Mid-summer, amidst many tax increases, the D.C. Council preliminarily approved a move to decrease the tax rate on vacant—-often troublesome—-properties.According to Councilmember Phil Mendelson, the higher rate was “actually mak[ing] it difficult for some property owners to sell or put their property back to use.”
Maybe so. But the decision wasn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser. At the time, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser was already working on some special language that would specifically target the empty-rowhouses-turned-neighborhood-crack-dens many of us have become familiar with.
But today, the Washington Business Journal reports a twist. The special vacancy tax rate—previously “more than 10 times the residential rate of 85 cents”—-is totally gone!
[Councilmembers] did away with the vacant rate altogether, saying it had produced unintended consequences, and replaced it with a $10 rate that will apply only to blighted properties. A blighted property is “unsafe, insanitary, or which is otherwise determined to threaten the public health, safety, or general welfare of the community” because of broken walls, roofs, windows, balconies or other poorly kept features. Boarded up properties will also count as blighted.”
Tidy, empty properties won’t pay a dime more than tidy, occupied properties.