A Great City... With Great Problems
Outrageous housing costs! Sky-high taxes! Deteriorating public services! Poverty... homelessness... urban decay... But why?
After all, this is the city that puts the LOCATION in "Location, location, location". New York has the priciest real estate, the most awesome urban vistas, the most conspicuous consumption. Think: New York's subway system was carrying a half-million riders per day BEFORE the automobile even appeared on the scene!
But here are another couple of facts about New York City: in Manhattan, an area of land half the size of Central Park lies completely vacant. Citywide there are 22.2 square miles of vacant land. And, of course, vacant land is just the tip of the iceberg. An amazing amount of land in New York City is used -- but just barely: held as a slum, a surface parking lot, or a half-derelect eyesore.
Commercial bus riders arriving in New York from points north usually pass through Harlem, cross Central Park at its northern edge, and proceed down Manhattan's West Side. It's an instructive field trip. Harlem's high-rise "projects" were established to open up uptown real estate for high-profit development -- yet only now, many decades later, is "gentrification" coming to the area -- and it's coming in fits and starts, with fancy new condos going up next-door to long-idle bombed-out lots.
The entire history of New York City has been a long ebb and flow of blight and gentrification. There was a time, after all, when Harlem was a posh bedroom community on the edge of bustling Manhattan -- and the Upper East Side was a slum. "Eastside, westside, all around the town," neighborhoods fall into such depths of blight that the city can't even give the land away. Then, when prices hit bottom, developers come charging in to build -- at prices that drive out the poor people who live there.
Is this any way to run a city?
A recent study by the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer tallies 1,723 vacant buildings and 505 vacant lots in Manhattan alone. The space we all need, for housing and commercial space, is being hoarded by speculators. It's the "gilded age" all over again: luxury condos spring up everywhere, while affordable apartments are impossible to find, and small businesses face horrendous obstacles.
Much of the blame lies with our tax system. It's a nice mess! It actively rewards land speculation and penalizes production! Who pays the cost of New York's streets, subways and buses, its schools, public housing and law enforcement? We do: we working, taxpaying, transit-riding New Yorkers.
Did you know that only 10% of the revenue needed to run the city comes from land values? We propose to shift taxes off of buildings, wages, sales and productive enterprise and on the revenue source that cannot flee, and whose value reflects the entire community's productive contributions: the land. Land value taxation, or LVT, could make great things happen in New York City's economy. Would you like to see our city
- Lower taxes on homeowners and small businesses?
- Create more affordable housing?
- Expand public transportation and reduce fares?
- Fix our crumbling public infrastructure?
Here is an example of how it could work.Friends, we're here to spread the word of a truly workable alternative that can bring our city tremendous benefits. But to do that, we must first show you how the current system hides the truth.