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Jennifer Melfi • 2 years ago

being blatantly honest... the graphic "Expense and Revenue Ratio: Per Acre" is really confusing. Is there a geographic component to that? Is the mall in the downtown? The downtown doesn't look like nearly as good of a value producer as whatever is just to the right of it.

Joseph Minicozzi • 2 years ago

Good point. That is a complicated graphic that works better in a powerpoint than in a static graphic. But it is geographic, as it is as if you are looking at the entire city if it were floating in a lake. Below the waterline is the net losses due to infrastructure costs subtracted from the revenues people pay to live/work where they live/work. The stuff above the waterline is net positive. Because it is a 'side view' of the 3D model, the mall gets lost behind the downtown. It is on the positive side, but not as positive as the downtown stuff. Geography plays a lot into costs. For instance, if you need a bridge to get to your property, then that infrastructure has a direct connection to your property to make it function, so it gets translated to a cost in your choice. The same is true for lift stations for your sewers and such, and typically city finance system do not consider geographic consideration, which is why we put it on a map.
Here's a top-view of the overall model.
https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

David Wade • 2 years ago

Thank you for the additional map. Eyeballing the Expense & Revenue Ratio Map has me guessing Eugene's expenses exceed its revenue by at least 250%, so if Eugene is earning $1 a year it's spending $2.50 a year. Is that close to the mark?

Stephen J • 2 years ago

Joe, I've got some questions about the map. It looks like nearly all the single-family neighborhoods are financial losers in Eugene. Is single-family housing a pure loser financially for cities? I also see that the mall of all places outperforms most of the city along with a number of garden-style apartments and industrial warehouses. We hear over and over again what a financial loser those places turn out to be so what gives in Eugene? Is it merely a snapshot in time before decline sets in or is the mall truly fiscally solvent?

Joseph Minicozzi • 2 years ago

These are great questions, but there is some nuance involved in explaining/answering them. Generally (very generally) speaking, single-family is subsidized. There are plenty of caveats that go with that statement, primarily the OR tax code and the 'Measures' (It's like CA's Prop 13, but a little more strange) affecting valuation. So in some cases, we found that some dense historic properties are also showing up as some of those 'subsidized' properties while others didn't. I think the takeaway is less about a value statement that "single family is subsidized", than this is a graphic to show people that development has a geospatial cost relationship, and that cities are struggling financially because of it. Think of this as a 'Tax Literacy' graphic. It's to help people see the money.

Jennifer Melfi • 2 years ago

This makes way more sense. I got the positive value = up, negative value = down portion, but couldn't understand the relative impact of distance from downtown or center. This new graphic makes that perfectly clear. I'm guessing in a city like this there are zip codes or neighborhoods that are considered "blight" or rundown areas, as well as those that are much newer and have trendy chain stores nearby - would be good to mark those on this map as well.

Joseph Minicozzi • 2 years ago

And the view from underground. https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

Jennifer Melfi • 2 years ago

Thanks for the reply

David Wade • 2 years ago

One more question about the Expense and Revenue Ratio: Per Acre map. The map uses the terms net positive and net negative in a way that seems to describe individual parcels simultaneously. Am I misunderstanding that? I ask because businesses either have a net profit or a net loss. It is impossible for them to have both at the same time. Or is it that there are such a high number of properties that it only appears that each property has both a net negative and positive measures, when really each property only has one or the other? Thanks!

Tom Milner • 2 years ago

Speaking of value per acre, I have a question about Chuck's classic Taco John's example: (https://www.strongtowns.org...

In the picture you can see that immediately behind the "old and blighted" block is a parking lot offering ~48 spots, a similar number as Taco John's built within its parcel. If we're truly going apples-to-apples shouldn't we account for the parking that the businesses utilize to support their operations?

On the one hand, and if my math is correct (a big if), the old block still outperforms the new by 38% (based on 2018 valuations) even when taking the parking parcels into account. On the other hand, and I'm not fully confident this is an appropriate comparison, when we take an outline of the total land used to support the old block (structures + parking) and overlay it on the new block, 38% decreases to 3% as the analogous parcels used for parking for the old block are used for residential on the new. It seems to me that the only way to get an accurate comparison in the Taco John's example is for someone to turn the parking parcels into residential, then see if the old and blighted block retains it value without the benefit of those 48 parking places.

I'm sure I'm missing something here (and I am most surely not advocating for more parking). Any help? Thanks.