Public Policy

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Planning Policies and Regulations that can reduce the Practice of Private Property Abandonment in the United States, Spring 2014

Many communities in the U.S. have suffered population loss and decline for several decades.  This population loss and economic decline has resulted in widespread residential, industrial, and commercial abandonment.  The pattern of abandonment that we see in many communities we contend is in a large part due to current land ownership policies that allow landowners to literally “walk away” from their privately held parcels and burden the public sector with the cost of blight removal. This flood of abandonment and subsequent blight has left communities with a large number of vacant properties and limited public resources to rehabilitate or commission deconstruction. This paper examines the feasibility of adopting public planning regulations that would require private sector entities to secure financial instruments (ie. insurance and guarantee bonds) on newly constructed commercial and industrial structures.  These regulations have the potential to correct the inherent inequality and imbalance the current system of private property abandonment on the general public, by placing the cost of deconstruction on the owners/customers of a specific product or service.  The research paper identifies current practices that use a system of financial assurance to ensure funding for deconstruction, their enabling legislation, their methods of operation, and concludes with policy recommendations that may be adopted to transform the current pattern of private property abandonment. 

By Rex LaMore, Michelle LeBlanc


Urban Policy Research Series, Fall 2008

Michigan's economic recovery will be closely related to our central cities' ability to overcome continuing social and economic challenges. To support local and state policy development for cities, the Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development, in partnership with the MSU Land Policy Institute's MI-HELP consortium, connected Michigan's core city mayors and legislative leaders with its finest urban scholars to address the critical urban policy issues facing our State. In 2007, policy research was commissioned on priority topics identified by the Urban Core Mayors.

by David Arsen, Thomas David, Kiran Cunningham, Hannah McKinney Nina David, Elsie Harper-Anderson, Elisabeth Gerber, Mark I. Wilson, Kenneth E. Corey, Roger Hamlin, Ric Hula, Bianca Cobarzan, Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, and Cristina Leuca


Brief Number One: Building Opportunity in Low-Wealth Communities: State Policies to Fund School Capital Facilities, Fall 2008

Stark disparities in the condition of public school facilities were highlighted in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education challenge to segregation and the landmark 1971 Serrano v. Priest challenge to school funding inequality. Over the last decade, an extraordinary generation of fabulous school facilities has been built in suburban areas, while low-income children in central cities are left behind in outdated and often dilapidated structures. There is growing policy interest, nationally and within Michigan, regarding inadequate school facilities as an important education quality issue. Moreover, there is increasing awareness of the important role that high-quality school buildings play in neighborhood and community revitalization.

by Thomas Davis and David Arsen


Brief Number Two: Lifting Families Out of Poverty: Maximizing the Capacities of City Hall, Fall 2008

A recent report, State of Michigan's Cities: An Index of Urban Prosperity,1 claims that Michigan cities, whether they are benchmarked against other cities in the U.S. or in their own counties, are not doing well, and that this situation hurts the entire state's ability to rebound economically. High poverty rates in Michigan's core cities are one of the key reasons why the state finds it difficult to attract new business and investment.

by Kiran Cunningham and Hannah McKinney


Brief Number Three: Why Cooperate and For What Results? An Analysis of Local Cooperative Efforts to Manage Regional Growth in Michigan, Fall 2008

In the early 1990s, several state reports identified the lack of integrated and coordinated planning as the greatest threat to Michigan's environment and economy. These reports revived conversations on regionalism and cooperation in Michigan, which coupled with the current state of Michigan's economy have resulted in clarion calls for local governments to share services and work cooperatively to increase fiscal efficiencies.

by Nina David, Elsie Harper-Anderson, and Elisabeth Gerber


Brief Number Four: Global Positioning, Fall 2008

Michigan's economic future must incorporate three major elements: the knowledge economy, globalization, and network society. The knowledge economy captures the significance of science and technology as a driver of the economy, and the need for an educated workforce to facilitate economic growth. As structural change progresses in terms of what is made and how products and services are delivered, there is also a geographical restructuring with production systems fragmented to locate in the lowest cost and most advantageous areas. This globalization of production affects people and places as they now compete across the world rather than locally. The third phenomenon, network society, reflects the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on how people live, work, and interact. To be successful, cities must reach out internationally to attract the business enterprises of the 21st Century.

by Mark I. Wilson and Kenneth E. Corey


Brief Number Five: Brownfields: Making Programs Work for Michigan Communities, Fall 2008

In the last 50 years, suburban sprawl contributed to the destabilization of core cities. New highways, low-cost mortgages, and a long list of documented factors pushed some residents and businesses out of Michigan's industrial cities, leaving behind vacant factories, warehouses and lots, including tax-delinquent and contaminated parcels.1,2,3 For thirty years, governments have attempted to reverse trends and stimulate local development using their powers and resources, providing incentives to investors, developers, and industries. Core cities realize that incentives are necessary to overcome greenfield competition, and that developers respond if incentives create acceptable risk/reward balances. Available strategies include grants, low-interest loans, loan guarantees, second-position loans, secondary mortgage markets, loan insurance, tax deductions, tax abatements, tax credits, land assembly, land write-downs, land leases, and transfer of property rights.

