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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shiloh's Vacant Properties No Longer Vacant According to DCRA and Tax Databases

With Vacant properties on my brain due to the Class 3 tax discussion, I happened to peruse the DCRA's Winter 2009 Vacant Property List, accessible here. Oddly, I noted that only one of Shiloh Baptist Church's vacant properties, 1600 8th Street, appears on the list. Stated differently, the following Shiloh properties do not appear on the list: 1543 8th Street, 1526 9th Street, 1528 9th Street, 1532 9th Street, 1533 9th Street, and 1534 9th Street.

Disturbed, I looked up all of the properties in the online Real Property Assessment Database and found that six of the seven vacant properties on 8th and 9th Streets, NW, owned by Shiloh are no longer listed as vacant Class 3. Here is a table I made showing what I found in the online tax database:Something smells rotten -- how did these properties get re-classified when they are all clearly vacant still? Is Shiloh not going to have to pay Class 3 vacant property taxes on these highly visible properties that are blighting our neighborhood?

23 comments:

Shaw Rez said...

In contrast, see this July 2008 list from DCRA:
http://www.dcra.dc.gov/dcra/frames.asp?doc=/dcra/lib/dcra/vacant_list_07_24_08.pdf, on which all seven properties appear as Vacant Class 3.

Anonymous said...

to those that care about these issues given the real and substantial impact this has in the neighborhood, i think we should start thinking about collective and concerted action. Calling Evans' office, maybe a writ of mandamus? I'd appreciate hearing if others have a level of interest and/or ideas...

Anonymous said...

I plan on submitting these properties back to DCRA as vacant properties and sending an email to Jack Evans and Mayor Fenty. I have found with everything in this city that nothing gets done until enough people complain. I urge everyone to complain and complain loudly because these properties are an eye sore in our community.

Shaw Rez said...

Agreed, anon. I've already written Councilman Evans. I agree there is strength in numbers. His email address is:

jackevans@dccouncil.us

I will also submit vacant property reports to DCRA. Hopefully this will be corrected retroactively (it shouldn't have changed betwen July 2008 and now anyway!) and Shiloh will have to pay taxes as if the mistake never happened. It's only fair (to the neighborhood and to all other vacant property owners).

ML said...

So Shiloh is stealing money from the city coffers by not paying the legal, fair and appropriate tax for their vast amount of run-down, vacant property in Shaw.

Why does Shiloh think its okay to steal money from the city?

Why does Shiloh think its okay to saddle their neighbors with empty, dilapidated buildings that attract drugs, trash and crime?

This seems contrary to general Christian teachings. Also to their vision statement, "Shiloh Baptist Church (Washington) is committed to building a Village that Represents God’s Kingdom" and to the 3rd tier of their theme, "Care for Our Community (outreach)."

Shaw Rez said...

Hopefully a) Nothing nefarious occurred and this was simply an innocent, easily-explained mistake; b) This can be easily corrected; and c) The church will pay, without protest, full Class 3 taxes for all seven of its vacant properties in Shaw.

holocene said...

So it's the six properties on this table?

I'm make sure to report them vacant as well.

Just in case it's useful, you could get the DCRA's vacancy reporting instructions and form here:

http://tinyurl.com/ccabcy

liz said...

Thank you so much for this post! Not only was it informative, but it helped me locate records on an abandon property that I have been trying to locate the exact address of for a month.

IMGoph said...

i don't feel that mr. evans would necessarily be receptive to this. since he just got finished announcing that he would like to remove the class 3 tax rate entirely, he'd probably just say, "good, this is where we want to be going anyway."

i think the at-large councilmembers should all be brought into the fold on this one. if the people of shaw don't raise a loud enough stink about this one, mark my words, those buildings will be torn down with something approximating no notice before the year is out.

Jen said...

Did you consider that they don't have to pay taxes because they're owned church? I'm real estate agent and churches have exemptions. I just went through this on property in Petworth that was owned by a church.

Jen said...

Did you ever consider they're not being taxed because they're owned by the church? Churchs are exempt from paying property taxes in a lot of cases. I'm a real estate agent and I just dealt with this issue on a property being sold by a church. Look at the tax classification.

Anonymous said...

It is possible that properties have requested a deferral of the higher rate. Exemptions are available for many categories, such as if the property is currently listed for sale, if it is undergoing renovation, if it is in probate and other categories. But I would think if an exemption has been requested it would be listed under the real property database.

https://www.taxpayerservicecenter.com/RP_Search.jsp?search_type=Assessment

On this site you can also check out how much is being paid on the property.

Shaw Rez said...

