Recent Work

From project conception through project construction, New Economics provides analysis, strategies, and recommendations to a range of issues affecting public and private sector groups. The projects below highlight some of the firm’s recently completed work with developers, public jurisdictions, and other entities.


Vacaville Picture

Decision Point: A developing master-planned area located on the outskirts of the City of Vacaville includes two relatively small properties zoned for commercial. The owners of these parcels questioned whether these parcels would be viable for commercial and could be sustained as commercial uses in the long term.

Assignment: New Economics analyzed the market for small-scale commercial on these sites, considering the spending power from the area’s residents, the competitive shopping alternatives in the area, current retail development trends, and several locational attributes such as location, size, and traffic conditions on adjacent roadways.

Outcome: The Analysis concluded that these sites were not likely to be candidates for commercial development for several reasons, including small sizes (1.0-1.5 acres each), low and diminishing traffic counts expected to occur with planned traffic-calming improvements, and exiting competition form existing neighborhood-serving commercial with more competitive locations.


Pinole Retail Site

Decision Point: The City of Pinole was considering an exclusive sale of a former redevelopment agency site; however, another developer with an alternative plan challenged the City’s ability to execute an exclusive sale as opposed to a public bidding process. Would the City forego potential additional General Fund revenues generated by an alternative development plan? Which proposal would confer the greatest potential benefit to the City?

Assignment: New Economics conducted a preliminary comparison of taxable sales potential for the two proposed alternative retail concepts annually and over a 20-year period. The analysis concluded that the alternative proposal would generate 8-9 times as much annual taxable sales owing to the nature of the particular proposed grocery store and other new retailers.

Outcomes: The City Council cancelled the exclusive sale and consulted with DOF regarding a competitive bid sales process. The competing developer awaits the public auction.


Lincoln ED

Decision Point: An all-volunteer Economic Development Committee (EDC) created a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) to guide economic development efforts for the City of Lincoln. How could the City realistically implement the SAP and undertake other ongoing economic development efforts with only limited staff support?

Assignment: New Economics teamed with Municipal Resource Group to help the City implement the SAP and provide additional economic development staff support. For more than two years, New Economics has worked closely with city staff and the EDC to produce baseline economic data to help the City understand its competitive position within the larger Regional economy; recruit new businesses by providing on-call responses to inquiries, track commercial property listings; strengthening relationships with regional organizations responsible for attracting businesses to Sacramento; improve Lincoln’s image within the City and Region by preparing and implementing media strategies; nurture relationships with the existing business community; and identify opportunities for the City to generate additional General Fund revenues by evaluating City assets and helping to coordinate lease/sale opportunities, as well as analyzing other revenue opportunities (e.g. business license tax rate change). Isabel also served as the interim Economic Development Manager until the position could be permanently filled.

Outcome: The City hired a full-time, permanent Economic Development Manager in September of 2014. New Economics assisted with the transition of responsibilities to new staff and remains as on-call support.


Flood Control

Decision Point: As part of a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency Regional Flood Management Planning effort, various affected stakeholders were interested in understanding the supporting economic fundamentals that shape various “regional flood regions” located throughout the Central Valley of California.

Assignment: New Economics worked with Larsen Wurzel & Associates, Inc., and a consortium of consultants, to prepare a series of Regional Flood Management Plans for several geographic areas throughout California’s Central Valley. New Economics analyzed economic conditions in each of the major Flood Regions, which included population and employment growth, demographics, socio-economics, industry drivers, real estate conditions, etc.

Outcomes: The information provided by New Economics was used to inform the Financial Plan chapter, prepared by Larsen Wurzel & Associates, of each Regional Flood Management Plan. This chapter more broadly assesses each Flood Region’s ability to provide funding for necessary improvements over the next 25-30 years.


Antioch Property Management Plan

Decision Point: A change in redevelopment law was forcing the City to consider how it should dispose of former redevelopment parcels scattered throughout Downtown. Which ones could be retained for “public use”? Which ones could be saved for future disposition?

Assignment: New Economics, in conjunction with Fraser & Associates, was retained to help develop Antioch’s property management plan for former redevelopment agency properties; New Economics analyzed title reports for over 30 Downtown parcels to identify and constraints on future sales, estimated the market value for these properties should they be sold at auction, and made recommendations for parcels that the City may want to retain for future development.

Outcomes: The Property Management Plan was adopted by the Successor Agency in 2014 and is the subject of ongoing negotiations with the California Department of Finance.


Natomas BasinDecision Point: The Natomas Basin Conservancy (TNBC) updates its habitat conservation fee annually. This development impact fee applies to new development in the Natomas area of the City of Sacramento, as well as a portion of unincorporated Sacramento County and Sutter County.

Assignment:New Economics was retained to perform the annual fee update, as well as provide a peer review of the technical model supporting the calculation of the fee.

Outcome:In December 2013, TNBC Board of Directors approved the 2014 fee. The 18% fee increase was primarily associated with a rise in land values, an increase in habitat conversion costs, and the addition of Conservancy organizational staff. The City of Sacramento unanimously approved the new fee in February 2014, and the fee went into effect May 1, 2014.

Sacramento General Plan Update, 2013 – 2014

Sac ParksDecision Point: Where and how can a city invest its limited resources to best stimulate economic development? The City of Sacramento needed to perform a 5-year update of its 2030 General Plan. Following that general plan approval in 2008, Sacramento promptly experienced the effects of a massive recession, including sizeable reductions in revenues, staffing and the delivery of public services, as well as a virtual standstill of new development. To maximize the value of the new 2035 General Plan, the City wanted a clear understanding of economic conditions as well as strategic advice as to invest very limited resources to stimulate near-term economic development.

Assignment: As part of the Consultant Team engaged to update the City’s general plan, New Economics & Advisory conducted three innovative analyses to help the City identify ways to jumpstart economic development. First, to reduce development impact fees Downtown, New Economics researched alternative approaches to parkland development standards for urban areas. Second, New Economics provided a detailed overview of the impacts of the Great Recession on the City and evaluated each community plan area within the City to identify neighborhoods and areas that are exhibiting the highest level of market demand for residential and various types of commercial demand. Third, New Economics partnered with the Consultant Team Engineer to create a Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), a study that identifies and prioritizes 15 key public infrastructure improvements mostly likely to stimulate economic development in the near term. The SIP includes a matrix evaluation that ranks each project based on:

• its ability to facilitate development that the market can absorb by 2020
• the scale of development that can reasonably occur by 2020
• its ability to create jobs
• whether it has a feasible funding strategy
• whether other City projects could be undertaken simultaneously

Outcomes: The parkland research was utilized to explore a lower and more flexible Downtown parkland standard that may be integrated into an updated park impact fee. The economic conditions findings were utilized to identify areas that the City will consider for further investments and/or planning studies.