by Roger Hamlin, Ric Hula, Bianca Cobarzan, Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, and Cristina Leuca


Brief Number Six: Michigan's Local Finance Structural Deficit: Analysis of Proposed Solutions, Fall 2008

In the past thirty years, local units of government in Michigan have experienced a triple convergence of significant limitations on their ability to finance municipal services. With the passage of the Headlee Amendment in 1978, local unit taxing jurisdictions were compelled to roll back property tax rates when existing property tax revenue increases exceeded the rate of inflation. In 1994, local units were limited further by Proposal A, which effectively capped tax increases on homestead properties at the rate of inflation. Other limitations on local units' ability to raise revenue include the prohibition against new local income taxes (1967), and reductions in state and federal revenue sharing. Finally, the 1980 U.S. Census was the first in history to result in the loss of a Congressional seat for Michigan, a trend that has continued in every subsequent Census, sound evidence that Michigan is no longer robust in population (and tax base) growth. Collectively, these Constitutional and demographic limitations on local unit tax revenues have compromised municipal services in Michigan.

by Jeff Horner


The New ERA of Policy Analysis, Fall 2006

The purpose of this report is to provide a basis for moving the pendulum towards policy principles that are based on standards of due diligence and which mirror certain quality standards. Evaluating policy reports, which use the standards of care and due diligence, can improve the policy making process by providing better and more reliable outcomes as well as reducing unintended negative consequences.

by Lauren Drolet, John Engle, Dipl. Ing. Steffen Hampe, Kairat Karmanov, Misty Staunton


Williamstown Township and LEED Standards: Planning for the Future, December 2005

This report describes Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for the Williamstown Township Planning Commission and explains how sustainable development might mitigate the effects of urban sprawl. Case studies from Michigan, Boulder, Santa Monica, Scottsdale, New York, Arlington County, and Boston provide examples of LEED standard implementation. Recommendations address new construction and neighborhood development.

by Julie Car, Nathan Powell, and Marie Rienzo


Building Energy Efficient Affordable Housing: A Strategic Goal for Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, December 2005

This report provides an analysis of energy costs in Michigan and their effects on homeowners, an overview of federal and state programs in energy assistance, and rationale for the construction of energy efficient affordable housing. Appendices highlight special opportunities and programs for energy efficiency.

by Ryan Albright, Maria DeVoogd, and Sherika Mosley


Regional Economic Development In Mid-Michigan's Tri-County Region, December 2005

This report gives an overview of different approaches to regional economic development, provides three case studies (Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Michigan), and makes 12 recommendations for mid-Michigan's Tri-County Region. A regional economic development organization analysis matrix frames the analysis.

by Lenise Lyons, Bogdana Neamtu, and Scott Rodriguez


Hip, Cool Cities In Michigan: The Creative Class and its Economic Power, December 2003

This report explains the scholarship supporting the "cool cities" concept, describes the elements of a cool city (lifestyle, social interaction, diversity, authenticity, identity, and quality of place), and provides a comparative case study (Detroit, MI vs. Austin, TX). Recommendations for Michigan focus on each cool city element.

by Meredith Ball, Landon Bartley, and Harry Burkholder


Neighborhood Early Warning System (NEWS), 2004

The report provides an overview of Neighborhood Early Warning Systems (NEWS) as a means of controlling urban blight, examines NEWS in seven U.S. metropolitan areas, and features in-depth case studies for NEWS in Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. Recommendations for Michigan address scale, scope, budget, location/technology needs, policies/data gathering, and accessibility.

by Tanisha Anderson, Nellie Becker, Julie Darnton, and Yong-Jun Shin


SmartZones and Technology Based Economic Development: Technology-Led Economic Development in Michigan And other Mid-Western States, December 2003

This report examines the program features and target industries of SmartZones and technology-based economic development in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Recommendations for Michigan include analysis of magnitude and impact of technology based economic development and continued monitoring of such development in neighboring states.

by Takessa Johnson and Karan Singh


The Potential of Brownfield Redevelopment To Green the Concrete Jungle, December 2003

This report examines the potential of brownfield redevelopment on urban revitalization. The authors outline the decline manufacturing in urban areas and the barriers to redeveloping industrial sites. Four case studies illustrate the promise of brownfield redevelopment: Gas Works Park, Seattle, WA; Jeongseon Casino Resort, Korea; Don Valley Brickworks, Toronto; Duisburg North Landscape Park, Germany. Recommendations for Michigan include pilot sites for recreational and cultural amenities.

by Natalie L. Johnson, Hun Seok Han, Seok Yong Yoon, and Chung Yong Kim


A Comparative Analysis of State Government Support of Regional Planning Between Michigan and Other States Nationwide, May 2003

This occasional paper provides an overview of federal legislation promoting regionalism, a history of regional planning in Michigan, and history of funding for regional initiatives within the state. Examples of regional planning from other states (Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia) illustrate the other potential for regional funding in Michigan.

by Prabodh Ballal and Bradley M. Sharlow