. Minneapolis-St. Paul

49. San Diego

50. Cleveland

51. Madison, WI

52. Chattanooga

53. McAllen-Edinburg, TX

54. Columbia, SC

55. St. Louis

56. Charlotte

57. New York City

58. Bakersfield, CA

59. Poughkeepsie, NY

60. Birmingham

61. Milwaukee

62. Syracuse

63. Baltimore

64. Bridgeport-Stamford, CT

65. Kansas City

66. Springfield, MA

67. Allentown-Bethlehem, PA

68. Philadelphia

69. Worcester, MA

70. Detroit

71. Fresno, CA

72. Sacramento

73. Tucson

74. Youngstown, OH

75. Greenville, SC

76. Jackson, MS

77. Modesto, CA

78. Hartford

79. New Haven, CT

80. Dayton, OH

81. Greensboro, NC

82. Albuquerque

83. Atlanta

84. Virginia Beach-Norfolk

85. Stockton, CA

86. Los Angeles

87. Memphis

88. Cape Coral-Fort Myers

89. Chicago

90. Miami-Fort Lauderdale

91. Orlando

92. Augusta, GA

93. Providence

94. Lakeland

95. Palm Bay-Melbourne

96. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, CA

97. Sarasota-Bradenton

98. Las Vegas

99. Jacksonville

100. Tampa-St. Petersburg

101. Riverside-San Bernandino, CA

102. Colorado Springs



Florida Metropolitan Areas: 1-Year Private-Sector Job Growth


1. Tampa-St. Petersburg (+1.95%)

2. Orlando (+1.11%)

3. Lakeland (+1.10%)

4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale (+0.91%)

5. Palm Bay-Melbourne (+0.54%)

6. Sarasota-Bradenton (+0.62%)

7. Jacksonville (+0.47%)

8. Cape Coral-Fort Myers (+0.37%)

Source: On Numbers Economic Index


For one to claim that the mobility fee moratorium was a success, any improvement in Jacksonville's economy should be weighted with the economic conditions of cities across the state and country that may have not enacted similar policies to encourage economic development in their communities.  Anything less is a little more than hot air. Assuming Jacksonville saw a spike in growth compared to other communities over the course of the year, one could make an argument that the moratorium could have been a possible reason.  The fact that Jacksonville continues to lag behind 98 of 102 cities on the "On Numbers Economic Index" list and St. Johns County's growth continuing to pull away from Duval County's suggest otherwise.  


LA Fitness' new Atlantic Beach location.  LA Fitness' move into the region, opening multiple locations within and outside of the City of Jacksonville suggests their decision to come to the area had nothing to do with Jacksonville's mobility plan moratorium.

Since the mobility fee has no impact on market  feasibility and bank financing for private sector development, one could even make the case that the moratorium is a negative on economic growth because what it does is kill local job creation stimulated by public capital improvement projects, funded by the mobility fee.  After all, not everyone in Jacksonville works for the Toney Sleimans of the development world. Those 7-11s, Wendys and LA Fitness' are coming to Jacksonville and thousands of other cities regardless of if they have an impact fee or not. Their proformas rely on market and demographic numbers being ripe for their product not impact fee moratoriums that stick taxpayers with the full brunt of funding public infrastructure capacity improvements.


7-Eleven's move into North Florida has resulted in it opening just as many stores outside of the City of Jacksonville as in it.  In addition, many of Jacksonville's 7-Eleven locations are located in existing structures or redevelopment sites (higher mobility fees are typically associated with new or greenfield construction).  This suggests that 7-Eleven's Jacksonville expansion plans have nothing to do with the mobility fee moratorium as well.

In addition, from Oklahoma City to Charlotte, cities that tend to invest in themselves typically are places where that investment directly stimulates more prosperity and investment from the private sector.  We've indicated in the past that you can't cut yourself to prosperity. However, you can make your community's quality of life so horrible that you eventually run off residents and businesses in the process. At some point, Jacksonville's leaders have to realize this if they truly want our community to succeed and live up to its potential.


What would be considered blasphemy in Jacksonville, Oklahoma City is in the process of demolishing their downtown freeway and replacing it with a mile long urban park.  A streetcar line is also planned.  Mobility strategies and public investments like these have directly led to economic growth and job creation in their community.

Quote
Oklahoma has a radical solution for repairing the state's busiest highway.
Tear it down. Build a park.

