Membership Meeting w/ Guest Speaker Mayor Tim Kabat

Livable Neighborhoods will hold a Membership Meeting on Tuesday, July 16 @ 6PM at the Southside Community Center, 1300 6th St S., with guest speaker Mayor Tim Kabat.

The agenda will be limited to updates on issues of interest including the status of the Coulee Connections study, the Neighborhood Revitalization Commission and the neighborhood associations, and a brief presentation on the Livable Neighborhoods review of available data from City Hall.

We will then hear from our guest speaker, Mayor Tim Kabat, who will share his plans for improving the neighborhoods, followed by Q&A.

Membership is encouraged but not required to attend and participate.

Mayor Tim Kabat

Campaigns for Neighborhoods is Positive

The Tribune‘s Mayoral and Common Council candidate surveys and along with ours reveal a fundamental shift in the municipal election cycle: neighborhood revitalization is on everyone’s radar. It is a refreshing change and almost seems as if everyone’s made our “2020 Visions” white paper as their platform.

It is also a major change from previous campaigns when every candidate talked about “bringing jobs to La Crosse” and “cutting property taxes” as if municipal governments have magic wands to really make these things happen.

There is no magic wand to bringing jobs anywhere. Unless a community has some untapped natural resource or a hot new technology or service that has been developed by some local entrepreneur, there are really two choices to job growth: 1. Provide subsidies to try to steal jobs from someplace else (and hope you don’t go broke doing so before some other community does the same to you), or 2. Grow jobs locally, via an educated and trained workforce in a place with a great quality of life (Slow, but steady and less susceptible to theft by subsidy).

There is also no magic wand to property taxes. Municipalities and schools in Wisconsin are locked into this regressive form of taxation that only works if a community can add tax base by expansion and/or redevelopment. A central city like La Crosse with our geography and boundary agreements is pretty much landlocked. Even if we were not, growth through annexation often adds more demand for services than the new, but spread out tax base can support. Our only real choices for both economic health and community vitality are a combination of revitalization and redevelopment, along with cooperation and collaboration with our neighboring communities.

Residential property owners pay a higher percentage (53%) of property taxes than owners of  commercial (37%), industrial (4%) and personal (6%) properties (See UW Extension report). This trend along with the fact we have more and more property that is tax exempt and surface parking lots means all property taxpayers are paying more and getting less. This combination puts even more pressure on our core neighborhoods and the schools, creating a downward spiral that is harder to reverse.

The connection of neighborhoods and schools is also fundamental. If a neighborhood is distressed so there are fewer children to go to school, the district has to reduce programs or close schools. As schools close, that neighborhood is less attractive to families with children so single family owner occupied home ownership declines. This results in a more transient and less connected population, resulting in more blight and nuisances, which on turn lowers property values and reduces the tax base.

Big redevelopment projects like the ones we’ve seen Downtown and at our major institutions are an important part of the equation, but they are not the whole solution. Unless the nearby neighborhoods also have both great schools and good quality housing to go along with these projects, too many of their people will choose to live outside of the city.

This creates more urban sprawl and people that commute via Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs), which creates more demand for roads and parking that gobbles up more of both our resources (police, EMS, repairs and maintenance) and tax base.

Rinse and repeat every decade for and ….. well, here we are.

This paradigm is unsustainable economically, socially and environmentally. Until we get really serious and revitalize our core neighborhoods so more families with elementary school age children will choose to buy homes here, we’ll just see more “drive through” and “commuter parking lot” neighborhoods with more blight and nuisances, resulting in an ever shrinking tax base.

One of the easiest, least expensive and most beneficial things we can do as a community is also the top recommendation of the report by the Joint City-County Housing Task Force: Better Education and Enforcement of Existing Codes and Standards. Blight and nuisance abatement is not as glamorous as big redevelopment projects, but it is absolutely essential to fully implement if we are to have any chance of revitalizing our neighborhoods.

It is also essential to realize that we also must continue to revitalize our Downtown, which is a also neighborhood of its own, as well as work with business and industry in redevelopment. Neighborhood revitalization should not be in competition with businesses and institutions because we need both.

No matter the results of the election, the candidates’ discussion about neighborhood revitalization bodes well for the city as a whole.

Presentation by Marianne Morton, Executive Director of Common Wealth Development, Friday Oct 5 @ Noon

One of the many vacant properties in La Crosse that could benefit from a CDC

Marianne Morton, Executive Director of Common Wealth Development in Madison has graciously agreed to come to La Crosse on Friday, October 5 at Noon @ the Southside Community Center, 1300 6th St S. She will give a short slide presentation, followed by Q&A.

This is the 4th meeting hosted by Livable Neighborhoods to discuss the formation of a community development corporation in La Crosse. The impetus for these discussions were the Joint City-County of La Crosse Housing Task Force recommendations in their January 2012 report, including formation of a “Private Equity Group” to partner with private sources of capital to help improve our communities.

Community development corporations (CDCs) are non-profit, volunteer organizations that typically access private capital and invest it into improving housing and neighborhood businesses. CDCs also organize community groups and invest sweat equity into community improvements.

Sandwiches and beverages will be provided (Please reply by Thursday, Oct 4.)

