In Philadelphia, City Council is debating the fate of the city's ten-year property tax abatement on new and rehabbed construction. Other cities, most notably New York, have already dealt with this issue: what happens when a tax break program becomes successful?
Philly's City Council is considering a bill that would require LEED platinum certification for developments to receive the full abatement, with fewer years of abatement with lower levels of LEED certification. While Council's focus on energy efficiency is admirable, this is the wrong approach.
Check out my op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer today where I argue for turning the abatement into an incentive for affordable housing development, instead. As I argue in the paper, the problem of a successful tax abatement program is that it ends up benefiting wealthier homebuyers most. Requiring LEED certification will only exacerbate the problem. Using the abatement to encourage affordable development, however, allows the abatement to benefit a wider spectrum of the city's population.
Please read my more complete argument in the op-ed, and as always, I would love to hear your comments.