Alex Schmidt, reporting for Boom:

To see what a city formed around a power center looks like going forward, one need look no further than Phoenix, which has been dependent on sales tax for a long time. The incentive is to continue to build sales tax generating centers at the edge of the city, nearer the highway, to capture the consumption of people who live in surrounding areas, and development simply keeps sprawling outward. On the other hand, a property-tax-dependent city has no interest in moving the border of the city. It is interested in increasing the value of land and one way of doing that is having more dense areas, more amenities located in proximity to population.

At issue is how new cities can incorporate in California. Incorporations surged, if I’m not mistaken, following the allocation of vehicle registration fees to localities. But now with that money gone, they’re stuck unless they have a sales tax base (property taxes in the state are severely restricted, depriving municipalities of revenue). 

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