Discussion for a La Crosse Neighborhood Development Corporation

918 5th Ave S

You’re Invited to Join the Discussion!

La Crosse Neighborhood Development Corporation

Friday, August 31st @ Noon

La Crosse Public Library Auditorium (Basement)

800 Main St

Sandwiches and Beverages Provided

The Joint City-County of La Crosse Housing Task Force made a number of recommendations in their January 2012 report, including formation of a “Private Equity Group” to partner with private sources of capital to help improve our communities.

This is the third organizational meeting hosted by Livable Neighborhoods. Organizational structure and an outline for a business plan are on the agenda for this meeting, as well as an assessment of opportunities and resources.

Livable Neighborhoods Hosts a Discussion for a La Crosse Area Community Development Corporation

The City has more distressed properties than ever before. This one has been condemned and unless a private developer is willing and able to step in and renovate or redevelop, it will sit vacant and then eventually be razed - meaning another expense for taxpayers as well as a loss of tax base.

You’re Invited to Join the Discussion!

Community Development Corporation

 Friday, July 13th @ Noon

Southside Community Center

1300 6th St S

Sandwiches and Beverages Provided

The Joint City-County of La Crosse Housing Task Force made a number of recommendations in their January 2012 report, including formation of a “Private Equity Group” to partner with private sources of capital to help improve our communities.

Brian Fukuda, La Crosse County Economic Development Specialist will give a brief overview on CDCs and the options in Wisconsin.

This is the second organizational meeting hosted by Livable Neighborhoods. The first, held on June 3rd, the discussion focused on this presentation. The purpose is to discuss how best to make this recommendation a reality in 2012.

Many communities have a Community Development Corporation (CDC) to advocate for and invest in improvements in housing and neighborhood businesses. This CDC(s) is in addition to Business Development Corporations (BDCs) such as LADCO in La Crosse that advocate for and invest in improvements in commercial and/or industrial properties.

A CDC is typically a non-profit 501(c)3 tax exempt organization that educates the people on the importance of investing in our neighborhoods. A CDC can be as general or as specific in focus as the organizers determine is best for their community and is really only limited by the available resources to educate and invest.

Our recommendations for a CDC as a starting point for the discussion are:

  • Form a new CDC rather than add another purpose to an existing organization to avoid any dilution of focus
  • The new CDC should focus on those areas that are the most stressed, which would be the three neighborhoods identified by the Task Force, but should not be limited to just these neighborhoods or just the City of La Crosse
  • The new CDC should focus on developing new housing as well as renovating existing housing, including both owner occupied and rental housing
  • The new CDC should include developing and renovating neighborhood businesses and institutions, especially those that may enhance the livability of a neighborhood as well as the entire community
  • The CDC should also support historical, cultural and natural preservation as well as environmental sustainability
  • The new CDC should work with existing government and non-government organizations (NGOs) and avoid duplication of efforts

Please join us and share your visions and ideas on how best to fulfill this need in our community. If you know of someone that would be interested or have something to offer to this discussion, please share.

For more information contact Charley Weeth 608-784-3212

Please reply by Wednesday, July 12th 

Livable Neighborhoods hosts discussion on a Community Development Corp

Residents and officials on a recent Walking Tour of the Powell-Hood Hamilton Neighborhood discuss a recent change to an owner occupied home in partnership with Gundersen-Lutheran

You’re Invited to Join the Discussion!

Community Development Corporation

 Friday, June 1st @ Noon

Southside Community Center

1300 6th St S

Sandwiches and Beverages Provided

 The Joint City-County of La Crosse Housing Task Force made a number of recommendations in their January 2012 report, including formation of a “Private Equity Group” to partner with private sources of capital to help improve our communities.

Livable Neighborhoods is organizing a meeting for the purpose of discussing how best to make this recommendation a reality in 2012.

Many communities have a Community Development Corporation (CDC) to advocate for and invest in improvements in housing and neighborhood businesses. This CDC(s) is in addition to Business Development Corporations (BDCs) such as LADCO in La Crosse that advocate for and invest in improvements in commercial and/or industrial properties.

A CDC is typically a non-profit 501(c)3 tax exempt organization that educates the people on the importance of investing in our neighborhoods. A CDC can be as general or as specific in focus as the organizers determine is best for their community and is really only limited by the available resources to educate and invest.

Our recommendations for a CDC as a starting point for the discussion are:

  • Form a new CDC rather than add another purpose to an existing organization to avoid any dilution of focus
  • The new CDC should focus on those areas that are the most stressed, which would be the three neighborhoods identified by the Task Force, but should not be limited to just these neighborhoods or just the City of La Crosse
  • The new CDC should focus on developing new housing as well as renovating existing housing, including both owner occupied and rental housing
  • The new CDC should include developing and renovating neighborhood businesses and institutions, especially those that may enhance the livability of a neighborhood as well as the entire community
  • The CDC should also support historical, cultural and natural preservation as well as environmental sustainability
  • The new CDC should work with existing government and non-government organizations (NGOs) and avoid duplication of efforts

Please join us and share your visions and ideas on how best to fulfill this need in our community. If you know of someone that would be interested or have something to offer to this discussion, please share.

For more information contact Charley Weeth 608-784-3212

Please reply by Wednesday, May 30th