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Discussion Paper - Initiatives to Enhance the
Miami-Dade Infill Housing Initiative
This paper was produced by a committee of individuals representing developers (nonprofit and for profit) participating in the Infill Housing Initiative and the Miami-Dade Housing Agency. This paper is a draft. The ideas contained herein have not yet been endorsed by either the Miami-Dade Housing Agency or the participating development corporations. They are being presented solely for the purpose of generating discussion.

Create a scattered site, tax increment financing (TIF) district . This strategy would allow the use of "tax increment financing" (TIF) to provide a steady stream of funds for the Infill Housing Initiative (which is currently unfunded).

Traditional use of TIF: Normally, the TIF mechanism is implemented as follows: (1) a local government applies to the State for the establishment of a "CRA" district with fixed boundaries; (2) to kick of the TIF mechanism a property tax "base year" is designated for purposes of pegging assessed property values within the district against which increased values in future years can be measured, (3) the CRA district then harvests any increase in the amount of taxes collected (the increment) over the amount of taxes collected during the "base year" resulting from increases in assessed values, and (4) the CRA (in theory) is supposed to then reinvest the increment back into the district.

Summary of the Proposed Scattered Site TIF District: The TIF district being proposed herein would be significantly different from a typical CRA district utilized in other parts of the County. The proposed scattered site TIF district would include the only those parcels "certified" by MDHA to be included in its Infill Housing Initiative. The increment for each would be tracked for 7 years (at which point the lot in question would be released from the district).

Instead of using a traditional CRA, perhaps a better approach would be to utilize the mechanisms for creating the more flexible "Urban Infill and Redevelopment Areas" authorized under the provisions of the 1999 Florida Growth Policy Act (Sec 163.2511, et seq.).

The idea would be to create a dedicated source of funding for the Infill Housing Initiative. This would be a painless way for the County to provide money for the program. Were it not for the activities of the Infill Housing Initiative the tax revenues in question would not be available at all (to anyone or for any purpose). This is because these properties would all have remained abandoned tax delinquent vacant lots generating no revenue whatsoever. The new funds could be used, amongst other things, to pay for the cost of the quiet title lawsuits that are required for virtually all of the lots in the Initiative (since they all seem to have tax deeds in the chain of title).

Almost all of the infill lots conveyed to developers by the County pursuant to the Infill Housing Initiative will require that a quite title lawsuit be filed. This is because virtually all of the lots were acquired by the County through tax deed. This is a big hassle for the developer that discourages participation and delays construction.

The idea is as follows: the County would deed the lots to some sort of nonprofit intermediary organization who would then perform the quiet title actions and take other actions to make the lots developable (zoning changes, unity of titles, etc.). The intermediary, using funding provided by the County, would retain one or more attorneys who bring the quiet title actions. This approach would be cost effective because (1) a volume discount could be negotiated with the attorney and, (2) the "cleaned" lots would be ready for construction to begin, thus putting the properties back on the tax rolls more quickly.

Under the Initiative County owned lots are deeded to developers. The developers, however, must hold these vacant lots for a number of months before they can begin construction. Often they must file a quiet title lawsuit because a tax deed is in the chain of title and it takes a number of months to get building permits. During this time period fines are imposed on the developer if he or she fails to keep the lots clear of weeds and trash (vacant lots in deteriorated neighborhoods are often a magnet for illegal dumping). This lot maintenance activity is time consuming and costly for the developer. Prior to the conveyance, however, while the lots are still owned by the County, the Solid Waste Department routinely picks up any accumulated trash at not charge.

The idea being proposed is that the Solid Waste Department continue to provide this service for the first six months AFTER title has been transferred to the developer. This would reduce the developer's holding cost during the period of time prior to beginning construction.

Developers participating in the Infill Housing Initiative should not be required to pay water & sewer connection fees.

Obtaining a building permit is a time consuming and costly process for developers doing scattered site infill development of single family homes in distressed. Developer doing larger scale projects in the suburbs are far better able to absorb such costs. The small developers not only have to get the approval of the Building Department but they must also get all of the other departments to sign off on their permit application (Zoning, Planning, DERM, Public Works, WASA, etc.).

Summary of ideas:
  • The County Manager could ask every County department to pledge a quick turn around on the permitting of lots which MDHA has "certified" as being developed under the Initiative.
  • The Building Department could designate one person to be a "permit expediter" for lots certified by MDHA to be a part of the Initiative. The expediter job would be to "smooth the way" for the processing of the permit. The expediter would tracks the project through the process and help move the application through if it stalls. This will reduce a developer's carrying costs and bring down the cost of the housing giving them added incentive to participate in the Initiative