Editor’s Note: The Board of Directors of Civic San Diego is set to approve an economic development work plan at their February 24th meeting. In short, this is their grand vision for San Diego. Sadly, this vision doesn’t include the living wage provisions required of large local development projects over the past decade. Board member Murtaza Baxamusa was the sole opposing vote at a recent committee meeting.
By Murtaza Baxamusa
For low-income communities, the promise of “economic development” is often held as the basis for taxpayer-subsidized projects. However, developer-driven focus on projects, rather than people, has the theory of local economic development upside-down. This is what happens when a downtown development corporation starts working on a plan for economic development for other neighborhoods.
It is often easy to forget why we do economic development? Not every project, nor every neighborhood needs it. Ultimately, the key metric to measure the success (or failure) of any economic development intervention should be whether local residents are working in better-paying jobs. If the disposable income of the average household in a neighborhood increases, the market will respond accordingly. There will be more amenities, shops, restaurants, services that will be attracted to the buying power of local residents. On the other hand, if household incomes in a neighborhood stagnate, then local businesses stagnate too and perpetuate the lack of opportunity. [Read more…]