Developers are often cast in the villain role when they appear in a neighborhood with plans to develop or redevelop land for more intensive commercial or residential uses. Local government often must balance the tax windfall that new development may generate against the quality of life impacts upon existing property owners. The torrent of new multi-family housing, without addressing gentrification and the absence of affordable housing, brings this dilemma into sharp focus. Whereas local politics has traditionally been somewhat boring fare, those seeking local office are now focused on the side effects of new development.
Balancing these competing interests is possible, but it takes a high degree of cooperation between developers and communities. For example, the housing boom in Newark, New Jersey, has balanced the needs of vulnerable communities while keeping the welcome mat out for new development. Unfortunately, striking a balance requires elected officials to engage in proactive planning rather than reactionary policy. Municipal land use planning can prove difficult for many reasons.