One of the most difficult things for me about Albany is the general ugliness of the streetscape in many places. I love my neighborhood, and the houses are basically great houses, but the recent rennovations to public areas just brings into relief the badly maintained buildings. And you know what? It's not just slumlords who don't care. As a homeowner, one hears often that one should not maintain the front of the house well, or make visible improvements, because it will raise one's taxes.
Unfortunately, I don't think it's an urban legend. I think there is truly a tax disincentive to maintaining and beautifying the street-facing side of a house/building.
I know valuations for property taxes have to be based on something, and it's a hard thing to do well. But I'm sure if all you planner types put your heads together you can come up with a way to either remove the disincentive or add an incentive.
It would make a big difference to the tone of the neighborhood if those of us who care about the houses we own were able to make improvements w/o fear of tax backlash.
And hey, if I'm wrong and there is some way that the city is already avoiding penalizing for improvements in this way, it REALLY needs better publicity!!
Thanks for listening!