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Residential Use is Most Expensive for Public Services

We’ve known for a long time that residential land use is the most expensive use of land there is – those residents need police and fire protection, sewer, water, gas, electric services and so on. That’s why for Alameda Point, like Bayport, the City is levying a municipal services district (Mello Roos) tax. Here’s a study that quantifies just how expensive residential land use is.

In his paper “The Impact of Parks and Open Space on Property Values and the Property Tax Base,” John L. Crompton, a professor at Texas A&M University, argues that “Open space protection is good for a community’s health, stability, beauty and quality of life. It is also good for the bottom line.”

In the paper, Crompton references studies undertaken by 26 different research teams in 18 different states that attempted to evaluate the cost of common services (i.e. how much it costs to provide public services) for different land uses, using a methodology developed by the American Farmland Trust. The findings are summarized in the graph below – residential land use costs $1.15 for every $1.00 of revenue raised by the municipality while Commercial/Industrial costs 29 cents for every dollar of revenue raised, and open space or farm/forest use costs 37 cents for every dollar raised.

Residential land use is the most expensive for public services

Residential land costs the most to provide public services to

There is compelling evidence that building housing is the most expensive way to develop land. Yet Alameda City Council is determined to follow that course for Alameda Point, despite the objections of many, and despite the current finanical crisis we’re in.

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