Did San Fran used to tax real property by door width?
April 11, 2008 6:41 AM   Subscribe

I remember hearing that San Francisco property taxes used to be based on door width (obviously not anymore), can anyone confirm/deny this and/or provide any articles explaining it? Thanks.
posted by wangarific to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the taxes were probably more likely to be based on house width, like in Alexandria, VA, which has these extremely narrow homes - something like you find in the Sunset.
posted by parmanparman at 8:04 AM on April 11, 2008

Response by poster: I remember someone telling me that houses used to have those beams sticking out the top so you could throw a rope over it and raise furniture up and into the windows because of the door, because the door was thin for tax reasons. That's why I thought SF used to tax RE by door width...
posted by wangarific at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2008

This is an aside, but you might find it interesting based on your question. There is a part of the Netherlands called Baarle-Nassau that has a bunch of tiny Belgian exclaves in it. Some houses sit on both sides of the border, and taxes were based on where the front door was located. So as tax rules changed and it became advantage to be taxed in the other country, people would relocate their doors. More info here.
posted by Emanuel at 11:06 AM on April 11, 2008

The staff is mostly great.

Do tell!
posted by billtron at 1:43 PM on April 11, 2008

Not sure about San Francisco, but New Orleans had some odd ways of taxing homes in the 1800's. Most of the architecture in the older parts of the city were influenced by the tax assessors. Front yards were taxed, so the houses were built to the sidewalk (French Quarter).
Number of rooms, closets were counted as a room, no more closets. Number of floors, camel back homes were created. Width of house, narrow long houses called shot-guns that were one room wide.

Here is a blog that refers to some of the crazy ways to lessen one's tax bill in the latter centuries.
posted by JujuB at 6:23 PM on April 11, 2008

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