Just Economics, LLC

Just Economics, LLC Just Economics helps communities harmonize economic incentives with public policy objectives for job creation, affordable housing & sustainability.

Just Economics provides public policy and policy implementation research and advice to governmental entities, associations and interest groups with a focus on harmonizing economic incentives with public policy objectives for job creation, affordable housing, transportation efficiencies and sustainable development.

Mission: Help communities create economic incentives for job creation, affordable housing, transportation efficiency and sustainable economic development.

Operating as usual

Chuck Marohn and Joe Minicozzi deserve praise for unlocking this wisdom about healthy cities and towns. Today, cities an...
The Numbers Don't Lie — Strong Towns

Chuck Marohn and Joe Minicozzi deserve praise for unlocking this wisdom about healthy cities and towns. Today, cities and towns are characterized in the center by surface parking lots and vacant or under-utilized buildings while big box malls sprout on the fringes where crops should be sprouting instead. We are wasting our town centers and despoiling the countryside. If we want to preserve rural areas for agriculture, conservation and recreation, we need to cure our cities.

But, if "smart growth" is so smart, why is there so much "dumb growth?" Are we stupid? No we're not. But there are powerful economic incentives that encourage sprawl. Fortunately, communities are coming up with remedies to harmonize economic incentives with public policy objectives for job creation, affordable housing and sustainable development. Of the many remedies being employed, some of the most important include:
* Performance-based parking pricing;
* Distance- and congestion-based roadway fees;
* Land value return and recycling; and
* Zoning reform.

Let's not simply be angry or sad about the environmental damage and expensive infrastructure costs associated with sprawl. Let's roll up our sleeves and implement reforms that have proven effective in preserving the environment, creating jobs, reducing housing costs and reducing infrastructure requirements (allowing for lower taxes)!

To have enduring prosperity, a community cannot squander its land; it must develop in ways that are financially productive.

Episode #17 — Sustainable and Just Economic DevelopmentRick Rybeck, attorney and director of Just Economics LLCIn this e...
Rebooting Capitalism Podcast

Episode #17 — Sustainable and Just Economic Development
Rick Rybeck, attorney and director of Just Economics LLC

In this episode, Jennifer Cantero and Rick Rybeck explore how private money can actually help the community and infrastructure. Rybeck shares some enlightening stories of how private and public money benefitted each other and the community. November is approaching, and Rick’s insights will come in handy when you’re looking over your local ballots.

What You Will Learn:

What user fees and access fees are and their benefits.
Why “just economics” isn’t an oxymoron.
Why HOW we pay for things is just as important as HOW MUCH we pay.
Why urban sprawl is bad for our pocketbooks.
How Pennsylvania maintained affordable housing by reorienting their property taxes.

Rebooting Capitalism is a podcast that digs into why traditional capitalism is broken and what people are doing to fix it. We hope our guests and topics will inform and inspire others to use business as a force for good.

A well-written article about enhancing job creation and affordable housing in cities.
Why Minneapolis needs a Land Value Tax

A well-written article about enhancing job creation and affordable housing in cities.

This image shows a mostly undeveloped parking lot, occupying a full block of prime real estate in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Why does this lot remain underdeveloped? The owner of the land c…

Some of the complexities involved in current "Takings" jurisprudence.
Koontz: Clarity or Calamity? - ppt download

Some of the complexities involved in current "Takings" jurisprudence.

This presentation: Pre-Koontz context Facts of Koontz Supreme Court rulings Critique of Koontz rulings



Some people are aghast at the slogans "Defund the police." or "Abolish the police." These slogans fail to convey the core idea which is that the police are often called to deal with issues of related to mental health or interpersonal relationships. Mental health workers and social workers are better-equipped to deal with these issues, and the notion is to transfer funding from police to other services that are better trained and equipped to deal effectively and safely with the problems.

The article below notes how much time police spend dealing with traffic enforcement and responding to crashes. Reducing sprawl could reduce the need for police to handle these situations, freeing up time and resources to deal with crime.

Labor and Green parties in Europe have been calling for a tax reform whereby taxes on privately-created building values ...
The case for a land value tax - Young Conservative Network

Labor and Green parties in Europe have been calling for a tax reform whereby taxes on privately-created building values would be reduced and taxes on publicly-created land values would increase. Now the conservatives are joining in. Perhaps we could find this policy option as a first step toward reconciling left and the right.

