The Sensible Way to Reduce Sprawl
Green Party Leads All Others in Ideas for Curbing Sprawl
There are ways to contain urban sprawl. One promising approach involves removing the artificial subsidies and distortions that help to create sprawl in the first place.
The mainstream political parties seem very slow to grasp the problems of sprawl or the ways to curb it. However, the Green Party shows a deeper understanding of this issue.
Here is a recent news release from the Green Party of Ontario, Canada.
DE JONG TO EVES: "GO AHEAD, STEAL OUR PLAN!"Frank de Jong, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, today (9/23/2002) offered to share his party's comprehensive plan to fight urban sprawl with the Eves government of Ontario, which today begins its new legislative session.
In a letter to the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, de Jong said:
The Green Party of Ontario is the province's fastest-growing political party. In the coming election, the party will field a full slate of candidates across the province.
- "Looking ahead at the government's fall legislative agenda, we see that the government has no new ideas to curb sprawl. The Green Party of Ontario formally offers the government the details of its plan, which would form the basis of effective new anti-sprawl legislation.
- "The costs of sprawl are smog, farmland loss, wasted commuting time and road construction and maintenance costs. Our solution is to use market mechanisms to end sprawl, encourage redevelopment of existing urban areas into pedestrian-friendly communities, boost transit and reduce vehicle-dependency."
The Green Party of Ontario's plan includes requiring municipalities to assess buildings separate from the land they stand on, then shifting the property tax onto the land and away from the building. This form of land rent or site-value taxation will help end sprawl without government micromanagement.
- "We understand that after seven years in power, the Eves Conservatives have run out of fresh ideas," said de Jong. "That's why we're offering them the Green Party's plan for shifting taxes. Our plan will discourage land speculation, stop sprawl, increase affordable housing and build a Better Way to Live for the people of Ontario."
For further information on the Green Party of Ontario, telephone 416-929-2397 or visit http://www.greenparty.on.ca
More details from DeJong:
Our recommended tax "split and shift" plan is revenue neutral, not a tax grab. Zoning for various types of land use will remain unchanged. The change is that assessors will assess the buildings independently from the land they are built upon, and the land assessment will be based on the optimal usage of the land.
Municipal politicians will decide on the mill rate, but tax bills would be based on the "best use" assessment or best market value of the land. The building will be taxed less - if at all. Landowners will thus be urged to either use the land more efficiently by improving or enlarging the buildings, or to sell to those who would improve them. Improvements or enlargements to buildings will no longer incur increased taxation, which would encourage businesses to expand or upgrade rather than move.
Our "split and shift" plan will encourage smart growth through free enterprise, not through arbitrary or draconian legislation. Specifically, our land-value assessment system would help the Toronto area accommodate the projected 2.7 million people who will move there by 2031 - without developing any land on the Oak Ridges Moraine or other regional farm lands or wildlife habitats.
The shift to levying fees based on the optimal use of the land will discourage poor usage of urban of land. It would discourage land speculation. It will foster more compact, pedestrian-friendly communities throughout the province. It will encourage private and public transit without subsidization and help reduce dependency on smog-causing vehicular transportation.
For more details and creative ideas against sprawl, be sure to visit the Sprawl Information Center
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