Blighting, spot blighting, and tax abatement

What's happening in our built environment.
These days a lot of people are questioning the city's use of blighting and tax abatement as an incentive to attract new development. They say the current system is arbitrary and doled out at the whim of aldermen via the quaint practice of "aldermanic courtesy". They say areas not blighted are nonetheless still seeing "spot blights", where individual lots are being blighted by the Board of Aldermen, providing for ten- year abatements in otherwise improving neighborhoods. And then they point to studies showing the hundreds of millions of dollars being forfeited by the city in favor of these tax abatements.

Just now we are seeing another of these aldermanic turf wars unfolding. Alderman Coatar is proposing a TIF (similar to abatement, except that the developer uses new taxes to pay for project-related costs), for the second phase of Ballpark Village. Alderman Ogilvie pointed out that, years ago, Cordish said they could build Ballpark Village without subsidy. Coatar counters that only "new taxes" would go to the project; that the city's existing taxes would not be involved. Ah, yes. Wouldn't it be nice if somehow the city could actually realize those "new taxes"? Some aldermen are looking at a line in the sand.

What to do?
Stltoday - St. Louis eyes new guidelines for tax abatement
St. Louis economic development officials are finalizing a map to guide where property tax abatement will be offered in the city as part of a months-long effort to establish more parameters for the commonly used incentive. ... 97e26.html
Are there any actual guidelines for how development projects qualify for abatements or is it all on a case-by-case basis? There isn’t any specific information other than to contact the city here: ... ancing.cfm. I looked at some of the TIF-financed project reports and it looks like decisions are made on a cost-benefit, need and credit basis.
Wish the PD Ed Board would recognize and scrutinize the subsidies given to spread-out auto-oriented development patterns. The extra infrastructure, more costly service delivery, and cheap//free parking is in the league of tax incentives for luxury housing. Worse perhaps since the subsidies are in perpetuity rather than the term of the abatement of TIF.

StlToday - Editorial: New map, tighter guidelines could help restrain misuse of city tax incentives
A new map is circulating among aldermen that should help decision-makers visualize where tax abatements have been granted in contrast to the geographic areas in the direst need of help. The two don’t match up near as much as they should, often resulting in a wasteful diversion of tax revenues. ... 3162b.html
Nextstl - SLDC Proposes New Guidelines for Tax Abatement

Those actually don't sound too bad. Good first step, in any case.