Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

A Land Value Tax?

All the city news you can use.

By - Oct 29th, 2017 09:43 am
Pittsburgh, PA. Photo by Joey Gannon.

Pittsburgh, PA. Photo by Joey Gannon.

Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

A boomtown that shouldn’t be there: Cape Coral, Florida is a city build on a swamp in what is now one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States. Since 1960 the town has gone from 200 to 180,000 residents–all living along 400 miles of precarious canals created to drain the swamp and support the growth of cheap housing. As the town “yo-yos” between droughts and floods and hurricanes, it still exists, even if under today’s environmental rules it wouldn’t even be allowed. (Politico Magazine)

Taxing the value of land: As land values rise but buildings stay the same in major cities, windfalls generated from increased economic activity increase for land owners, pushing up rents and leading potential new residents further away due to scarcity. The key to growth in the face of these changes in the US, according to Noah Smith, is a land value tax. Smith argues such a tax would be more fair because it wouldn’t shrink the economy like taxes on capital and wages, and would encourage more construction. (Bloomberg)

The death of local TV news: A rule requiring broadcasters to keep a newsroom in the communities they serve was reversed recently by the FCC, just two years shy of its 80th anniversary. Another recent ruling by the FCC allowed the two largest owners of TV stations in the United States to merge, creating a situation where 70 percent of local TV news would be owned by one company. Taken together, these two actions could be seen as a move that will consolidate TV broadcasting away from smaller cities, and could spark a further decline in civic engagement. (Route Fifty)

Capping driving: Singapore, a city state in Southeast Asia, plans to cap the number of private vehicles that can be on the roads. Previous expansion was limited to .25 percent per year however in February 2018 that number will be zero though trucks used for goods movement and buses will be allowed to grow. With 12 percent of its land already devoted to roads, the city is trying to conserve precious land. It will revisit the cap in 2025. (Tech Crunch)

The complex interplay of NIMBYism: Do land-use restrictions slow economic activity? A new study says yes. But, do land-use restrictions slow the spread of geographic inequality? Maybe, also yes. A new study suggests that while NIMBYism reduces economic growth, it may also slow relocation based on socio-economic status. (CityLab)

Quote of the Week

The project is emblematic of the ideal that increasingly lies at the core of tech. It reflects a desire on the part of the biggest companies to not simply sell products, tools, or even platforms, but rather to become actual infrastructure.

Navneet Alang discussing tech companies wanting to get into the role of city building. (The Week)

Categories: Urban Must Reads

2 thoughts on “Urban Reads: A Land Value Tax?”

  1. Justin says:

    Yep, what people don’t understand is that a Land Value Tax done right will actually promote a more sustainable, stable growth from the dense urban core on out, whereas our current regressive tax policies drive population into major cities in a very unhealthy/unsustainable way, putting unwarranted pressure on their development and starving rural / more marginal development activity.

    You don’t have to aim for Manhattan-style skyscrapers, but NIMBYism tends to do far more harm than good. It is basically just a form of reactionary protectionism.

  2. Jeff Jordan says:

    Bill Sell and many of us have been suggesting the land tax for years. But the solution to that lies in Madison. Sadly the problem with any idea that originates in Milwaukee is that it originates in Milwaukee.

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