The aging Crosstown Expressway — an elevated 4.5-mile stretch of Interstate 40 — will be demolished in 2012. An old-fashioned boulevard and a mile-long park will be constructed in its place.

Oklahoma City is doing what many cities dream about: saying goodbye to a highway.

More than a dozen cities have proposals to remove highways from downtowns. Cleveland wants to remove a freeway that blocks its waterfront. Syracuse, N.Y., wants to rid itself of an interstate that cuts the city in half.

"Highways don't belong in cities. Period," says John Norquist, who was mayor of Milwaukee when it closed a highway. "Europe didn't do it. America did. And our cities have paid the price."
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-05-14-highways_N.htm


Article by Ennis Davis







33 Comments

JeffreyS

September 20, 2012, 07:10:45 AM
Epic fail is the perfect description.

fsujax

September 20, 2012, 08:09:25 AM
now if we could just convince a majority on City Council of this.

mbwright

September 20, 2012, 08:24:53 AM
oh, gee, what a surprise.  I guess the lack of development was not solely because of the impact fee.  Sort of like Rick Scott saying the reason the state was not developing, was because of all of the restrictions imposed by the DEP, EPA, and DRI reviews by the DCI.  Hard to believe these were not the root cause of this mess we are in.

Interesting to note that by not collecting the fee, that it conversely prevented work to be done that the fees supported.

Bridges

September 20, 2012, 08:26:40 AM
Great Article! Going to write the city council with some facts about it.  Are there city council meetings where they discuss the fee moratorium? 

tufsu1

September 20, 2012, 08:30:08 AM
no one has officially filed a request to extend the moratorium yet....so not, there aren't any scheduled meetings

dougskiles

September 20, 2012, 09:12:43 AM
Let's compare two different strategies available to provide jobs:

In today's Florida Times Union, there is an article about property tax rebates given to companies based on a specific number of jobs created.  The amount of rebate varies according to the type and number of jobs.  If no jobs are created, the tax rebate goes away.  In some cases, the owner pays the tax and then gets a refund.  A case-by-case approach allows for the results to be measured.

http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-09-19/story/jacksonville-mayor-ramps-property-tax-rebates-compete-business-expansion

Quote
Since July 2011, the city has approved a total of nearly $7.5 million in property tax breaks.

Quote
Paul Crawford, acting director of the Office of Economic Development, said without the incentives, Jacksonville would gain neither the jobs nor the investment of businesses that would go to other cities. The deals with the property tax breaks are expected to create 535 new, high-wage jobs.

That comes to roughly $14K per job, with performance guarantees built-in.

Contrast that to the Mobility Fee moratorium, which has already issued building permits resulting in $2,671,577 of lost infrastructure funding.  If all of the waivers that were approved lead to building permits, we are looking at a total of $15,050,995 in lost funding.  There is no way to measure the job creating success of this endeavor.

Retail jobs are support jobs.  They are not a driving economic force in a city (unless we become a tourist destination for shopping).  The other issue with retail jobs is that they typically come at the expense of another retail business or shopping center.  When looking at retail job creation, we must look at the net gain (or decrease) for a region.  The jobs at a new Wal-mart may simply be coming at the expense of a closing K-mart.

I have no problem with Wal-mart opening a store at K-mart's expense (that is a free market doing its thing).  I do have a problem with it if public money was used to make the Wal-mart a viable project.

The new jobs we are trying to create and encourage need to be those that result in a net gain to our local economy.  Manufacturing jobs, banking jobs, tech jobs fill this role.  Higher education fits into this category.  Construction and service jobs, do not (they come as a result of the other jobs).

And this opinion is coming from someone in the construction industry.  We took a huge hit during the recession and I would prefer that Jacksonville focus efforts on creating a sustainable economy that can withstand future recessions a little better.  It may mean a little less income during the boom times, which I am willing to trade for a little more security during the rough times.

simms3

September 20, 2012, 09:21:14 AM
If the answer to growth is relaxing one's barriers to entry, can someone please explain to me why every other growing city or every coastal gateway market is doing the opposite?  Even the TX cities are starting to realize that their "only" negative right now is their low barrier to entry and they are taking steps to increase them.  Boston doesn't have Houston growth, but it has impossible barriers to entry and excellent fundamentals making it just as attractive to new investment.