LVT must be a high priority for the next budget, writes Tom

ECONOMIC RECOVERY & COMMUNITY SOLVENCYAre you interested in:* How can communities perform better economically?* How can ...
Land Value Return and Recycling for Prosperity, Sustainability and Equity – hgsss.org


Are you interested in:
* How can communities perform better economically?
* How can communities create more jobs without having the price of housing go through the roof?
* How can communities reduce sprawl to protect the environment, reduce pollution and reduce infrastructure costs?
* How can communities obtain revenue for necessary services without wrecking their economic vitality?
* How can communities become more equitable?
* Is "ethical economics" an oxymoron?

These topics, and more, will be covered in 5 online classes, every Thursday evening beginning on May 21st. To register, see https://www.hgsss.org/land-value-return-and-recycling-for-prosperity-sustainability-and-equity/ .



In many companies, some (or all) employees are offered free parking. But employees who use other transportation modes receive no benefit.

The Council of the District of Columbia recently enacted the Transportation Benefits Equity Act, a bill that requires employers who offer a parking benefit to offer comparable benefits to employees to use other transportation modes to get to work. This is important both in terms of equity and in terms of reducing traffic congestion caused by financial incentives that encourage excessive use of single-occupant vehicles.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth and other transportation advocates deserve the credit for making this happen. A summary of the legislation (and a link to the legislation itself) can be found on their website at https://www.smartergrowth.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ParkingCashOut_DC_Bill-23-148-factsheet-version-4.pdf?emci=d83d109d-0679-ea11-a94c-00155d03b1e8&emdi=cd16ba1c-9d79-ea11-a94c-00155d03b1e8&ceid=126754 .


During normal times, being a bus driver is one of the toughest jobs in any city. The driver must keep a schedule, collect fares, be a tour guide and care for the safety of people on and around his bus while others drive crazy all around.

Now, with Covid-19, bus drivers, maintenance workers and others are exposed to potentially deadly viruses. I salute the transit workers of America for performing above and beyond the call of duty.


On March 3rd, at the Louisiana Transportation Conference, I'll be talking about land value return and recycling (LVRR) as a way to fund infrastructure projects while simultaneously integrating these facilities with more compact and efficient land use patterns. LVRR can also help create jobs and make housing more affordable. Afterwards, I'll spend a few days in New Orleans. If anybody would like to meet with me to discuss LVRR in Baton Rouge (March 3 or 4) or in New Orleans (March 5 - 9), please let me know.


Just see it!



The Washington Post talks about the need to increase funding for affordable housing near new Purple Line transit stations in nearby Montgomery County and Prince Georges County. (See https://www.



This one-hour webinar, hosted by the Strong Towns Facebook group, begins with a 20-minute presentation about how tax reform can improve affordability, sustainability and equity in communities. This is followed by a Q&A session for the remainder of the time. There's a little dead time at the beginning. So advance to 3 minutes and 40 seconds where the presentation begins.



Just Economics was established in November of 2009. Starting a new business in the midst of a deep recession was probably not the best idea ever. But good things are happening. The US Department of Transportation has a program, "Every Day Counts" that helps state and local governments implement innovative ideas. Right now, I'm helping out regarding new infrastructure funding techniques. If I can help your community harmonize economic incentives with public policy objectives for job creation, affordable housing, transportation efficiency and sustainable development, please let me know.



Tim Iglesias, editor of the Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law, writes:
In “Avoiding Mis-Givings: Recycling Community-Created Land Values for Affordability, Sustainability and Equity,” Rick Rybeck, Director of Just Economics, explains what he calls “the infrastructure conundrum” in which local governments create infrastructure to facilitate and support development, causing increases in land prices and rents near the infrastructure, which provides a windfall gain to owners of well-served sites, an incentive for land speculation, sprawl and other negative consequences. Framing the benefits to land owners as “givings,” he urges local governments to employ land value return and recycling strategies by shifting taxes off of building values and onto land values. He argues that these policies have been effective in numerous localities and that they can promote more affordable, sustainable and equitable development. Seehttps://www.justeconomicsllc.com/pdfs/Avoiding%20MisGivings%20-%2014%20Rybeck%20final%20proofs.pdf

AFFORDABLE HOUSING:Providing affordable housing in the Washington DC Region (or any region) is complex.  The Urban Insti...
Meeting the Washington Region’s Future Housing Needs

Providing affordable housing in the Washington DC Region (or any region) is complex. The Urban Institute has just released a report highlighting 12 policies that can help increase both the supply and affordability of housing. Although often overlooked, the Urban Institute report mentions the negative impact of land speculation and the use of land value return and recycling as a remedy. Land value return and recycling, if properly designed and implemented, can simultaneously reduce the cost of both buildings and land, without requiring any increase in spending or any loss in revenue. In addition to more affordable housing, this reform increases employment as well. Additionally, land value return and recycling can promote infill development, thereby reducing sprawl and making infrastructure more efficient.

