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1773RE: [LandCafe] No land price with full land tax - simply is not true

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  • Edward Dodson
    Nov 26, 2006
      Dave Wetzel wrote:

      ... I'd also like to see some derelict urban
      sites used for leisure purposes, urban farms, wildlife sanctuaries,
      parks etc. These uses will not capture land value directly as they will
      not produce revenues with which to pay rent but they will increase the
      value of other sites in the neighbourhood.

      When I was the Leader of Hounslow Council (pop. 200,000) we did create
      an urban farm close to Heathrow airport on land which would have had a
      high value as freight forwarding offices and warehousing, a wildlife
      trust on land in Chiswick with unique flora and fauna on which the owner
      wanted to develop expensive offices and also a community swimming pool
      on land earmarked for housing.

      Ed Dodson here:
      As someone who spent over 30 years in the community development arena, I
      came to appreciate the value of the planning process -- so long as people
      affected by the decisions are materially involved in making those decisions.
      Until the last 20 years or so that we not the case here in the U.S. (and, I
      suspect, even less the case in the U.K.).

      The older cities here in the U.S. grew based on the transportation means and
      technologies available in each era. Until relatively recently, we had almost
      no concerted effort of historical preservation. The fact that our Eastern
      Seaboard cities have historical districts still intact is more an accident.
      For several decades, those of any means abandoned the cities for surrounding
      towns that had little or no polluting industries, leaving workers as tenants
      in crumbling 18th and 19th century buildings. Then, when the industries shut
      down and left, many of these buildings ended up vacant, boarded-up and very
      often demolished. Gradually, slowly, painfully, the city neighborhoods with
      once-grand residential structures attracted a new category of urban dweller
      -- people who appreciated the cultural amenities of the cities, who worked
      in the professions and had plenty of income to acquire and return
      deterioriated shells to better-than-original condition.

      These residents are far more politically involved and influential. They
      demand more open space in their neighborhoods. They demand better public
      services. The main outcome was rapid gentrification of many neighborhoods,
      with lower income renters the first to be displaced, followed by lower
      income homeowners (which were few and far between in most cities).

      A reaction of sorts then occurred. Advocates for the needs of lower income
      households began to organize to get government to provide funds to subsidize
      housing construction and rehabilitation, mostly in neighborhoods where the
      municipal government had acquired ownership of properties abandoned by
      owners. To attract buyers to areas where schools might not be considered
      very good and where few stores and professional services were closely
      available, the price for housing was set so that a household with an income
      of, say, 60-80% of the city's median income would be eligible; in this way,
      the housing units were rationed. Some of these programs were structured so
      that the subsidy came in the form of a forgivable, zero-interest loan, a
      portion of which was forgiven every year the occupants remained in the
      property. Also, some programs have had resale restrictions (e.g., the
      housing unit had to be resold to a household with the same maximum allowable
      income as a percentage of the city's median).

      In already-gentrifying areas, some degree of mixed-income development is
      being assured by the use of inclusionary zoning requirements on developers.
      If a developer wants to construct 100 "market rate" units, the city might
      approve an increase in density to 125 units but require that 25 units be
      priced to be affordable to households up to some maximum of the city's
      median. Here's an irony for you. In a high cost city like New York, most
      subsidy programs set the household income limit at 165% of the area median.
      There are other high cost housing markets in the U.S. with similarly high
      income limits.

      My observation is that these efforts, though all struggling to achieve
      critical mass effect because of our destructive tax system, can be
      constructive -- but only if the process if one of consensus building and
      inclusive. Top down decisions made by planners sitting somewhere in
      isolation have in most cases only accelerated the rate of community
      devastation.
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