People in Jacksonville have their heads up each other's asses.

simms3

September 20, 2012, 09:26:32 AM
But Doug,

Do you think companies are enticed to move or expand here because they'll receive a $100,000/year property tax abatement?  I would think they move to Jacksonville for other reasons.  Similarly, it's more expensive to do business in NYC or Boston, but I can guarantee you every company wants to have a large presence in each city.

The way to grow your economy is not simply to buy deals or rely on warmer weather, though each can help, but to provide the fundamentals in which a company can grow and be profitable in that environment.

dougskiles

September 20, 2012, 09:40:08 AM
I agree with you simms3.  I am pointing out the difference.  If we are going to play the game of incentives, I much prefer that we do so in ways that are measurable.

If I had my way, we would invest our resources entirely into making Jacksonville a better place to live and work (better schools, better infrastructure, parks, etc.)

When we make things cheap, we get cheap in return.  Expecting more, gets us more.  It takes guts and good negotiating skills, and it can be done.

JeffreyS

September 20, 2012, 10:04:35 AM
Doug.

tufsu1

September 20, 2012, 10:47:45 AM
also, there is apparently some major controversy with the freeway removal now in OKC...I read an article the other day where some groups are pushing for it to be rebuilt....they cite the increased traffic generated by all the new downtown activity.

thelakelander

September 20, 2012, 10:54:09 AM
Confusing considering I-40 was relocated a few blocks south.

vicupstate

September 20, 2012, 11:20:30 AM
 
I agree with you simms3.  I am pointing out the difference.  If we are going to play the game of incentives, I much prefer that we do so in ways that are measurable.

If I had my way, we would invest our resources entirely into making Jacksonville a better place to live and work (better schools, better infrastructure, parks, etc.)

When we make things cheap, we get cheap in return.  Expecting more, gets us more.  It takes guts and good negotiating skills, and it can be done.

Well said.  You can't cut taxes and wages enough to compete with 3rd World countries or even podunk counties on the prairie.

You have to be able to offer something they can't, like a high quality of life and an educated workforce with higher skills.  Jax has yet to learn that lesson and it will be in a race to the bottom, until it changes course.   

cityimrov

September 20, 2012, 03:14:29 PM
You have to be able to offer something they can't, like a high quality of life and an educated workforce with higher skills.  Jax has yet to learn that lesson and it will be in a race to the bottom, until it changes course.   

Or you can pay for them to come here.   With enough money, Jacksonville can have bring lots of companies come here.  However, paying people to come here is just like buying friends.  They'll be happy to be your friend as long as you have the money to pay them.

urbaknight

September 20, 2012, 03:27:34 PM
If (when) they extend the mobility fee moratorium, they might as well cancel the 2030 plan all together.

I checked out a dvd from the library yesterday that I think everybody should see and take very seriously. It's called,

"The end of Suburbia oil depletionand the collapse of the American Dream"

The dvd discusses what we can expect when the oil runs out. The experts say it will happen in our lifetimes. They also say that we may not even have enough time to perfect our methods of renewable energy it time to stop some of the chaos. 

I don;t know how close we actually are. But I think we should assume that it could happen tomorrow, just to be on the safe side.

thelakelander

September 20, 2012, 04:07:01 PM
Jacksonville will begin to economically decline well in advance of oil running out, if it doesn't figure out that you have to invest in a community for it to prosper.

simms3

September 20, 2012, 04:13:57 PM
Again, the incentives that Jacksonville offers don't seem targeted or have a specific goal in mind.  Very general incentives that don't "mean" much.  So many parallels in real estate, especially retail.  We "buy" deals pretty frequently, but with a very specific goal in mind (sometimes so specific to the point of attracting 5 specific tenants to fill 5 specific spaces in a very specific way).  Sometimes we have to buy a deal or 2 to shift momentum in another direction, like going from a design tenant base to a fashion tenant base (they pay higher rent).  There is always a lot of analysis and almost always our return is very positively impacted.  Nothing broad-based; very targeted strategies.

Even on a little 20,000 sf retail component in a condo development where 25% is occupied and leasing momentum has stalled, we decided against "buying" Starbucks.  No scenario we modeled came out positive for us, too many assumptions to be made over the remaining 65% of space and any impacts upon exit, etc.  In that particular case we are at the mercy of the submarket and there is little we can do to guide results.

