Implementing a Land Bank; Preventing Corruption


November 20, 2012 by Zee


So Philly legislation on land banking introduces it as a permanent city entity controlled by a 7 member board that must include 3 local non-profit agency representatives and 1 citizen representative.
Levee School Planning Workshop

It promises to streamline the process by unloading city properties to one centralized department, that will offer a more efficient system of service management including;

  • real-time online information about all vacant properties, and the ability to receive notifications about properties of interest
  • Representation from the public on the land band board and in the creation of its policies
  • integration with the new zoning code, including community plans.
  • ***”A meaningful role for Council members on the front end of the disposition process”

It offers new tools for vacant property disposal including

  •  ‘Front door’ website for inquiring about properties, which includes a property map and inventory list with available records
  • development zones to spur sales and
  • a new ‘blight court’ to handle delinquent owners

It is a bipartisan state bill that was modeled after research at Emory University Atlanta, GA. (Atlanta also has a land bank in operation.) It is being considered in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Levee School Planning Workshop

But yet not everyone is convinced…Activist Wary of City’s Land bank legislation.

The main concerns seem to be around putting more power in the hands of political representatives; a legitimate concern, considering Philly’s somewhat checkered political reputation of “Pay to Play”
The legislation writes in its own power:

The Land Bank is authorized to convey[…]property of the Land Bank in the form and by the method determined to be in the best interests of the Land Bank, except where expressly limited…

and the legislation explicitly states if the council person and the land bank get together and don’t like your proposal for any reason they can prevent you from acquiring land, without an appeal:

“Upon discussion, the District Council person and the Land Bank may agree to withdraw or modify a proposed transaction at any stage… Council person shall be given the opportunity to review the transaction. Upon receiving a reason in writing for any disapproval by the District Council person, the Lank Bank may not enter into the transaction.…The Land Bank may re-propose a transaction that has previously been disapproved by the District Council person only if new information has been obtained or there has been a change in circumstances.” Bill No. 120052; Section 16-508(4a,4b,4c)

and Only the council person is assigned explicit access to electronic records held by the land bank in their district.

Bill No. 120052 section 16-506(3) District Council persons shall be granted electronic access to relevant information maintained by the Land Bank regarding those properties owned by the Land Bank and located within their Councilmanic District. The Land Bank shall provide each District Council person with a mechanism to request either periodic aggregate reports or ongoing notifications as to changes in the status of those properties until that point at
which the property is conveyed by the Land Bank.

I AM NOT IMPLYING that all of our council persons are corrupted individuals who would nepotize our city into bankruptcy,

but based on the current wording of the legislation, the potential for abuse is apparent.
Still, we must agree the spirit of progress behind the legislation is well intentioned.

The essential capital of real estate is attractive to investors of varying types universally. The land bank doles out this resource to promote, incentivize and oversee development for the city in a way consistent with its policy goals.

Multi-Brick Design

Lets look at the policies to gain some insight into the direction our city is headed..

Onto: Land bank policies


4 thoughts on “Implementing a Land Bank; Preventing Corruption

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  2. […] that we have outlined some considerations for how the land bank should operate. Lets look directly at the […]

  3. […] Onto: Implementing a land bank […]

  4. […] Fight Philly Blight blog recently wrote about how the land bank bill as currently written puts members of Council between […]

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