The report notes that the ability of this reform to reduce the market price of housing fails to address the needs of the very poor. But, reducing the market price of housing reduces the gap between market prices and 30% of income. As a result, limited funding for low-income housing assistance can help more families once this reform is enacted.


The Washington region faces serious housing challenges that undermine many residents’ well-being. Constrained housing supply, coupled with regional growth, pushes up rents and prices for existing housing. These pressures cause especially steep housing cost increases and displacement in some commun...

GOVERNING Magazine talks about an old idea that's getting a new look by municipalities around the country.  https://www....
The Revival of an Old Tax Idea

GOVERNING Magazine talks about an old idea that's getting a new look by municipalities around the country. https://www.governing.com/topics/finance/gov-land-tax.html?utm_term=Leaning%20on%20the%20Land&utm_campaign=Leaning%20on%20the%20Land&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email . At the federal level, the Federal Highway Administration is featuring "value capture" as an innovative approach for infrastructure funding. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc_5/value_capture.cfm

More and more communities are considering reviving an old tax idea that’s been tried in only a few places.

Build Maine

My talk, LAND VALUE RETURN & RECYCLING FOR PROSPERITY, SUSTAINABILITY & EQUITY at Build Maine on June 6, 2019 in Lewiston, Maine. Other presentations can be viewed at the Build Maine page.

Rick Rybeck speaking at Build Maine 2019 about LAND VALUE RETURN & RECYCLING: Funding Infrastructure For Prosperity, Sustainability & Equity.


INFRASTRUCTURE PAYS FOR ITSELF: Land Value Return & Recycling Pays for Transit and Streets

May 14th, noon until 1pm, hear the story how landowners helped pay for a new Metrorail Transit Station and adjacent streets. The NoMa-Galluadet Station is also noteworthy as an "infill" station and as a station that was integrated by design with an adjacent hiker-biker trail (Metropolitan Branch Trail). CONVENE AT NOON at the NoMa-Gallaudet Station Entrance, 2nd & N Streets, NE, Washington, DC.

#infrastructure #jobs #sustainability #equity #affordablehousing #prosperity #transit #infrastructureweek

Build Maine is a conference in Lewiston, ME on June 5 and 6 that will explore how to create more economically viable, li...
Build Maine

Build Maine is a conference in Lewiston, ME on June 5 and 6 that will explore how to create more economically viable, livable and sustainable communities and neighborhoods. I'm on the program. For more info, see http://www.build-maine.com/program-2

Direct Action Organizing is about organizing around an issue to win a change. We focus on how to plan and implement effective issue advocacy through organizing people to act together and think strategically. The purpose of the training being offered is to learn how to plan strategy by understanding...

FUNDING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR PROSPERITY, SUSTAINABILITY & EQUITYThe Transportation Research Board has just posted a presen...
TRB Straight to Recording for All: Funding Infrastructure With Land Value Capture: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly | Blurbs New | Blurbs | Main


The Transportation Research Board has just posted a presentation about funding techniques for transportation (and other) infrastructure. These techniques, if properly designed and implemented, can reduce sprawl, congestion and pollution while increasing housing affordability and jobs. See http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/178905.aspx

Contact me if your community wants to move in this direction.

TRB released a recording in March 2019 that discusses value capture financing. Land value capture may help communities achieve transportation, environmental, economic development, and fiscal self-sufficiency goals. The presenter defines value capture funding and financing. He also differentiates var...

Smart Talk with Rick Rybeck

A new Smart Talk is here, be sure to check it out!

Land Value Return and Recycling – An approach for self-sustaining urban infrastructure.

In this edition of Smart Talk, Joshua Vincent speaks with Rick Rybeck, Director of Just Economics LLC about Land Value Return and Recycling, a policy tool that helps communities recover and reinvest increases in land values resulting from publicly-funded infrastructure. The lively conversation reveals the dysfunctions and inefficiencies in our existing funding mechanisms, and stresses the case for LVRR, a proven device for sustainable urban growth and financially self-sustaining infrastructure.

