The Citizens Land Bank: What It Is and Is Not

What It Is

  • A for-profit, professionally-managed, citizen-owned-and-governed community land planning and development enterprise, designed to enable every citizen of a community of any size to acquire a direct ownership stake in local land, natural resources and basic infrastructure.
  • A social vehicle for every man, woman and child to gain, as a fundamental right of citizenship, a single lifetime, non-transferable ownership interest in all the Bank’s assets, share equally in property incomes from rentals and user fees from leases or use of the Bank’s assets, accumulate appreciated equity values from enhanced land values, and gain an owner’s voice in the governance of future land development.
  • An innovative legal and financing tool empowered to borrow on behalf of all citizen-shareholders and service the debt with pre-tax dollars to meet the land acquisition, capitalization and operational needs of the Bank. The CLB shelters from taxation the equity accumulations of citizen-shareholders and protects the outside assets of the citizens in the event of loan default or if the enterprise fails.
  • A social tool designed to encourage a just, free and non-monopolistic market economy. It applies the democratic principles of equal opportunity and equal access to the means to participate as an owner as well as a worker. It demonstrates that anything that can be owned by government can and should be owned, individually and jointly, by the citizens.
  • A major feature in a proposed national economic agenda known as “Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen,” which is designed to reform existing monetary, credit and tax barriers to provide every American an equal opportunity to share in the governing powers and profits from new entrepreneurial ventures, new technologies, new structures, and new rentable space built upon the land. Capital Homesteading offers a “Just Third Way” of reversing unsustainable federal deficits and debt, and revitalizing and growing the American free enterprise system in a sustainable and environmentally sound way.

What It Is Not

  • It is not socialism or communism (which are systems based on the abolition of private property in the means of production). It does not take away property rights from present owners, nor does it redistribute current accumulations of wealth or income.
  • It is not the Wall Street model of capitalism (where ownership of the means of production and ownership power are concentrated in the top 1% of society and artificial barriers exclude non-owners from equal ownership opportunities).
  • It is not a non-profit Community Investment Corporation, Land Trust, Land Bank, Land Foundation, or any other legal vehicle in which ownership of land, natural resources and basic community infrastructure are owned collectively (i.e., where no one has a property stake) or by any state monopoly.
  • It is not a land monopoly owned or controlled by a small elite of local or outside investors or political leaders.
  • It does not provide shares that can be sold, transferred, pledged to others or used as collateral to meet a citizen’s consumption needs.
  • It is not an amateur or unstructured approach to land development or “management by committee.”
  • It is not a vehicle for owning or financing local enterprises competing in the marketplace.

The Benefits of the CLB

  • It provides a private sector means by which homes, enterprises, rentable space and technologies built upon the CLB-owned land can be broadly owned by workers and other local stakeholders.
  • It generates a new source of taxable incomes from new and expanded private sector jobs and ownership stakes.
  • It empowers each citizen and family with the means to build an adequate and secure income, and with a real voice in the development decisions of the community.
  • It provides every citizen with income to contribute to the costs of running an effective local government and providing essential public services, as well as for his or her own well-being.
  • It offers hope of eventually eliminating the dependency of any citizen on welfare or charity of others or fear of technological displacement.

What Does The CLB Need to Become Operational Nationally?

  • Support of President Obama to persuade Congressional leaders to support citizen land banks as part of his stimulus agenda for accelerated rates of non-inflationary, private-sector economic growth, green jobs and energy independence.
  • A Federal law or executive order that provides comparable tax and capital leveraging features as is presently provided under Federal laws governing employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) for the benefit of private sector workers and the corporations and worker cooperatives in which they work.
  • State and Federal exemptions from property taxation on assets held by a citizens land bank.
  • Federal Reserve monetization of loans made by local commercial banks to enable citizen land banks to acquire development land from current owners and investors.