The Washington Business Journal reports reports that on Tuesday, the Council eliminated the vacant property tax rate altogether and replaced it with a ten dollar 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. According to the Business Journal, boarded up properties will also count as blighted. Owners of well-maintained vacant properties, including vacant lots, will pay the regular commercial and residential rates.
We have witnessed a lot of positive change as a result of the vacant property tax -- numerous properties have been sold and/or renovated in the past few years. Arguably, many of the vacant properties to which we often point with ire (e.g., Michael Sendar's properties at 9th, Q and Rhode Island Avenue, Shiloh's, etc.) qualify as blight under the new standard, so hopefully we will continue to see change resulting from the tax liabilities of the new law. Time will tell how the new Blight Tax plays out.