Despite visionaries like Glenn Beck and the majority of the terrified editorial pages of New York City warning us about it, the voters of New York elected
Park Slope liberal squish socialist warlord “Red” Bill de Blasio. What kind of changes will de Blasio be wreaking on New York, now that the calm, teeny tiny hands of Mike Bloomberg aren’t guiding the levers of power? Well, here’s one thing: a plan to charge higher property taxes on vacant lots in order to spur the owners to build something or sell it to someone who will. First they came for the empty lots and I said nothing because I was not an empty lot.
Crain’s reported on the plan today, noting that it was an issue that de Blasio tried to get the city to address while he was public advocate. de Blasio’s plan would raise the cost of owning a vacant lot and doing nothing with it by an average of over $15,000 per year. The administration would accomplish this by re-classifying vacant property from residential property to commercial property, which carries a higher property tax rate and a higher property tax cap.
Arrayed in favor of it are housing advocates of all stripes and a few real estate interests. While the change sounds good in theory, there are of course people opposed to the plan, who are worried about lot owners building structures that just barely put the land in use and therefore get around the tax while still not using the lot to its potential. An unintended consequence of the tax change could also be an impact on community gardens, like Roger That for example, since even though the gardens are very pretty, they still exist on empty lots. Already the owners of one vacant lot-turned-garden in Williamsburg are arguing that the plan will unfairly punish them.
Still, the people who do something useful with their vacant lots, as opposed to sit and wait for real estate prices to skyrocket, are rare, so we welcome this heavy-handed socialist land grab. Of course, that is until we look around one day and realize there are no vacant lots for us to point out to our children and say, “Your mother and I, we made love on that pile of rocks and garbage.”