How do city leaders/economic development agencies look at these broad-based incentives?  What is the goal?  Are there specific industries they hope will be enticed by the incentives?  Are there specific areas of town they wish to improve with economic development?  Are there examples in other cities doing exactly the same thing that have benefited directly because of the broad-based incentives?  I know in fixed-rail's case there are now dozens of examples of how to build a system that will produce a return for the city.  That is something that has defined precedent and examples.

JeffreyS

September 20, 2012, 04:15:07 PM
That sounds like socialism Lake.

vicupstate

September 20, 2012, 06:07:15 PM
You have to be able to offer something they can't, like a high quality of life and an educated workforce with higher skills.  Jax has yet to learn that lesson and it will be in a race to the bottom, until it changes course.   

Or you can pay for them to come here.   With enough money, Jacksonville can have bring lots of companies come here.  However, paying people to come here is just like buying friends.  They'll be happy to be your friend as long as you have the money to pay them.

1) Jax is broke.
2) Others are bidding too, so it becomes a bidding war that turns into a race to the bottom. 
3) As soon as the cost is lower elsewhere, they leave for greener pastures.   

I remember Greensboro paid huge incentives to get a FedEx hub after a bidding war.   I seem to remember it was over $50k per job, and most were PART TIME.  After a decade or so, it closed. 

peestandingup

September 20, 2012, 08:30:56 PM
If (when) they extend the mobility fee moratorium, they might as well cancel the 2030 plan all together.

I checked out a dvd from the library yesterday that I think everybody should see and take very seriously. It's called,

"The end of Suburbia oil depletionand the collapse of the American Dream"

The dvd discusses what we can expect when the oil runs out. The experts say it will happen in our lifetimes. They also say that we may not even have enough time to perfect our methods of renewable energy it time to stop some of the chaos. 

I don;t know how close we actually are. But I think we should assume that it could happen tomorrow, just to be on the safe side.

Ive seen it. Very eye opening. There's a lot of doom & gloom, but its worth watching just for the history lesson & to study the ongoing effect that unsustainable sprawl is having on cities (and our country as a whole). Health too.

Thankfully a lot of cities are becoming well aware of this & started the reversal, even if it hurts & destroys previous industry thats been running amuck. Jax obviously isn't one of them though & I have serious doubts they ever will be. I'll be VERY shocked if they ever let the mobility plan take any kind of shape. It seems like the leaders here only know sprawling type of growth & nothing else.

You don't get to be the city with the biggest footprint in the US (with ultra low density) by making great choices. Which is why pulling some of that back in might be next to impossible. They're stuck on that teet big time here. Even if the markets (housing crash) & trends are telling them different.

dougskiles

September 21, 2012, 08:41:50 AM
More evidence in this morning's front page of the Florida Times Union:

New census figures could show 'light at the end of the tunnel' for Jacksonville, nation
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-09-20/story/new-census-figures-could-show-light-end-tunnel-jacksonville-nation#ixzz276fgj9iJ

Quote
Last year, the metro area created just 3,000 jobs, said Candace Moody, spokesperson for Jacksonville’s WorkSource,
 
“It’s not enough to really start putting people back to work,” she said. “It’s hard to measure. For every Kmart that’s closing on Beach Boulevard, a Nordstrom is opening in Town Center.”
 
The local employment rate fluctuates, and any employment rate drops are largely due to people who are no longer looking for jobs, Moody said.
 
Area employment remains moribund, but she sees a couple of positive signs in the news. One is the increased mobility cited in the census figures. The other is the stabilization — and even improvement — in the housing market.

Ocklawaha

September 24, 2012, 08:54:57 AM

Quote
Oklahoma City, OK, I-40 Crosstown Expressway: Oklahoma City voted to remove this elevated freeway to promote development in the "Core to Shore" area between downtown and the Oklahoma River. The city hoped for a pedestrian-friendly boulevard, but the state highway department designed a partly elevated highway to replace the old elevated highway. With demolotion of the existing freeway in progress, the city is protesting the states plans for a replacement.
This phase is said and done, the FREEway has opened and it is only elevated on the west end (beyond 'Western Av' on the map) where it crosses Pennsylvania and Reno Boulevards, which is as far from the core as Jacksonville's downtown is from the MLK.

