Land Use Efficiency in Fairfax City, Virginia Through Per Acre Property Tax Analysis



Wolfenstein, Ben K

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This thesis explores the efficiency of sprawl land use patterns in Fairfax City, VA. Over the last 100 years, local, state, and federal land use policies have created an auto-oriented environment known as sprawl. Literature suggests that sprawl is more expensive to build and maintain than more compact development patterns, so localities must ensure that their development patterns produce enough property tax revenue to cover costs. Calculating property tax per acre allows localities to determine how productive each acre of land is, and which types of land uses are the most productive for each acre of land that they use. In Fairfax City, detached single-family homes and properties that used a considerable amount of land for surface parking lots were significantly less productive per acre with respect to tax revenue than more compact land uses such as attached single-family housing and the City’s Old Town. Fairfax City should reexamine its land use policies and zoning ordinance which currently emphasizes sprawl over traditional development.