Reform designed to fight blight, spur growth and strengthen Philadelphia’s neighborhoods
PHILADELPHIA, PA – City Council members Maria Quiñones Sánchez and Bill Green today introduced legislation as a first step towards forming a City of Philadelphia land bank as a single entity to acquire, hold, and dispose of all surplus publicly-owned land. This legislation will not take effect until the enactment of anticipated state legislation authorizing the creation of municipal land banks. Council members Sánchez and Green have committed to facilitate a collaborative process of hearings and stakeholder discussions to seek input as to the ultimate governance, structure, and policies of a Philadelphia land bank.
“The lack of a single coordinated agency to handle vacant land has increased blight in Philadelphia, and made it harder for our blighted communities to recover,” Councilwoman Sánchez stated. There are approximately 40,000 parcels of vacant land in Philadelphia, of which 9,000-12,000 properties are controlled by various government agencies such as the Redevelopment Authority, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, and the city’s Public Property department.
Extensive grassroots community planning over the last decade by local Community Development Corporations and advocacy groups, with the support of the private sector, reinforce the need for a land bank to effectively and strategically redevelop vacant and blighted land in Philadelphia. “The message from CDCs, developers, and residents of Philadelphia is clear. They want a transparent process to put vacant land back into productive use,” Councilman Green remarked. “Today, we take an important first step toward an efficient, coordinated, and fair policy combating blight. Having a single entity for acquisition and disposition of publicly-owned land will enhance efficiency and effectiveness, focusing public dollars on community revitalization rather than bureaucracy,” Green added.
“We are very encouraged to see City Council, the Administration, and other stakeholders moving together toward creation of a much needed Philadelphia Land Bank. Consolidation of the public inventory of vacant property in a single entity is critical for more effectively reusing vacant property in Philadelphia,” said Rick Sauer, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.
“With this legislation, we intend to hold a series of community-based hearings and forums that will shape the mission and structure of this land bank,” Sánchez stated. “We know that fixing the vacant land problem is a priority for the Nutter administration and our State delegation, especially Representative John Taylor who has championed land bank legislation in Harrisburg. City Council will do its part to make a fair and efficient policy a reality.”
The land bank bill introduced today would create a Philadelphia Land Bank and provide for its appointment, powers, and duties upon the authorization by Pennsylvania General Assembly.