How many vacant lots are there in Philadelphia? The question seems so simple.
The answer, however, is not. Take “40,000,” the number most frequently cited in recent news articles. That count first began to circulate widely after appearing in a study last year by Econsult.
Or “24,000 to 25,000,” the number of vacant properties identified by the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections in preparation for a new push to bring privately owned blighted properties into compliance, as City Paper recently reported.
But do a little digging, and you’ll find that both numbers are really only rough estimates. In fact, you’ll quickly discover a startling fact: No one knows exactly how many vacant properties there are here. And as the Nutter administration tries to come up with a comprehensive policy around vacant land, that elusive number represents a question mark in its equations.