I'm going to be in New Zealand. However, I expect to submit my statement to the city clerk for the record before I depart.
When you look on the city's web site, you notice these scant details.
This is a public hearing. So, folks will be given, if you call in advance, up to three minutes to speak. If you don't call, they still often allow you two minutes after all the speakers have gone.
City Council Meeting Schedule Tuesday, May 1, 2007This amounts to a tax give-a-way for ten years. People who speculate on property will benefit and the rest of the city will pay more.
1:30 PM - Public Hearing - Bill No. 2007-1285
Ordinance amending and supplementing the Pittsburgh Code, Title Two, Fiscal; Article & IX, Property Taxes; Chapter 265, Exemptions for Residential Improvements: Section 265.01, Definitions; Section 265.03, Exemption for Improvements; and Section 265.04, Exemption for Residential Construction, so as to create a new ten-year exemption covering residential improvements and construction in areas defined as the Uptown District, the Downtown District and Targeted Growth Zones for exemption applications filed on or after July 1, 2007 and through June 30, 2012.
Public Hearing - Bill No. 2007-1286
Ordinance amending and supplementing the Pittsburgh Zoning Code, Title Two, Fiscal; Article IX, Property Taxes; Chapter 267, Exemptions for Industrial and Commercial Improvements; Section 267.01, Definitions; Section 267.03, Exemption Schedule; Section 267.04, Exemption Conditions; and Section 267.09, Participation by Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Board of Education, so as to create a new tax exemption for the conversion of industrial, commercial or other business property into owner-occupied residential use in deteriorated underutilized transition areas and also to increase the exemption for improvements constituting a qualified conversion to commercial residential use as to properties which are located in deteriorated underutilized transition areas for applications filed on or after July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2012.
This provides a benefit to those who have already been able to benefit by being around extensive public infrastructure investments. Those around the new arena are going to get a tax break. Those around the new tunnels under the rivers are going to get a tax break. Those around the new Point State Park are going to get a tax break. Those around the new Market Square are going to get a tax break. Those around the new Convention Center are going to get a tax break. Those around the new slots parlor are going to get a tax break. Those around the new PNC Park are going to get a tax break. Those around the new African American Cultural Center, the Grayhound Bus Station, the Garden Theater, PNC Plaza, etc., -- you get the idea -- get tax breaks. It is backwards thinking and backwards policy.
A massive amount of big-ticket spending has gone on with government money. They've been digging holes in the ground. These development projects are sinks themselves. Plus, these development projects are such that the areas around them need to be subsidized too -- so they think on Grant Street.
They are tossing good money after bad. They need to "Lay The Shovel Down." They need to stop digging the holes in the ground. Rather, they need to be finished with the hole digging and let everyone have a chance at a more level marketplace.
The great big sucking sound that Ross Perot talked about with Mexico is also known as this downtown area.
The new housing that will be squeezed into downtown spaces where it doesn't really belong needs to be subsidized for rich people to move there. That means that other neighborhoods will see valued residents depart for downtown. Other neigbhorhood see their taxes rise so tax breaks can be given to the rich that move to downtown. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. The rest of the city gets punished for its years of hard work trying to sustain itself and the downtown cronies get rewarded for their political connections and sway.
Furthermore, this policy of putting upscale condos and rich people into homes in commercial spaces means it is going to be harder for commercial operations to come back into areas where they have the most chance of success. Downtown is our business brain center and our finance and law and government and board-room hub. Pittsburgh's rebound into a prosperous, vibrant, center of commerce and innovation is going to be more difficult to achieve in the years to come. Small business is getting elbowed out of places where they should be able to move to and sprout.
We don't want our business upstarts to need to move to Green Tree nor Hayes nor Troy Hill nor Betlzhoover. Green Tree is too finished and too expensive. That's a decent place for US Air expansion but not "Joe's High-Tech Widget Marvels" an early stage company. I want them in flex office space near downtown, on public transportation where the region's best and brightest can mingle. I don't want them to need to recuit the first 20 employees into a space that fits their needs in Hayes, Troy Hill or Betlzhoover -- but employees can't and won't want to work there as buses are impossible.
Summary: I want to have workers work downtown where access to services and capital is a stone's throw away. And, I want to have residents and workers live in Troy Hill, Betzhoover and Hayes.
Summary: I want to see tax breaks given to everyone, especially those who have lived a hard life keeping frail neighborhoods alive despite the shifting tides against them.
Summary: If downtown is such a hip place and is about to boom -- let it do so on its own. Don't subsidize what is already about to bloosom. Let them pull their own weight.