​Victory in Philly! Land Bank Legislation Approved

The Philadelphia Association of CDCs, the Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land, and the Philadelphia Land Bank Alliance and partners persuaded the Philadelphia City Council to approve a land bank bill.

December 17, 2013

Approved by unanimous vote

The Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to approve a bill to reform the city’s broken vacant property system. The December 12 victory was the result of years of advocacy by the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) and The Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land, and the emergence of the Philly Land Bank Alliance, a diverse partnership of for-profit and non-profit builders, neighborhood civic associations, realtors, architects, environmental groups, and anti-blight organizations.

“Philadelphians who have been plagued by vacant properties in their neighborhoods will soon have a powerful tool in the Philadelphia Land Bank.” stated PACDC Executive Director Rick Sauer. The Land Bank will make it easier and quicker for individuals, community groups, small businesses, community development corporations and market rate developers to turn vacant, blighted properties into vibrant, usable spaces,” he added.

Powerful tool for 10,000 properties

The legislation mandates that a single public entity will hold the nearly 10,000 publicly-owned properties. That Land Bank will have:

  • the power to efficiently acquire tax-delinquent properties;
  • a diverse, qualified board with strong community representation;
  • flexible pricing to incentivize development for community-beneficial uses.

Requirements include:

  • approval of property transfers by the City Council, the Vacant Property Review Committee, and the Land Bank, with public notice and opportunity to comment;
  • an annual strategic plan developed by the Land Bank to ensure land use decisions are equitable.

A diverse and powerful coalition

“This was not an easy political lift,” noted Sauer. “The Land Bank requires a significant system change for city government. We needed a broad coalition to make it happen. The Philly Land Bank Alliance is a diverse and powerful coalition that speaks in a united way. We found a champion in the city council and in the state legislature. And, we had a talented team of consultants that provided expertise, and helped with strategy development and communications to ramp up our ability to push our message and our issues.” PACDC received funding to advocate for the Land Bank from the Oak Foundation, the William Penn Foundation and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.

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