Wednesday, June 29, 2005

UPA Properties for sale for $500 minimum. Let's change the ADJACENT policy and extend it farther to better liquidate URA holdings.

The City of Pittsburgh and the URA own a countless number of properties scattered all around the city. These are countless as a real inventory of the property locations and the assets are NOT available. A count and details have been promised, again, to be completed in the next couple of months.

Some of these properties are vacant lots. The lots are in neighborhoods. Often, these were homes that were left to rot and have since been torn down. The city can take the property's deed when taxes are not paid.

As the city owns the properties, the city needs to from time to time, go there and mow the grass and do minor upkeep.

If there is a city owned lot or a paper street (that's a slightly different matter but still has many of the same outcomes), the city will often tranfer the title of the property to the URA. Then the URA has a property manager who can work to sell off that property.

A policy of the city is to sell for $500 or more, vacant lots to adjacent property owners. So, if someone lives right next to an empty, city-owned or URA-owned property and there is not overall plan for that property by the URA, then it can be sold to ADJACENT "qualified" buyers.

A qualified buyer is one who has paid all the taxes, water bills, sewege bills and such. That's a great check. We don't need the city to sell its excess property to property cheats.

But here is the new suggestion!

Let's sell off the excess property owned by the URA to qualified buyers who might not be ADJACENT, but who are NEAR BY reidents.

Perhaps the corner lot is URA-owned. Perhaps the next-door neighbor does NOT want to purchase the corner lot. But, say the people who live in the middle of the block do want to purchase the corner lot. Let's have the URA sell off the property to those who live near by.

I'd say the technical definition of "near by" could be extended by month to stretch from five units to an additional five units each season.

So, in the fall of 2005, all lots are for sale as is the present policy. This gives those who do live ADJACENT to the property time to make that sale that they've been putting off and never needed to make.

Then in the first quarter of 2006, anyone who owns property within five address numbers of a URA-owned lot can make a purchase.

Then in the second quarter of 2006, anyone who owns property within ten addresses of the URA-owned lot can make a purchase.

In third quarter of 2006, the near-by description stretches to 15 address numbers.

Then in the fourth quarter, the near-by description stretches to 20 address numbers.

Perhaps in the future the near-by would grow even farther -- to zip codes or to council districts or perhaps by 200 meters.

I'd also make a restriction that each property owner would be entitled to only one $500 sale per quarter.

Furthermore, an owner of a vacant lot would not be able to be considered a nearby resident. This way a person who gets a vacant lot, or who already owns a vacant lot can't go around a neighborhood and buy up more vacant lots. That person would need to reside on a property to qualify to buy at the new ADJACENT lot price rate.

The URA can sell off some of its properties in other ways as well. But, the URA's track record at getting properties back on the tax rolls is less than a success. The URA is good at getting properties and holding onto them. That is the trend needs to be reversed so the properties are more fluid and begin to generate more income for the city from annual property taxes.

1 comment:

Honnistaibe said...

For a real good look at why government is complicated, Mark, look at your development of this idea. You amended it three or four times in your proposal of it. The legislative body that would enact it would change it dozens of time before making it a law and it would probably eventually take up a whole chapter in the code book!
That said, it's a good idea.