I’m a regular reader of WestView and someone who hasn’t really participated in local politics. Your newspaper has made me more aware of meaningful ways to get involved in the community. Thank you for that.
I am forwarding you a note (with slight edits) that I sent our council members a few weeks ago proposing an idea to address the very obvious blight we are seeing in our community due to commercial speculation. I thought it might be of interest, and appreciate your effort to make our community better.
Dear Council Members Chin and Johnson,
If you’ve walked the streets of our council district lately (I live on the border of both districts, at 15 Sheridan Square) you’re sure to have noticed how bare our commercial streets have become during the past years. From Bleecker Street, where every second storefront seems empty, to 6th, 7th, and Greenwich Avenues, which rotate a cast of temporary suitors, landlords have clearly overplayed their hands in forcing tenants out to speculate on long-term lease prices.
This has led to vagrancy, decline in traffic for existing businesses, and a general sense of blight in a dynamic neighborhood.
Has there ever been any proposal before the City Council to tax landlords for the blight and negative traffic effects their speculation and vacant storefronts have on their neighbors? If not, I could see a very effective tax that penalizes the value of speculation versus the rent of the former tenant. For example, if a priced-out tenant was paying $5,000 per month for his/her lease and the landlord wanted to charge $10,000 per month for the same space, the City could tax the speculation value (in this hypothetical case, $5,000) at a certain rate which would increase every month a property is vacant. This would make it less attractive for landlords to keep properties vacant.
Briefly put, I’d love to know if this has been considered. If it hasn’t, are there any barriers to addressing this problem in this fashion?
Thanks very much, James Stranko