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Berkeley studying ’empty homes’ tax for November ballot

Empty households encircled by chain-link fences and clad in decaying siding are a popular sight in Berkeley’s neighborhoods — scattered in in between multi-million-dollar properties and lease-controlled dwellings, alike. But individuals uninhabited plots are extra than an eyesore.

In a town plagued by an economical housing shortage, every vacant household is a missing option. Now, next the lead of Oakland and potentially San Francisco, Berkeley is thinking about a way to modify that: tax each individual vacant residence in between $3,000 and $6,000 on a yearly basis until the landlord rents, renovates or sells.

Paola Laverde, a Rent Board commissioner and chair of the Berkeley Tenants Union, “full throatily” supports the plan. She bristles every time she is reminded of a 10-unit condominium making on Delaware Street in North Berkeley that has remained darkish for 16 decades.

“It’s a sin that these 10 units are empty, and this is just a single hire-controlled creating that has been pulled off the industry,” Laverde claimed.

Berkeley will shell out the upcoming handful of months studying how an “empty homes” tax may possibly bolster the city’s housing supply, as an unaffordable market and danger of displacement continue to load inhabitants.

But a divided Berkeley Town Council are not able to concur no matter if the solution would have a common impression, particularly as voters will also be selecting on several other tax actions in the course of the Nov. 8 election.

Town Councilmember Kate Harrison proposed the tax to spur residence house owners to choose action. In accordance to a staff members report, the tax is projected to open up upwards of 1,000 units inside of two many years and crank out among $2.7 and $5.4 million every year — cash that would be distributed to affordable housing initiatives, guidance solutions and property acquisitions by the city.

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