Tonight, the City Council will have three chances to consider the impacts of their decisions on businesses: development regulations, jobs, and the use of our downtown. We hope the Council will embrace this opportunity to recognize the value businesses provide to the community.
The City will take up the issue of new regulations on large retail developments. The Chamber has weighed in on this issue each time it has come up. A recent post on the issue is here. The proposed regulations create less certainty by requiring developments to go through a subjective process; stretch the development regulations within the City to new ends with extensive requirements not required for other permits; expand the applicability to include businesses from 45,000 to 65,000 square feet without considering what businesses are impacted, like grocery stores; and create a cloud of uncertainty around the reuse of existing buildings, leading to more vacant storefronts. The Chamber encourages the City to tone down the rhetoric and focus on desired outcomes and impacts to investors.
With the current budget crisis, the City is again turning to business for more tax revenues. As outlined here, the City is considering a new tax on some of our most sucessful local businesses, our hospitals. Despite providing hundreds of millions of dollars in charity care and direct funding of community programs, the City is looking to them to provide another $1M in taxes each year a recent jump from the initially proposed $600k. This will come at great cost to the community as this eats into community programs funded through the hospitals' revenues. The Chamber will continue to advocate for the preservation of these important services.
Finally, the City's Environment and Public Works Committee has proposed an amendment to the downtown parking regulations that would make the regulations truly market based, requiring developers to only build the parking they need for their development. For more on this issue, please visit the BIA blog here.
On each of these issues it is a chance for the City Council to stand up and encourage investment and growth in our community. The Chamber encourages them to do just that.