Property Rights

Minneapolis Tells Residents With Riot-Wrecked Buildings They Can't Clean Up Until They've Paid Their 2020 Property Taxes in Full

After failing at the one thing people think they need from government, Minneapolis is getting tough on making damaged citizens pay up.


[UPDATE: The city of Minneapolis this afternoon announced that it was going to cease requiring the paying of property taxes to get demo permits, the practice this following story discusses. The original story follows as initially posted.]

The city of Minneapolis suffered around 1,500 heavily damaged buildings, with 150 set fire to and dozens burned to the ground. The city suffered half of a billion dollars in estimated damages from the riots following the police murder of George Floyd.

Defenders of government's necessity argue that the protection of life and property is allegedly one of the goods government uniquely provides and for which we pay taxes, yet Minneapolis demonstrably did a terrible job on this task. But whether the government delivers on what it promises, it will always be diligent in insisting we pay for those promises.

Today the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a long look at one reason why the aftermath of rampant destruction, as yet untended to, continues to haunt the city. As social scientists understand, such riot damage can have dire effects on development and poverty in an area for decades down the line. But one city policy in Minneapolis is ensuring, for now, that even early faltering attempts at clearing the rubble can't move forward in many cases.

You see, you can't rebuild or do anything useful with your land until you've cleared off the rubble left on it by the rioting. And you can't do that without a permit, of course. Minneapolis is a city of order, after all.

And you can't get the permit without paying off your 2020 property tax bill in full. As a result, only around 20 wrecked buildings have been demolished, according to the city.

The city, enforcing a state law at its discretion, is holding this demand for a full tax payment over the head of property owners trying to get themselves and the city back to something approximating normal. Owners of destroyed stores are finding they can't even get an estimate as to what the cleanup will cost from contractors without the permit, though the paper reports costs ranging from $35,000 to as much as $400,000 for a strip mall just to get debris cleared.

The average amount owners of destroyed property owe for the second half of their 2020 tax payments is $25,000, which the city demands be laid on the line before any step toward normalcy can happen. And owners of commercial properties are now without their only source of the income with which to pay that property tax bill, as one former restaurateur lamented to local ABC station KSTP.

St. Paul, Minneapolis' sister city, is choosing not to add injury to insult. It is letting residents go ahead and clean up their destroyed property. Hennepin County, which has the legal responsibility for enforcing the state law, told Minneapolis it would not interfere should Minneapolis choose to do the decent thing and give citizens a chance to start over, and make the city look less like a pile of rubble (though, as the Star-Tribune story relates, city officials feel they've gotten conflicting signals from the county on this point).

Minneapolis City Councilmember Andrew Johnson told the Star-Tribune that he agrees it is "outrageous" to demand full property tax payments just to get a demo permit, but his suggested solutions are more complicated than just going ahead and giving out the permits, including asking "city workers to look for evidence that a property is a public health hazard, which would qualify it for expedited demolition and waive the property tax requirement. The city also has told property owners they don't need to survey their lots as part of the demolition process, which can save them a few thousand dollars…."

St. Paul pharmacy owner Jim Stage used his city's saner policies to clean up and told the Star-Tribune that he:

would have thought twice about rebuilding in St. Paul if the city had asked him to prepay $11,793 in property taxes when he applied for a demolition permit in June. "It would have been a little insulting, considering the circumstances," said Stage, who paid $65,000 to remove the rubble left from the destruction of Lloyd's Pharmacy. "I'd say, 'Do you really want us to build back in your city?' That's how it makes you feel."

The state legislature neglected to officially change that aspect of state law earlier this month, but the actions of sister city St. Paul and Hennepin County show that Minneapolis should not kick the blame upstairs for enforcement actions that further harm its citizens and slow down any attempt to get the city's commercial sector back on its feet.

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  1. This is how you build a Detroit.

    1. Actually, it’s how you wind up having the city pay the demo/disposal costs. A lot of these owners are close to upside down at this point, they can take their insurance settlements, such as they may be, and abandon the property.

      1. A lot of these owners are close to upside down at this point

        “close”. Heh.

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    3. So the City refuses to protect the property of its citizens and when it is destroyed, refuses to allow them to rebuild unless they pay property taxes? Aren’t property taxes paid assuming that the City is going to do its job and protect the property of those who paid their taxes. Is this country gone insane or what?

