A D.C. City Council committee heard mixed reviews yesterday of a proposal to add $1,000 to the annual tax bill of residential properties that have been vacant for more than three years.
The bill, introduced in May 1981 by David A. Clarke, now chairman-elect of the council, would impose the additional property tax to encourage owners to repair their properties and either rent or sell them.
"I would like to say this bill represents the ultimate insult to a city residential property owner," John T. O'Neill, executive director of the Apartment and Office Building Association, said during a four-hour hearing at the District Building. "We urge you to reject this repugnant legislation."
Martha P. Weston, a resident of 15th Street NE who said her home had been ransacked by vandals who entered through a vacant town house next door, told the Finance and Revenue Commitee that vacant houses in the District are more than eye-sores.
"We live daily with threats to our homes, possessions and personal safety that are unimaginable to people who live next door to occupied structures," she said. "It's time for legislation which recognizes that the true victims of vacant houses are the people who must live next to them year after year."
City officials said yesterday they do not know how many of the city's approximately 130,000 residential properties are vacant. Clarke's office said city officials estimated in March 1981 that about 2,400 buildings were vacant.
Clarke later said that the legislation will need some technical modifications, having to do mainly with determining when a property is officially considered vacant. Any such modification will almost certainly push consideration of the bill past the end of the current council session, requiring that it be reintroduced when the new council convenes in January.