Economic Development

Ithaca is a growing community with a diverse and well-educated population, incredible natural beauty, thriving local businesses, and a resourceful and creative citizenry. We have the skills and resources necessary to thrive in a 21st century economy.

We need to continue to promote innovative development, support our local businesses, and find ways to create good, living-wage jobs for our workers.

I choose not to own a car and get where I’m going by walking, taking the TCAT, and using Ithaca Carshare.

I have a real interest in keeping the City of Ithaca among the most pedestrian and bike friendly places in the nation, and believe we should continue to invest in bike-infrastructure, pedestrian space, and public transportation.

Cities where residents walk and ride bikes are cities where local business can thrive. They’re cities where people run into familiar faces on the street, where a strong sense of community is fostered.

Denser, more pedestrian focused development, will allow more residents to get to work, the store, their favorite restaurant – all without a car. This will reduce traffic, ease the strain on our infrastructure, save tax-payers money, promote local businesses, and help us become a more sustainable, community-focused City.

The City of Ithaca’s culture depends on its residential neighborhoods. These are neighborhoods full of architectural significance and owner occupied housing. Neighborhoods like Fall Creek, Belle Sherman, Bryant Park, South Hill, West Hill, the Southside, and others deserve to be protected from development pressure.

The tools we need to preserve these neighborhoods:

Form Based Zoning
I have been a proponent of form based zoning in Collegetown and I believe it can work in other areas of the city. This zoning tool ensures that new development will conform to important architectural standards, and prevent big cement boxes from intruding on the character of our neighborhoods.

Binding Design Review
The city’s current design review process is toothless. With new legislation, like the one being considered in Collegetown, the City can better enforce design standards.

R-3AA Zoning
I served on the subcommittee that created the R-3AA zone in the city of Ithaca. When used judiciously, R-3AA zoning will prevent large, uninterrupted, blocky buildings. It is not appropriate for every neighborhood,but it is another important piece of the preservation toolkit.

In the last ten years, Tompkins County grew 5.5%.  Over the next decade, the County is projected to grow another 5%.

This growth is good for Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca. It increases the tax base, creates jobs, and is a sign that our economy is strong.

But we need to ensure that future development happens where it makes most sense, in the city’s urban core. Housing, hotels and office spaces should be encouraged in the center of Collegetown, Downtown, and inlet island.

Population growth outside of these areas will mean more sprawl and more traffic. Development in the urban core will allow for a more walkable and bikable city, a stronger tax base, lower property taxes, and relief for quiet city neighborhoods that are currently under development pressure.

Payments in lieu of taxes

I believe that all tax-exempt properties in the City of Ithaca should share in the tax base.

Being home to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and dozens of terrific non-profit agencies is part of what makes Ithaca a great place to live. These organizations contribute to our culture, our quality of life, and our economy.

But the fact that 62% of land in the City of Ithaca is tax exempt means higher property taxes for the rest of us. Nearly 90% of that tax exempt land belongs to the University.

As Mayor, I will ask every non-profit in the City of Ithaca to contribute to the tax base through voluntary contributions. Ithaca should follow Boston and seek a contribution of 25% of assessed property taxes. This means standing firm to the University and asking them to contribute more for the services they use.


Future Development and the Tax Base:

The City of Ithaca needs to do everything in its power to keep property on the tax rolls. This means, in part, promoting privately developed housing in Collegetown and discouraging the building of new dorms.  It also means utilizing R3AA zoning to discourage anyone from constructing blocky, uninterrupted buildings that can be easily converted into dorms.

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