Aggie Square: Distributing Shareable Economic Benefits

Update: My article on Aggie Square was published on-line by the Journal of Urban Affairs in January 2023. A link to the article and copy of my accepted manuscript are available on my publications page.

At the end of 2021 I completed collecting, analyzing and evaluating reports prepared by the University of California at Davis, the City of Davis, Yolo County, and the City of Sacramento for the expansion of the university’s facilities, programs, and fundraising capacity. I’ve documented the strategies and tactics used by the University to advance their objectives and evaluated the balance of power between proponents and activists from the Oak Park neighborhood involved in the planning process. The product of this research is a forthcoming article in the Journal of Urban Affairs.

This case study reflects my interest in recognizing and valuing community equity in the planning process. My dissertation touched on this subject, finding that local governments commodify natural amenities (a form of community equity) for their own self-enrichment through the low-wage tourism industry. I concluded in that study that inclusive tourism development, focused on raising wages for residents, required 1) an interdisciplinary planning approach which recognized the financial contribution of natural amenities towards tourism and 2) keeping resident wages in the forefront of development planning and execution. A link to my dissertation is located under the publications tab. 

I continue this line of inquiry here, but the focus shifts to restoring community equity lost through decades of disinvestment in communities of color. Again, the conclusion is that community equity, or in this case restoring community equity, must be addressed at the earliest opportunity in the planning process. The new contributions the paper offers is an approach to 1) cut through economic propaganda and any lack of transparency by project proponents, and 2) quantify shareable economic benefits from new development. With a common approach to identify shareable economic benefits, communities will be empowered to enter into negotiations for community benefit agreements on a level playing field with project sponsors and proponents.

I have constructed three pages here which contain source documents, some comments on feasibility studies which were too lengthy for the article and a detailed time line for the case which also did not make the final version of my draft.