Wednesday, September 29, 2004

An Update! So, affordable housing. This is something I've been thinking about since writing a research paper (“Affordable Housing in Charlottesville”) at U.Va. I've got a few ideas, but the one I'm excited about most is called split-rate taxation. The way property tax is now, there's a flat tax applied to the value of a piece of real estate. This taxes land and improvements equally. So, people who build on their land, pay more tax. People who do nothing with their land pay the same tax. This makes land speculation very attractive, since taxes are easily covered by the increasing value of property in places like Charlottesville. So the property tax system encourages people with wealth to buy up land and sit on it, waiting for the price to go up.


    1. Prices go up in town, staying low in the suburbs.

    2. Long-time homeowners are priced out of their own neighborhoods, as taxes rise on homes that might not have changed in decades.

    3. Development continues to sprawl outward at low densities, increasing traffic, air pollution, water pollution, etc.

    4. City revenues slowly increase along with the cost of housing.

    5. Some wealthy speculators are given a fairly safe investment.

    6. The pace of development in town is slowed, temporarily preserving some nice places.

The way split-rate taxation works, is land and buildings are taxed at different rates. Land is taxed at a higher rate. This turns real estate investment rightside up. In this system, there is great profit in developing, by offsetting high land taxes with low-taxed and high-revenue development. Existing homeowners benefit from lower taxes, especially as housing supply begins to meet demand. City revenues increase along with increased investment in taxable property. Overall urban density increases, improving transit, walkability, and bikeability, reducing travel times, and protecting outlying areas from development. This is also something I recommend for Albemarle's Development Area, but absolutely not in the Rural Area. If anything, the Rural Area should tax homes higher than land, giving farmers a break and slowing down sprawl. Outlying counties should do something along the same lines.
This was done with great success in Pennsylvania.
Also, I have completed a professional website. Behold: Coactive Counseling.

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