On October 18, 2012, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed HB1682 and SB1414, which allow for the creation of land banks within the Commonwealth. Land banks create a structure to make productive use out of vacant and tax-delinquent property. If signed by the Governor, this bill will help provide enormous economic and environmental benefits for communities by helping new owners identify and purchase vacant land much more quickly and efficiently. The Law Center has supported the creation of a land bank for Philadelphia that creates a structure to put land in the hands of communities – including the gardeners and farmers with whom the Law Center works in its Garden Justice Legal Initiative.
With over 40,000 vacant lots in the City, vacant land contributes to a vicious cycle of blight, abandonment and poverty in many of Philadelphia’s most marginalized communities. Philadelphia owns much of the land currently vacant in the city, and has thus been in need of an effective policy for putting those properties to good use. Today, city-owned property is split between a variety of city agencies, all of which use different processes for managing, selling and developing their property.
A land bank will streamline the process, centralizing the city’s properties and creating a consistent process for putting the land to use. Though details of a land bank will be worked out separately, this bill is an essential first step towards the development of a land policy that deals rationally and fairly with vacant land.
For more information on the land bank bill, click here.