On October 28, 2013, an amended version of Philadelphia’s Land Bank bill (Bill No. 130156, introduced March 7, 2013, as amended October 28, 2013) was approved by the Public Property and Public Works Committee of Philadelphia City Council on a 6-1 vote. It now heads to the full Council for a vote.
Philadelphia has over 40,000 vacant or abandoned properties that are viewed as an impediment to development, raise public safety concerns, and are not generating tax revenue. Currently, the property disposition system in Philadelphia can be difficult to navigate successfully, particularly for those trying to assemble multiple parcels for redevelopment. The Land Bank bill is intended to streamline the process for getting blighted properties out of the hands of absentee owners (or the City itself) and into the hands of private developers and Community Development Corporations for coherent redevelopment in line with City and neighborhood planning efforts.
The amended version of the bill that passed through the Public Property Committee begins to address the issue, with the laudable goals of greater transparency, predictability, and efficiency. But it still requires multiple layers of approvals from different agencies, which could undermine the new process. We expect further amendments as the bill makes its way to a final vote, and will provide updates on the bill’s progress.