New York’s New Mayor de Blasio to Push New Tax Shift
|December 13, 2013||Posted by Staff under Good Press|
This 2013 excerpt of Crain’s New York Business, Nov 24, is by Joe Anuta.
Prime vacant lots spurred Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in April to push for tax hikes on vacant land to force owners either to put theirs to use and build housing or to sell it to those who will. As mayor-elect, Mr. de Blasio is pledging to carry out his idea, which today would affect more than 10,500 lots in the five boroughs.
“It would drive the price of land down and increase development, to the extent the tax increases are significant,” predicted Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services. “The more expensive [vacant land becomes to hold], the less of it you will get—that’s Economics 101.”
The plan could also provide a significant jolt of new revenue for the city that could go toward an affordable-housing program. Mr. de Blasio estimated his plan would eventually generate $162 million annually.
Upping the cost of inactivity for landowners would pay dividends by reducing the number of empty lots, which not only become magnets for crime, garbage and vermin, but also drive down neighboring property values—and city tax revenue.
“It doesn’t hurt developers like me,” one businessman said. “I’ll gladly pay the higher taxes for the few years I hold a property if it helps to stop long-term speculation.”
Mr. de Blasio’s plan is nearly identical to a campaign that was successfully waged in Manhattan in 2007 by Borough President Scott Stringer and state lawmakers, which resulted in the tax change being made to all properties north of 110th Street.
Will Mr. de Blasio have any luck in persuading Albany to pass it without the help of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has not weighed in on the issue?
Ed. Notes: New York did something like this nearly a century ago. They’re due! This time, maybe such sensible policy will spread.