For more Smart Talk's visit: https://www.hgsss.org/smart-talk

Land Value Return and Recycle - A Georgist formula for self-sustaining urban infrastructures In this edition of Smart Talk, Joshua Vincent speaks with Rick R...

SOLVING ECONOMIC PROBLEMS & CLIMATE CHANGEThere are endless articles about traffic congestion, poverty, urban sprawl, cl...
Strong Towns Media — Strong Towns


There are endless articles about traffic congestion, poverty, urban sprawl, climate change, blight, transit, gentrification, lack of affordable housing, stagnant wages and growing inequality. Often, these articles describe problems without offering solutions. And solutions to one problem may exacerbate another. Thus, some advocate urban growth boundaries (UGBs) to combat sprawl. But, in a growing region, UGBs will raise housing prices unless the boundary is created so far out that it becomes meaningless. Rent control can slow down rent increases, but it can reduce maintenance and new construction which are also necessary. And programs to improve low-income neighborhoods are often accompanied by increases in land prices and rents, displacing the intended beneficiaries.

"Land reform" is rarely mentioned, except as an issue for third-world countries. Yet the way we control and manage land lies at the heart of all the problems mentioned above.

Strong Towns is hosting a series of articles each day this week about land stewardship. You can find them at https://www.strongtowns.org/journal?category=Land+Value+Tax+Series . Come back each day for the next article.

Question of the Week: Why Are Building Setbacks Sometimes Undesirable? February 22, 2019 Your Strong Towns Knowledge Base question of the week, answered here.


1669 Columbia Rd NW, Ste 116
Washington D.C., DC

42 Bus stops here. S2, S4 stops are 1 block away. DC Circulator Bus stops on Columbia Rd at 15th St & at Ontario Rd, NW. Columbia Heights Metro Stop (Green Line) is a 10-minute walk.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00


(202) 439-4176


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Roadway pricing, if properly implemented, can improve quality of life, the environment, and the fiscal health of urban areas. But the devil (and the angels) are in the details. LEXUS LANES - One of the first places in the USA to employ High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes conducted a poll. Certainly, affluent people used them more than others. HOWEVER, they were important to some low- and middle-income people as well. For example, you're picking up your kid at day-care. You're stuck in traffic and there's a $20 late fee. It's worth it to pay $5 to use the HOT lane and avoid the $20 late fee. Plumbers, electricians, landscapers, etc. spend lots of time going between jobs. With access to HOT lanes, they can get an additional job each day, more than offsetting the cost. REGRESSIVE TAX - Except for air and water, nothing is more essential than food. But food isn't free. We pay for food. We pay more for steak than hamburger. BUT, we provide food stamps for low-income folks. We could do the same for transportation. ALSO, low-income folks depend on transit. Transit buses get stuck in traffic. Slow and unreliable transit can cause workers to lose their jobs. Priced roads can help the poor in at least two ways: First, congestion reduction makes buses quicker and more reliable. Second, some of the toll revenues should be used to operate, maintain and improve transit. BUSINESS COSTS: Roadway prices, paid for deliveries, will be passed through to customers. BUT, lower congestion will reduce delivery times, and this will reduce costs that, in a competitive environment, will also be passed through. INCENTIVES - Some places (e.g. London) use "cordon pricing." Thus, drivers pay a fee to cross a boundary (e.g., into the central business district). Initially, those who don't have any choice, will grumble and pay the fee. But, in the long term, some residents and businesses will avoid the fee by moving away from the center. Thus cordon pricing motivates sprawl -- one of the major causes of auto-dependency and congestion. A BETTER APPROACH is to apply roadway pricing by the mile over the entire length of the priced roadway system. The fee should rise when the roadway is congested and fall when it isn't. To minimize the fee in the short term, drivers will make discretionary trips at off-peak times. In the long-term, people will locate homes and businesses closer to the activities that they engage in regularly. Thus a mileage-based pricing system encourages more compact development, and this promotes walking, cycling and economically viable transit as alternatives to auto dependency.
A good explanation of an often-overlooked approach to resolving the housing crisis and about why so few of us know about it.
Despite some nods toward "smart growth," urban sprawl continues unabated. Transportation costs rise as a result. They are to the economy like friction is to a machine. They wear it down and make it less productive. Sprawl often requires a car trip for each and every activity outside the home. This is very expensive for our pocket books and very damaging to the environment. Achieving a better balance between transportation user fees and access fees can promote more compact development. This would increase transportation options (walking cycling, transit, car-sharing, etc.), reduce household and business transportation costs and enhance the environment. Let me know if you want the details.