Nothing going on about the FREEway removal in OKC, the plan is on track, the new FREEway, south of downtown along the Oklahoma River has long since opened for business. Any 'controversy' would be over a new Oklahoma Boulevard which will run from the Dallas Interchange to Pennsylvania Avenue along the route of the old FREEway. This along with more park land is going to make for a beautiful 'I-40 business route' which will include streetcars, and a lineal park. The park land is so massive that the former multi-floor USPS sorting center which was south of the old FREEway and north of the current one was torn down, opening up a free space from the door of Union Station to the Myriad Gardens.

Imagine if Hemming Plaza was about 8 times it's size, surrounded by a Union Bus Terminal ("Yes Martha there ARE other big carriers besides Greyhound"), city offices, convention center, arena and hotels, then one side opens up with a 2/4 block wide green space all the way to Jacksonville Terminal which would sit right at the east edge of I-95... "THAT is what OKC is doing."

dougskiles

October 03, 2012, 04:53:49 AM
The editorial writers of the Florida Times Union appear to agree that it is time to reinstate the Mobility Fee:
 
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2012-10-02/story/smart-way-pay-growth

JeffreyS

October 03, 2012, 06:58:07 AM
^That's great.

Bill Hoff

October 03, 2012, 10:40:15 AM
Is there anything published that is not in favor of ending the moratorium?

Everything I've seen in the TU, Resident, Folio, First Coast Connect, MJ, etc has all been decidedly in favor of letting it expire. Hopefully that's reflected in Council votes.

Next Tuesday, Oct 9th, City Council meeting - be there.

simms3

October 03, 2012, 12:07:38 PM
AWESOME editorial!  Thanks Doug!  And all 4 comments so far are uniformly in agreement!!!  If the CC extends the moratorium, some bold team of local lawyers need to ATTACK the CC and get everyone fired with a temporary replacement of volunteers.  That would be an awesome news story that would be picked up nationally and could be good for the city (because by this point everyone who has heard of Jax knows one thing: the government there SUCKS).

Bridges

October 03, 2012, 12:31:00 PM
Next Tuesday, Oct 9th, City Council meeting - be there.

Is it going to be introduced? Or is that a precautionary measure to be there?

Dog Walker

October 03, 2012, 04:39:25 PM
AWESOME editorial!  Thanks Doug!  And all 4 comments so far are uniformly in agreement!!!  If the CC extends the moratorium, some bold team of local lawyers need to ATTACK the CC and get everyone fired with a temporary replacement of volunteers.  That would be an awesome news story that would be picked up nationally and could be good for the city (because by this point everyone who has heard of Jax knows one thing: the government there SUCKS).

Actually, Simms, we probably have, on average,  the brightest and best educated City Council that we have had in a looong time.  I disagree with some of their decisions, but still think we have some of the "brightest and best" right now that we have had in a long time.  Because some of them are really smart, the CC average smarts has risen above room temperature for the first time in a while.

Unfortunately, the bottom two-thirds has equal votes, but we still have a really good chance of having the moratorium ignored so that the automatic renewal takes effect.  Blind Hogs and all that.

thelakelander

October 03, 2012, 04:41:14 PM
Next Tuesday, Oct 9th, City Council meeting - be there.

Is it going to be introduced? Or is that a precautionary measure to be there?

It's a precautionary measure just in case someone tries to submit an emergency bill at the last minute without decent public notice.

dougskiles

October 03, 2012, 06:16:50 PM
Next Tuesday, Oct 9th, City Council meeting - be there.

Is it going to be introduced? Or is that a precautionary measure to be there?

It's a precautionary measure just in case someone tries to submit an emergency bill at the last minute without decent public notice.

Every councilmember I have talked to has strongly suggested that anyone with an opinion about the Mobility Fee show up Tuesday night.

And even if there is no emergency bill, it represents an opportunity to voice public support for the Mobility Plan.

strider

October 03, 2012, 06:26:19 PM
Next Tuesday, Oct 9th, City Council meeting - be there.

Is it going to be introduced? Or is that a precautionary measure to be there?

It's a precautionary measure just in case someone tries to submit an emergency bill at the last minute without decent public notice.

There is apparently good reason to believe someone intends to do exactly that.

fsujax

October 03, 2012, 07:50:36 PM
I have no doubt someone will try to introduce an emergency bill. Bishop will more than likely try to send it back to committee. Still a good idea to show up.

tufsu1

October 04, 2012, 08:59:31 AM
I saw Councilman Redman at ArtWalk last night...and spoke to him about it...he told me he saw no evidence that the moratoruium was successful in encourgaing new development
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