1773RE: [LandCafe] No land price with full land tax - simply is not true
- Nov 26, 2006Dave 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
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
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