California’s latest crazy idea: Vacancy taxes

This column has frequently recounted how ideas coming from California’s progressive politicians are not just destructive, but also how most result in outcomes diametrically opposite of what the left actually thinks they will have. Examples of this phenomenon are legion.

Take high speed rail (please). It was sold as a “climate change” project because, in theory,  it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting cars off the road. But it turns out that the construction of the project — a massive endeavor requiring thousands of trucks, destruction of farmland and millions of tons of concrete — has been spewing massive amounts of CO2 into the air.

Even the independent Legislative Analyst has concluded that the project will be a net GHG producer for the foreseeable future. If, as predicted, the project is never completed, think of the environmental harm that will have been inflicted — all in the name of saving the planet.

Another example of counterproductive policies is the “recording tax” enacted a couple of years ago. In 2017, the Legislature passed a new $75 tax on real estate documents filed with each county’s clerk recorder. The revenue generated by the tax — over $250 million annually — is supposed to be dedicated to low-income housing programs. But the biggest irony of the tax is that it ignores basic economics. A tax imposed on real estate transactions to pay for programs to make housing more affordable is like prescribing leeches as a treatment for anemia.

The latest example of a progressive policy that will do more harm than good involves the levying of “vacancy taxes.”

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