National Links: Is Land Value Tax Back?

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to their email list. At the end of the week they take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining or absurd but often useful.

Can Charlotte re-sort itself? A year after passing a momentous zoning reform by a narrow margin, Charlotte, North Carolina is rehashing fights over development, equity and racism. The Unified Development Ordinance would get rid of single-family, detached zoning, but council members opposed to the changes are looking to restrict the densities allowed by the hard-fought reforms. (This article may be behind a paywall.) (Andy Thomason | The Assembly)

Is the land value tax idea back? Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is one of the few leaders in the country considering a land value tax to raise rates on vacant land and lower them on parcels with occupied structures. Interestingly enough, he hadn’t heard of Georgism. The hope is that a more equitable system will emerge where speculation is reduced and redevelopment is rewarded. The only stumbling block now is getting the state of Michigan to let them do it. (This article is behind a paywall.) (Conor Dougherty | The New York Times)

Baby boomers prevailing in housing purchases: The housing market is still hot, buoyed by short supply and older buyers with the ability to avoid high interest rates through cash offers. New data released by the National Association of Realtors found that the median age for a repeat (as opposed to first-time) home buyer this year was 58. In 1981, the median age was 36. The market is still rough for first-time buyers, especially young ones looking for an affordable home. (This article is behind a paywall.) (Rachel Siegel | The Washington Post)

Navigating transit’s financial woes: Transit agencies have been facing strong headwinds after the toughest part of the pandemic, with many on a path to hit fiscal uncertainty in the next few years. Two recent think-tank webinars and several reports hint at some of the ways transit agencies can improve their fortunes, including the diversification of funding sources and pushing for more flex funds from state highway departments, which is allowed under federal transportation laws. (Jared Brey | Governing)

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by transit expert and former general manager for three transit systems Ron Kilcoyne, who talks about the importance of running frequent transit service to attract riders.

Quote of the Week

“I’ve spoken with staffers in a dozen federal agencies this year while rolling out my book about government culture and effectiveness. I heard over and over about rigid, maximalist interpretations of rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that take precedence over mission. Too often acting responsibly in government has come to mean not acting at all.”

— Jennifer Pahlka, discussing in The Washington Post how the gears of government have ground to a halt in the “Kludgeocracy.”

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer