Vacant and blighted properties can threaten public safety and are a public nuisance.

These properties include abandoned buildings; unused lots that attract trash and debris; under-leased shopping strip/plaza commercial properties; neglected industrial properties with environmental contamination; deteriorating single-family homes/apartments with significant housing code violations, and vacant housing for long periods.

These properties can be residential, commercial or industrial, and they create a drain on City resources in a variety of ways:

  • Reduce city tax revenues – lower value generates less through delinquency and can spread lower properties to the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Low occupancy rates can be used for property assessment appeals.
  • Added costs of enforcement, patrol, and maintenance in some cases.

Many municipalities use higher property tax rates on these properties to incentivize and encourage property owners to properly maintain and/or maintain occupancy rates at a set standard.

Two local examples are the City of Mount Rainier in Prince George’s County and Washington, DC.

College Park has discussed this topic in the past – in 2015. That discussion was about defining and identifying vacant/blighted properties and did not include imposing a special property tax rate. Several questions and legal issues would need to be addressed if the City Council desires staff to investigate further implementing a higher tax rate on vacant and/or blighted property.

At next week’s meeting, the Council will discuss the topic and direct staff to investigate further implementing a higher tax rate on vacant and/or blighted properties or take no further action.