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This book examines how privatization has transformed cities, particularly through the role of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in the revitalization of America’s downtown. These public-private partnerships between property owners and municipal government have developed retail strips across the United States into lifestyle and commercial hubs. BIDs are non-profit community organizations with the public power to tax and spend on services in their districts, but they are unelected bodies often operating in the shadows of local government. They work as agents of economic development, but are they democratic? What can we learn from BIDs about the accountability of public-private partnerships, and how they impact our lives as citizens? Unger explores these questions of local democracy and urban political economy in this age of rampant privatization and the reinvention of neighborhoods.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Privatization in the Neighborhood

Privatization has become one of the most powerful currents in global policy debates (Henig 1989; Kantor and Savitch 2002; Barber 2014). It has become a widely advocated policy in urban redevelopment (Gormley 1991; Judge et al. 1995). Henig wrote that “Notions that seemed provocative but quaint when first introduced by Milton Friedman four decades ago now occupy center stage” (Henig 2003, p. 38). In the USA, privatization commonly refers to government contracting out service delivery to private providers (Gormley 1991; Handler 1996; Henig 1989; Judge et al. 1995).
Abraham Unger

Chapter 2. The Structure of Bids: Public–Private Hybrids

This chapter offers a structural assessment of BID publicness and privateness. It builds upon the introductory description of BIDs and public–private behavioral perspectives discussed in the previous chapter. I’ll render here a full portrait of BIDs’ formal institutional character. It was suggested in Chap. 1 that BIDs are public–private hybrids since they are private organizations charged with the public power of taxation. That contention will now be established with greater specificity.
Abraham Unger

Chapter 3. The Real Lives of BIDs

BIDs tell a story of the privatized economic rebirth of city centers. It is true that, according to their members, BIDs are a success story in terms of their revitalization of deindustrialized downtowns (Symes and Steel 2003, p. 311). This is largely because BIDs have generally succeeded in raising local property values (Ellen et al. 2007) since “the ultimate aim of BIDs is to increase profits to its members” (Kennedy 1996, p. 299). This increase in property values is associated with an overall improvement in a BID’s neighborhood quality of life, such as a decrease in district crime (Hoyt 2005). BIDs therefore fit in neatly with their advocates’ position that privately managed contracted service delivery is simply more effective than government (Mitchell 1999).
Abraham Unger

Chapter 4. How BIDs Behave: Publicness and Privateness in BID Organizational Life

Organizational differences between state and private associations are difficult to define.1 Behavioral boundaries marking public and private sectors have been characterized as “fuzzy.”2 Private government theory contends that both public and private organizations share basic features common to all institutions that exercise authority. As mentioned in the opening chapter, these theorists posit that the thread of governance runs through all institutions in society. Regardless of public or private status, organizations contain rules, personnel, plans, and programs.3 Furthermore, both public and private institutions maintain sanctions used against constituents who break their rules.4
Abraham Unger

Chapter 5. DSBS and BIDs: Advocacy, Not Oversight

This chapter examines another dimension of BIDs’ publicness and privateness. It considers the quality of municipal oversight over BIDs. Chapter 1 posited that voluntary associations are free to operate without public standards of checks on their behavior such as scheduled evaluation reports and other oversight mechanisms.
Abraham Unger

Chapter 6. Epilogue

This book has asked whether BIDs behave publicly in central areas of organizational life since they contain a broad governmental purpose. An answer to that question demands illumination of public and private institutional behaviors. That project has been the task of the study.
Abraham Unger

Backmatter

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