Last weekend I went to the Sprout Fund event called an Idea Roundup. It was worth the $10 entry fee, for sure. Small groups worked in many classrooms and I was happy to be with old GZ (Ground Zero) pals, Jon and Christine, now both in State College for academic work.
One of the strong ideas that surfaced in our group came from them and dealt with vacant land. Plenty of properties are not being used within the city.
Another group also worked on the same concept and used a clever, "Lots of Lots" handle.
Vacant land fix-up is a worthy action. But the plans run into some serious hurdles, such as ownership. And, when you look at the bigger situations, we should be moving those bits of ground to private ownership and taxable property. Philly had this attitude in the past but it has done an about face.
August Incentive Taxation — Center for the Study of Economics We're Pretty Vacant...And We Don't Care
That used to be the sad song of the City of Philadelphia and its assessment arm, the Bureau of Revision of Taxes.
About 40,000 vacant parcels of land sat for years, revalued when there was a sale, otherwise out of sight, out of mind and out of city coffers.
No longer. Now, the city realizes that accurate vacant land values mean more city revenue. They realize that city services create land value, and that value should be recouped.
This summer, 20,000 vacant parcels will be revalued. It’s high time. A glance at current vacant land values would make Paris Hilton blush: The lot at 1401 South 54th Street in the troubled Kingsessing neighborhood is a case in point.
• The lot was purchased in 2004 for $11,000.
• The official “market” value? $2,400
• The official “assessed” value? $640
• Total tax bill? $53!
Meanwhile the house next door pays about 10 times more at $570 a year.
The overdue reassessment of vacant land is welcome. Next step: cut the taxes on the poor homeowner, and raise the holding cost of vacant lots. How? Land Value Taxation.