I thought this was a pretty intriguing way to conserve rural land. Clallam County, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, is considering a real estate sales tax of 0.5 percent per sale to finance farmland preservation, which is something of a vanishing resource in the booming county. The tax would go to purchase development easements on farmland, which gives farmers an injection of cash and also guarantees that the land will stay rural.
Apparently, similar measures have failed in both King and Snohomish Counties, though San Juan County does have such a tax on the books. In spite of the tax’s apparent unpopularity with Puget Sound voters, I wonder if there’s a creative way to tweak the tax—or the way it’s assessed—so that conservation can benefit from the real estate boom, which is arguably the biggest threat to forest and farmland preservation. I’d love to figure out a way to harness the building craze toward preservation. Perhaps a tax solely on new construction? On new construction in certain areas?