Autumn Evening at Washington Plaza, Lake Anne,

Autumn Evening at Washington Plaza, Lake Anne,
Photo by Rodney Solano, Reston, hat tip Reston Patch

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reviving the Idea That Urban Land is Common Wealth, Commons Magazine, March 9, 2013

Authors Rich Nymoen and Jeff Smith suggest that urban land—which is valuable thanks to many public investments such as streets and sewers— is a commons, for which the public, not the property owner, should be paid rent. Obviously, the proceeds from any buildings or other improvements to the property rightfully belong to the owner. 

Here is a key paragraph in their article:
Currently, the only way one can profit from land is to develop it or sell it. However, if the profit from land were viewed as our common wealth, then we’d benefit to the degree that the land in our region was best used – which includes non-use. To illustrate, consider Central Park in Manhattan. Every time developers go to the city council with proposals to develop within the park, New York rejects the proposals. Not because the Green Party has taken over the Big Apple but because of the bottom line. The city gets more revenue from the surrounding properties with the park kept open than it would if the park were developed from border to border. Open space is profitable to the community, even if not to any individual owner of the open space. Hence, to remove the motive to develop every parcel of land – and to be fair to all owners – it’s necessary to combine the value of all land in a region into a common fund, then share the revenue as an equitable dividend to residents.
For the rest of this article that challenges the way we think about open space, please click here.

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