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Councilwoman Sanchez Talks Land Bank in Frankford

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez held a town hall meeting on December 9th at Sankofa Freedom Academy to talk about the Land Bank legislation which she sponsored this year.  It is now law in Philadelphia and will go into effect in January and she took this opportunity to explain what it is and how it will benefit the residents of hall

The purpose of the Land Bank is to return vacant and tax delinquent property to productive reuse.  Sounds easy but when you consider the scale of the problem, with as many as 32,000 properties in the city in this category, it becomes a big problem.  Many older cities like Philadelphia are in the same situation.  The Land Bank legislation along with legislation passed by Pennsylvania that was introduced by State Representative John Taylor, will make this possible.  The strategic plan for implementing the Land Bank is due to be approved this week.

What does this mean for Frankford?  Residents will find it easier to take over tax delinquent lots adjacent to their homes as side lots.  We have many of those in Frankford.  People who want to rehab a property will have a single place to go to get title to it.  Developers will find one stop shopping for multiple parcels that make rehabbing and building from scratch more financially feasible.

We’ll have more on this as the Frankford CDC begins taking advantage of the opportunities that the Land Bank offers next year.   One side effect of the success will be gentrification pressure at property values begin to rise.  Have a look at this story on that issue.

Congratulations to Maria for a job well done.  It was a long time coming but looks to be a game changer for the city and hopefully Frankford.



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Bills in City Council

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 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.