Today Patrick Kerkstra guides us through the different approaches to the city’s vacant land and tax delinquency problems in a piece for PlanPhilly and the Inquirer. [NOTE: The Inquirer published a portion of Patrick’s article, so head over to PlanPhilly for the whole thing.]
Patrick explores the legislation proposed by Council Members Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Bill Green, against the Nutter administration’s own effort to create an online “front door” to sort and sell off city-owned vacant property. He explains: Where the land bank ordinance departs from the Nutter administration’s plan is in its scope and ambition. Instead of creating a front door, the land bank would seize all properties from three of the city’s five landholding agencies, and unify them in a single new entity with a Board of Directors. Board members would be appointed by the mayor, confirmed by City Council, and would include at least three representatives from non-profit community development corporations or civic associations in low-income neighborhoods (where the vast majority of city-owned vacant land is concentrated).
In addition, the land bank would have the power to acquire new property, principally by seizing tax delinquent properties before they go to sheriff sale. The city needs state authorization before it can do this, however. State Rep. John Taylor (R., Philadelphia) pushed a land bank bill through the House in February, but it has not yet been acted on by the state Senate. All told the piece is a must-read for anyone interested in how on earth Philly has 100,000 tax-delinquent parcels, more than 13,000 city-owned vacant properties, and what the city government plans to do about those intertwined problems.
Read on: Should city bank on land bills that finally lay down the law? [PlanPhilly, March 27, 2012]