Vacant and abandoned property in Philadelphia is a plague on all of us, dragging down property values and leading to more flight from the city year after year. I am linking to Philly.com to a story on two bills recently introduced to City Council. The Land Bank bill and Tax Delinquency bill. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez was the primary sponsor of the Land Bank bill and cosponsored the Tax bill. Both of these bills are a long overdue acknowledgement of the obvious, something isn’t right in Philadelphia.
The story by Patrick Kerkstra in the Inky lays out all the pros and cons and there are a ton of them but the big story is that someone has stepped up to try to do something about it.
Last month, a pair of laws were introduced in City Council that would upend the city’s approach to vacant land and tax delinquencies. If adopted, the bills would create a powerful agency, a land bank, and give it the authority to snap up tax-delinquent properties as it chooses.
The measures would also compel the city to foreclose on or seize tax-delinquent property within one year. That change alone would have a massive effect on the city’s real estate market, as there are more than 100,000 tax-delinquent properties in Philadelphia, or roughly 19 percent of all parcels in the city. Philadelphia has the worst property-tax-collection record of any big city in America, as detailed last year in an Inquirer/PlanPhilly investigation.
The objective is eliminate the huge number of tax delinquent properties. Either the taxes are paid or the property is foreclosed on promptly. Letting the property sit for a decade with no movement one way or the other does not work. The Land Bank is a separate issue in which the city will have the option of taking property and collecting it in a land bank for future development. I see all sorts of issues there. The city does not take care of the property it owns now so something has to change before it add thousands of new parcels to its collection.
Hopefully this will be a step in the right direction. Thank you Maria. The full bills are linked above.