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The Catholic Church Downsizing Thread



  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,487 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl

    No doubt other, and better, proposals could be put forward. But I do think the idea of using inappropriate zoning as a tool for acquiring land cheaply and then rezoning it is highly objectionable.

    I disagree that this is objectionable, quite the opposite in fact. If someone owns a piece of land not zoned as residential which is rezoned post acquisition by the state there is a strong argument that they do not deserve a windfall based on rezoning. This is particularly true of lands bought on a speculative basis with no intention of use other than gambling on price increase rezoning, an activity that is damaging to both society and the public coffers.

    I'm not sure why you consider this objectionable. Seeking a major windfall based on rezoning to meet the urgent needs of society at a significant cost to society is both greedy and harmful to society. This is a windfall as we're talking about a potential price that is greatly inflated from the current asset value. I for one don't believe that price is warranted nor should it be paid.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,075 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    First para - that is basically the Kenny report from 1973 which of course successive governments have declined to implement.

    Second para - agreed. Although if a site is zoned community or amenity then who is to argue that it is underutilised if it's being used for that purpose (even if other purposes would be a far better use of the site) ? We're back to zoning again.

    Final para - Dublin is a low density and low-rise city with severe infrastructural deficits and high car dependency as a result. Refusing to build housing because of the infrastructural deficits, instead of fixing them, seems a very odd way indeed of going about things. Building more micro-Dublins all over the place with the same deficits and car dependency isn't the way to go either. Cities have efficiency of scale, even badly designed and built cities like Dublin, it's still the economic engine of the entire island. Despite everything and despite the high costs, lots of people still want to live there, lots of businesses of all types want to be there.

    What's draining the life out of smaller towns in this country is the cursed one-off housing and edge-of-town shopping centres. All completely car dependent of course.

    Edit: the first paragraph was of course quoted by you, not written by you. Vanilla strikes again...

    The likes of Alcohol Action Ireland won't be happy until we all have ration cards. Maybe not even then.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,075 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    @Peregrinus Fairness? It's hard for me to see how it's fair (or in the public interest, or indeed moral) that a landowner can basically hold the taxpayer, (future) homeowners and (future) tenants to ransom and make massive unearned windfall gains simply because their land is well-located for housing. Especially as even privately developed housing cannot be built without the public investment of roads, sewers, water supply, electricity grid etc.

    Doesn't matter if the landowner is the RCC, a land speculator, a farmer, the liquidators of a redundant factory, etc. etc.

    It massively incentivises[*] the hoarding of land forcing up the price.

    If the RCC sold its redundant holdings in Dublin for housing but at current use value it would massively aid in resolving the housing crisis and drive down the cost of development land generally. The amount of unused or practically unused land they are sitting on is incredible. They would still receive a massive amount of money, and still make large capital gains free of tax.

    [*] Apparently the Oxford English Dictionary prefers 'incentivizes' but that just doesn't sit right with me somehow...

    Post edited by Hotblack Desiato on

    The likes of Alcohol Action Ireland won't be happy until we all have ration cards. Maybe not even then.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,863 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus

    You can put it the other way around. If land is suitable for housing and the public interest lies in having it developed for housing and the intention is in fact to develop it for housing, there is a strong argument that the owner of the land should not be penalised by having its value artificially depressed with an inappropriate zoning.

    I take your point about lands bought on a speculative basis, but using zoning lands to acquire land cheaply does not capture value from speculators; it captures value from the owners of land that the local authority wished to acquire. There's only a coincidental overlap between those two groups. Plus, the speculators still luck out if their land is developed for private housing, which is the large bulk of housebuilding, so you haven't really removed the incentives for speculation.

    If your concern is speculation, then maybe a swinging tax on the profits of speculation in land (the proceeds of which could be used to fund public housing) might be a more equitable and effective way of addressing it. Or maybe even a tax on gains resulting from the rezoning of land, regardless of whether the landowner acquired the land for speculative reasons or not.

    (Problem with a tax on gains resulting from a favourable zoning; should you be able to claim a deduction if your land is devalued by a restrictive zoning? Think e.g. of urban land which is devalued because an intended road scheme is going to require demolition of one side of the street. If the state can capture the value resulting from its decision than enhance land prices, should it bear the loss from its decisions that depress land prices?)

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,075 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    In that case the local authority has to CPO at current use / zoning value does it not?

    If you mean land adjacent to the CPO-ed property, it might make the value go up, it might make it go down, tough luck really - same as if an apartment block behind your house gets planning despite your objections but is offputting to potential housebuyers. Should people get compensation if a halting site is developed in their area...?

    The likes of Alcohol Action Ireland won't be happy until we all have ration cards. Maybe not even then.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,863 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus

    Sure. Currently if planning/zoning etc decisions devalue land, the landowner just has to suck up the loss. But if we levied tax on gains resulting from planning/zoning decisions then it would be hard to deny the case for also permitting deductions for losses resulting from planning/zoning decisions. If you do the one but not the other is seems obviously unjust. Plus, it still leaves in place incentives for the speculation and corruption that smacl is (rightly) concerned about.

    We're getting quite radical now, but I think you can make a good case for a land tenure system which treats land as, first and foremost, a shared or common asset ("The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland!") over which a person (or a church) can be given particular rights or control when, and to the extent, that it's beneficial to the community to do so. But if you're taking that attitude, the corollary is that planning/zoning decisions which devalue land are detracting from the wealth of the community - i.e. the loss should be socialised, just as any gain would be socialised.

    This shouldn't be the massively expensive policy that we might at first think because you have to expect that, on the whole, planning/zoning decisions should create more value than they destroy — why else make them? So (say) earmarking your property for demolition to make way for a metro station devalues your land, but it enhances the value of much adjacent land that will be served by the metro station. If both the gains and the losses are socialised, (a) the community gains more than it loses, and (b) as between the landowners, the treatment is fair and incentives for speculation/corruption are minimised.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,075 ✭✭✭✭ Hotblack Desiato

    Privatise the gains, socialise the losses, that's how it works in banking... 🤔

    The likes of Alcohol Action Ireland won't be happy until we all have ration cards. Maybe not even then.