      1. Hell, the Club that I am an officer for has to pay the fees for it’s liquor license even though we have been shutdown since the second week of March.

    4. Make life simple abandon blue cities. Locked and loaded. Greetings from El Paso.

  2. This is the kind of thing that makes regular folks rebel. You stand by, and in some cases give material support to violent protesters, then you hold the people affected by the protests hostage for tax dollars in cleanup. I’m trying to imagine how pissed off I’d be if I were a resident of the Twin Cities.

    1. I’m not certain there’s an action imaginable these poor souls could take against the people on the city council or in mayor’s office I wouldn’t acquit in a court of law.

      1. Time for a killdozer.

      2. Violent protests are not frowned upon in these times. So there’s always that.

        1. What about peaceful riots?

          1. “I come with bulldozers to build a desert and name it peace.”

            1. I don’t know if anybody else here reads Tom Kratman, but I think that some valuable tips could be taken from the Carrera series.

              1. Oh yeah! Crucifixion is an option. That way it can’t be called lynching 🙂 Big Kratman fan here.

          2. Peaceful riots!?! Ha ha ha ha ha!

    2. Probably not pissed enough to consider voting for something other than the two major parties.

      1. LOL. What TWO parties are evident in this scenario??

        1. DFL and DSA, of course. Duh…

  3. Gordon, as i have stated elsewhere, i don’t understand why so many are still enamoured with modern football, perhaps you are to young to remember paying on the gate, terraces, an atmosphere that in some cases had the hairs on the back of your neck up, tinged with a bit of menace! Players who were paid well but still had roots in the community and clubs that while not perfect by any stretch still felt “owned” by the community HERE►CHECK MY SITE.

    1. Who the fuck is Gordon?

      1. Police Commissioner of Gotham, duh.

        1. He was defunded.

          Now no one calls Batman.

  4. Actually, why can’t the property owner challenge the evaluation?
    Over half the value of the property (and hence the tax) is the now-destroyed building, and if it burnt in June, it wasn’t there for half the year and hence they are entitled to an abatement.

    1. there’s also an argument that they weren’t legally able to collect rent or make a sale during the another third of the year because of gov mandate further diminishing the value.

    2. Not sure if it’s the same in Minnesota, but in Michigan, whatever is there on December 31st determines what your taxes will be for the following year. So the damage would effect taxes for 2021.

    3. Because property taxes aren’t based on value. That’s a fig leaf. Since all the ‘value’ in the area has been destroyed, the value between the plots is ‘equitable’, therefore their share of the property tax pie remains the same.

      Just so I’m not being cryptic, property taxes (usually, correct me if different states do it differently) assess property value so that they can achieve a given ‘number’ in taxes. Ie, the state tells the assessor, “I need a billion in property taxes, go find it”. The assessor then creates a formula based on ‘property value’ to come up with that number. The value is used to create a relative ‘fair’ assessment for YOUR portion of the tax pie. In theory, the rich dude with the mansion and five car garage is then responsible for a bigger portion of the pie than you are, with your postage stamp lawn and unhip location next to the railroad tracks.

      1. FYI, the first part of my message is half snark. But only half.

      2. During the most recent “Great Recession” our property value went down and taxes went up. When we complained to the county treasurer, she said, “How else are we going to get the money?”

        Points given for honesty.

  5. More proof democrats can’t run anything except into the ground.

    1. What about mouths?

  6. Anybody else hear Nero playing his fiddle?

    1. I don’t. I understand his busking permit was denied.

      1. Hats off to you sir.

      2. He was arrested playing violin in an alley off of Wardour Street.

  7. What happens if they don’t pay? Are the cops going to come after them?

    1. They have to fill those cells that they let all the criminals out of because of the Wuhan virus with someone.

    2. I believe the city assumes ownership and the property is auctioned off to pay the taxes. Could take a year or two.

  8. The city must reassess the buildings based on the wrecked status and readjust the amount of tax owed.

  9. burn the rubble collect on the claim and try ice fishing.

  10. There’s only so much shit a person can eat. I’m not sure what my state of mind would be or what I’d be capable of if I was in those people’s shoes. I honestly don’t know if there’s an action imaginable those owners could take against the city council I would consider too far. Many revolutions including america’s were fought over far less tyranny.

