New York Mayoral Race: Can Bill de Blasio Capitalize on a fresh approach to generating revenue from blighted and vacant land?
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New York Mayoral Race: Can Bill de Blasio Capitalize on a fresh approach to generating revenue from blighted and vacant land?

Bill De Blasio: in the Ascendant

Tomorrow Tuesday, June 10, 2013, the Democratic voters of New York City will choose their candidate for the fall mayoral election.  The early betting fell on Christine Quinn who is currently New York City Council President.  She had done the traditional sewing up of many unions, social constituencies, Wall Street, Mayor Bloomberg (with whom she engineered a Disposal of voter imposed term limits), and the Real Estate Board.  

Also running is Bill Thompson, a respected former Comptroller of the city, John Liu the current Comptroller, and of course the explosive Anthony Weiner.

As summer progressed, Anthony Weiner's self-inflicted wounds made him a likely also-ran, but what is more interesting was the rise of the City Advocate Bill de Blasio  an outer borough former Councilman.  

As of this writing, his standing in the polls suggest he may exceed the 40% of the vote required to avoid a runoff.

What makes de Blasio more interesting to the city is not his formulae of tried and failed redistributionist policies of the 1960s, but rather bold and daring proposals that could actually mend cross class conflict in the city, and create a fearsome coalition of the poor, the middle class, small business and productive growth oriented corporations.  He wants people to build. He wants growth. What sets him apart is that he wants it for all New Yorkers, as classical economist Matthew Yglesias writes.
One issue vexing New York City for years has been the lack of affordable housing and indeed the lack of affordable commercial space for most New Yorkers.  One cause - and the most flexible – is a tax code that rewards leaving vacant land and blighted lots fallow for years, until the owner wins the privilege of a tax abatement in deals that often take place in the dark of night in Albany or uptown.  De Blasio has learned over the years not only the fantastic problems and drains on city coffers this poses, but he is also learned that there is a public policy tool that presents both an ethical and practical solution to the problem.  That idea is land value taxation.

De Blasio's idea? Taxing land to a degree that would either:
1. Make it hurt enough so that the parasitical landowner sells to somebody who wants to build.
2. Or let them hold onto it while paying for the privilege of keeping publicly created land value in their own pocket.  

Here is the City Advocate's take on what he would change; follow the link for the fuller debate among the candidates:

De Blasio: I have called for a change to the tax treatment for vacant land — from the lower residential rate to the higher rate for commercial property — to discourage long-­term speculation that leaves lots vacant in our neighborhoods, and to encourage the construction of more affordable places to live. http://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/mayoral-candidates-get-candid/




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