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Vacant Land Languishes in the High-Priced Market of Oakland, California

Oakland property prices have gone way up, but vacant land can be found all over the city. Hayley Raetz argues getting development on this land should be a policy priority.
August 6, 2018, 9am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Even as property values continue to climb in Oakland, many parcels of land sit unoccupied. Possible causes include the particular properties’ physical characteristics that make them difficult to develop, owners avoidance of impact fees, owners waiting for the market to go up yet further, or because the ownership of the land isn't clear. "Ownership itself may be complicated: the parcel may languish in a larger asset pool, or it may be owned by a number of individuals in a trust," Hayley Raetz writes for the Terner Center.

Whatever the reason for its vacancy, this land represents a big possible resource to a city in need of housing. Most of the parcels sitting vacant are zoned residential. "If an average of two units were built on each of the vacant parcels zoned for four units or less, Oakland would add close to 5,800 new residences," Raetz writes.

To encourage development on this land, Raetz argues that the city should create a tax on vacant residential land. She argues that this would push developers to move on properties and shrink the incentive to speculate on land.

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Published on Monday, July 30, 2018 in Terner Center for Housing Innovation
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