The goal of every urban government is to provide residents a high quality of life, which not only includes the benefits associated with high-quality jobs, but also a vibrant economy filled with excellent amenities and supported by well-maintained infrastructure. Building a robust business tax base is one recognized strategy in California for cities to adequately fund general expenses and capital infrastructure, given, for example, state restrictions on property taxes. This strategy is particularly relevant to Stockton given its history of bankruptcy following the Recession and its “brain drain” challenge of keeping high-quality talent from leaving for economic opportunities in the Bay Area and elsewhere. One useful related indicator is the jobs to employed residents (J/ER) ratio; the higher this ratio, the greater the share of business and sales tax relative to property tax, and the less likely the region is a “bedroom community” in which there are more people at night than during the day. For reference, a city like San Jose is unique to have its metropolitan core location yet have a J/ER ratio less than 1; nearby cities like Palo Alto approach a J/ER ratio of 3.
If Stockton is to reinvent its economy, a key goal should be to increase its J/ER ratio while ensuring the quality of those jobs. To do so, it must aggressively attract high-quality businesses and support the growth of its existing ones, so that its number of jobs may increase more quickly than its population. Historical data for both population and jobs will help us understand the baseline performance of Stockton and its surrounding region in this regard, as well as allow us to forecast what “business-as-usual” looks like into the future. Then, J/ER ratio targets can be set in comparison to business-as-usual, which can be achieved through the kinds of economic development strategies explored in this report.
Of course, both job and population growth directly impact a city’s environmental footprint. In Chapter 2, we will prepare a baseline assessment of Stockton’s greenhouse gas inventory, our primary indicator of environmental performance. Importantly, GHGs should be disaggregated as much as possible into residential and non-residential (commercial, industrial, agricultural) sectors and normalized by respective populations (residents vs. workers) to understand the GHG use per capita in these different sectors. Stockton’s GHG footprint will almost certainly increase in the coming decades simply due to the increase in jobs and population, but if GHG/capita for each sector can be reduced through the kinds of strategies explored in this report, then it should be considered successful in curbing GHGs – and perhaps the City’s GHG footprint may actually decrease as a whole.
So, in summary, an accurate assessment of current population and jobs, combined with a GHG inventory, helps us measure important indicators of success like J/ER and GHG/capita. And a best estimate of how population and jobs will change in the future shows us what business-as-usual looks like for both economic and environmental health. Given this outlook, Stockton can consider a wide range of possible strategies that stimulate job growth, reduce our environmental footprint, or in the best case scenario, achieve both at the same time, all categorized under the term green economy. The effects of those strategies can be modeled into the future in comparison to business-as-usual to see if they help us achieve our economic and environmental targets. Of course, strategies will also need to be evaluated based on their costs and return on investment, which we will approximate as a $/tCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) in net-present value, similar to the work done in Climate Smart San Jose. After robustly carrying out the quantitative analysis involved, this report will highlight the most promising strategies at the intersection of “green” and “economy” so that future decision-makers can take actionable steps towards a vibrant and sustainable future.