Cities Helping Long-Term Residents Resist Gentrification

A group of people protesting San Francisco evictions marches down 18th Street. "Out of the bakery and into the streets," they yell when they reach Tartine. Photo by Molly Oleson

Interesting piece today in the NYT about a movement across the country to reduce or freeze property taxes so that residents who remained in blighted areas through the tough times can remain when gentrification starts to push them out.

Newcomers, whose vitality is critical to cities, are hardly being turned away. But officials say a balance is needed, given the attention and government funding being spent to draw young professionals — from tax breaks for luxury condominium buildings to new bike lanes, dog parks and athletic fields.

“We feel the people who toughed it out should be rewarded,” said Darrell L. Clarke, president of the Philadelphia City Council, which last year approved legislation to limit property tax increases for longtime residents. “And we feel it is incumbent upon us to protect them. READ MORE.

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission

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  1. John

    Lydia, this idea is very welcome, of course, as there is a near universal feeling nationally that property taxes are onerous on the older and poorer property owners.

    But it’s largely moot in California because of what was probably the most successful populist movement in any State and that was Prop13 in 1978. This caps property tax rises to 2% a year for existing homeowners.

    Unusually for a movement started in California, relatively few other States followed with their own versions of Prop13. This has led to a situation where property taxes in States like Maine, New Jersey and even low-tax Texas often taking 3% of your home’s current value each year, regardless of what you paid for the home and how long ago.

    And that is why we are now seeing moves across the nation like this – to cap the punitive and confiscatory excesses of property tax. Sadly, it turned out that municipalities cannot be trusted, even though in theory we elect and appoint them.

    • John

      I should have added that what is so pernicious about property tax in the eyes of many people is that, unlike almost every other tax, property tax is totally unrelated to someone’s ability to pay.

      Just because you own a million dollar home (not much in SF) doesn’t mean that you can find the thousand a month in property taxes that that implies.

  2. skiver

    Tartine Bakery is the product of gentrification. For decades, Carl’s Bakery stood on that spot. What happened?

    But then demographics and shopping patterns changed in the Mission District and South of Market.

    Older families moved out, and young, mobile professionals moved in. Patronage from elderly customers and walk-in traffic – the lifeblood of Carl’s Pastry and other small businesses – dried up and vanished.

    Competition from Safeway, Costco and other chains also badly hurt mom-and-pop shops across San Francisco.

    Walter said his bakery had suffered because today’s shoppers preferred the convenience of picking up their baked goods at supermarkets and discount stores.

    “Small businesses are always the first to go,” Walter said. “The chains are cutting the little guys’ throats.”

    The final blow came three months ago, when Walter’s landlord, Howard Louie, said he would have to raise the rent for Carl’s Pastry to $3,100 from $2,700. Walter fell behind on rent, and he told the building owner he would close last week.

    • John

      A rent increase of $400 a month isn’t a lot in the contest of what I’m seeing in the Mission.

      If that small a sum tilts a business into not being viable, then I suspect it was doomed regardless.

      Many people would rather do one or two large shops than endless errands to a dozen different specialist small stores.

    • landline

      Just a reminder that the linked article in skiver’s comment is from 1998.

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