  11. You can’t build that. — B. Obama.

    1. Speaking of obama.. . Was nice to see Biden take credit for him and Obama on the UAE/Isreal deal.

      1. Didn’t see that. Hilarious. It’s gonna really get crazy 1984 world between now and Election Day.

        1. In other Biden news, did he just advocate a nationwide mask order?

          Both sides though, right?

          1. Pity the poor soul who has to try to translate what Biden says to sign language.

            1. South Park “Kenny” comes to mind.

  12. “When in the course of human events . . . .”

  13. “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

    1. Never seen this quote before. It is my new favorite.

      1. Go read you some Mencken. He’s fun. Prescient guy.

        1. It’s in the book “Prejudices: First Series”.

    2. September 19 National talk like a Pirate day. Incidentally this phrase leans to the fact that Blackbeard, tired of giving all his plunder to England for Captains wages, went self employment route!!!

  14. I’d pack up and move somewhere with nicer weather. I hear Seattle and Portland have mild winters.

    1. “Why should I move? You’re the one who sucks.”

  15. How many are rentals? If the tenant says fuck off and the owner can’t pay I guess Minneapolis is going to find itself owning a lot of destroyed property. Maybe that’s what they want?

    1. There are still big chunks of west side Chicago burned down in the 68 riots that have never been rebuilt.

      1. (Cough) Detroit (Cough).

        1. (Cough) Newark(cough)

    2. just laying the groundwork for the next state-of-the-art downtown sports stadium.

  16. Good thing they were mostly peaceful, so there shouldn’t even be that many people effected by this.

  17. I can just see the local authorities in L.A., S.F., and Portland (possibly also Seattle) reading this and thinking they need to pick up the gauntlet that Minneapolis has thrown down and figure out how to even more aggressively punish the tax-payers and complicate life for anyone with the audacity to attempt to operate a business for the purpose of generating an income in their own cities.

    1. small business owners are predominantly Republicans, so they have little political power in California, Oregon or Washington. big business owners may also tend Republican, but they are much easier to bully on social media into being woke.

  18. there is no limit to the abuse that whites will take in this country. the govt there should tax their lungs out require their daughters be raped once a week by blacks .tax them at 90% and give the money to Sec Ape housing residents. whites unwilling to fight for their survival deserve this and way more. they get me sick

  19. Wow, progressive Democrats made Minneapolis look like Somalia. I thought that was supposed to be a Libertarian thing.

  20. Ilhan Omar just won the primary here this week, with 58% of the vote.

    So don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for Twin Cityites.

  21. One small point. I don’t understand why Owners need a permit to get a quote from a Contractor.

    1. Agreed. I thought the point of the permit was to estimate the cost of repair so the city could increase the property value to get more taxes.

  22. Sure, that’s the ticket: Go further into debt to rebuild in the same city.

    It’s not like this could ever happen again.

  23. The bottom line here is elections have consequences… Minneapolis residents, including a high percentage of these business owners, I’m sure have voted “Democrat” like a robot every time there’s an election… For those folks, they’re reaping what they have sewn… STUPID should hurt, but I would most definitely understand if you choose to leave this pathetic, democrat-run chithole… Just don’t come to Tennessee and then keep voting Democrat because your stupidity will become my business and I’ll do everything I can to try and make you regret the move.

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  25. You need cops, you need urban renewal by bulldozer, you need arrests of corrupt politicians, you need voters that understand that a vote for Socialism is a vote for death and destruction.

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  27. “the police murder of George Floyd”

    “Defenders of government’s necessity argue that the protection of life and property is allegedly one of the goods government uniquely provides and for which we pay taxes”

    Oh screw off with the ancap take on this. Your fellow anarchists did this. There’s no real difference between ancaps and ancoms in the end, except ancoms leave their basement sometimes.

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  29. If you’re dumb enough to stay in Minneapolis after rioters have destroyed your property, and you go ahead and rebuild without paying tribute to the rioter’s buddies in city hall, who are they going to send to arrest you? The defunded police?


    1. And dumb enough to….keep Omar in office.

  30. So kids, having fun yet? Burned out, no Police and soon insurance companies will leave because you’re toxic. We’ll buy your entire city at auction for pennies on the dollar and run you off.

  31. Keep living with the rats and you’ll commit sewercide.

  32. Guillotines. Lots of them.

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