Jen--generally even churches pay taxes on vacant properties unless they qualify for an exemption. To date and prior to this re-classification, shiloh has paid about 500k (I wrote about it last year).

Anon-- there is a difference in an exemption and a reclassification. None of the typical exemptions seem at play here--I found no active building permits, no active sale or lease listings, etc. Plus an exemption does not re-classify the properties as not-vacant but simply excuses the tax liability for a certain period.

Anonymous said...

It seems clear that the church would like to assemble a block of properties to redevelop together. The holdout would appear to be 1530 9th street. They are probably asking for a prohibitive sum of money since they are currently the missing property.

Shaw Rez said...

Anon - I don't think it is so clear. In addition to the grouping properties you reference on the west side of 9th Street, the church owns three vacant properties nearby that they've also kept vacant for decades (1543 8th, 1600 8th, and 1533 9th) . These three properties are major blights on the neighborhood and great sources of disturbance/frustration to neighbors. Redevelopment of these three properties is not dependent on acquiring 1530 9th Street, which seems to undermine your theory that the church would otherwise have undertaken development.

Anonymous said...

Mark's Electrical Contractors at 1530 Ninth Street is a family-owned business that has been in that location for almost forty years. Shiloh has never made them a reasonable (read: market rate) offer for their property, which is paid off and in the clear. Their property taxes are low thanks to the annual tax cap Jack and others in the city council placed on long-time owners beset with sky-rocketing property values. Shiloh bought out all of the other properties over the last 25 years, but Mark's, whose owners are quite old, stays where it is. Shiloh, I presume, figures it can outlive them. Folks, please be sure to attend the next CCCA meeting. Dave Smith will be talking about these and some 140 other vacant properties he identified in the association's limits, over half of which do not have vacant assessments. Ray M.

Anonymous said...

To respond to Jen, religious organizations do not pay taxes on lands directly used for their cult activities, which includes worship facilities, yards and parking lots. Were Shiloh to tear down its vacant houses and make a parking lot out of the sites, the land would be tax exempt. That is why the church is so lax about vagrants squatting in the premises -- raising the chances of demolishing the buildings by "crack lightening." Remember, parking is all that Shiloh needs or wants from our community. RayM

Aparnature said...

Ugh, just let us know what we can do? Can we organize an email petition to Evans office? A facebook group? I recently joined a facebook group supporting a ban on plastic bags that are clogging the Anacostia, and I got a reply (maybe an autoreply, though) from someone in Evans' office.

Clayken said...

I worte Evans and got cc'd on a reply 10 minutes later, him telling some staffer to reclassify the property

Charles Walker said...

If you want to do something, come out to the next CCCA meeting. Tuesday, March 31, at Chatman's D'Vine Bakery and Cafe, 1239 9th Street NW, 7:00PM. See the agenda for this meeting here. We will have results of our vacant property survey. Councilmembers Jack Evans and Kwame Brown will be there as will a representative from DCRA.

Charles Walker
Vice President, CCCA

Aaron said...

Think about this from a common sense perspective. The class 3 rate applies to all vacant property in the district [be it residential, commercial, or unimproved land] that have been vacant for more than 30 days. The collateral damage this has already done to long term property owners saddens me. Property owners are walking away from their properties because they can not afford the increase in the property tax rate. Case in point:

Property owner A has unimproved land that has been in their family since 1903. The land is assessed at approx. 250K. Up until about two years ago, the annual tax bill totaled approx. 2K. In FY2008, the tax bill went to 12.K; and in FY2009, the bill went to 25K. The property is on a paper street in the city [meaning there is no improved city road in front of the land]. After years of being past down through generations, the tax is more than the owner can afford, and this year the property will be at tax sale. This is a mild case of the damage this law has caused.

How many of our readers can afford a tax increase of over 1,000% on their current tax bill?

I challenge each reader to come up with solutions to this law that deals with nuisance, derelict, and blighted properties only. Now is the time to email your thoughts to all council members. The new bill introduced by Mr. Mendelson should come up for a vote sometime in April or May 2009. Just Google DC Council and their web site will come up. Think solutions that will not penalized property owners who maintain their properties at or above the city building inspector’s standards. All vacant properties aren’t nuisance properties.

Anonymous said...

3/30 the Real Property site shows the properties classified as vacant, but some (I didn't check all) are showing a strange "Credit" to the tax assessment although no payments have been made for 2009 -- is it another sly way to reduce their taxes discreetly??

sylvia said...

Have you heard that CM Mendelson is getting in the game and offering legislation (Bill B18-0194) to reduce the Class 3 property tax rate from $10 to $5?

SBrown (Ward 7, Deanwood)