Homewood: A Storied History
In the middle of all the nonstop happy talk about the revitalizing urbanification of older Rust Belt cities likeBuffalo, Cleveland and our old friend Pittsburgh,
UrbanTools notes that the benefit falls on a very narrow slice of the body politic: the development "community" and other hustlers who ask that government pays for their slick new condos and apartments for transient Millennials. Meanwhile, all of these cities are losing population and unemployment rates are still high.
Doctor Herbert Barry, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, is always looking for a better way. Joining thinkers like Joseph Stiglitz and James Galbraith, here is a recent submission by Doctor Barry into the marketplace of ideas, from the Pittsburgh post-Gazette:
Friday, March 27, 2015
March 19 article described a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to increase
revenues for the Pennsylvania government to support early education (“Wolf:
Billions in Revenue From Proposed Sales Tax”).
Q. What happens when a city taxes buildings more at the beginning of the greatest building boom in American history?
A. Not much.
One of the best examples of the efficacy of land value tax (LVT) was careful study of the city of Pittsburgh culminating in theOates/Schwab study of Pittsburgh published in 1997
which concluded all things being equal land value tax policy had the effect of unleashing construction demand – especially downtown construction –just as the steel industry collapsed, and just as the US entered a significant recessionary period (late 1970s and early 1980s)
Aproposed land bank
in the city of Pittsburgh has been introduced by councilpersonDeb Gross
, and a couldn't come soon enough. Pittsburgh has an oversupply of city-owned blighted buildings and lots that suck up revenue, and produce none for the city. Once the land bank comes into operation, one existential question arises: what is the purpose of a bank?
If we take away the word "land", then we know the purpose of a bank is to dispense of assets in order to create a return for both the bank and – in this case – the community.
Dr. Barry recently published abrief essay
in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" in support of collecting economic rent in an efficient and just way:
by Jon Schmitz in the Post-Gazette on June 20 and 21 described a bus rapid
transit line in Cleveland. The stories suggest that building a similar line
between Downtown and the Hill District and Uptown would generate extra tax
revenues for Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the School District.
Spreading Like Kudzu
Historic reality: in 1950, Cleveland Ohio had a population
. It had a tax base that
was compact and served all sectors of the city well. Great fortunes were made, along with the success
of the working and middle classes. From the 1900s to the 1950s,great civic
became possible with this wealth.
John Rockefeller was only the largest source of foundations and gifts that
made Cleveland not only a gritty industrial hub, but a place where one could
become a more educated, cultured and involved citizen.