An Introduction to Land Banks
You may have seen a few newspaper headlines and some tweets about land banks today. I know several people that have been working on bringing land banking to Pittsburgh for several years. Today, City Councilwoman Deb Gross introduced legislation (2014-0025) that would create the legal structure for a land bank in the City of Pittsburgh.
What is a Land Bank?
A land bank is a way for cities to manage unused, usually vacant or abandoned property.
From Wikipedia :
Land Banks are quasi-governmental entities created by counties or municipalities to effectively manage and repurpose an inventory of underused, abandoned, or foreclosed property. They are often chartered to have powers that allow them to accomplish these goals in ways that existing government agencies can not. While the land bank “model” has gained broad support and has been implemented in a number of cities, they are implemented differently so as to best address both municipal needs and the state and local legal context in which they were created.
Land banks were recently signed into to law on the other side of the state. The Philadelpia blog, Philebrity has a post that offers a quick overview of land banks – Let Us Explain The Land Bank To You As Though You Were A Child.
More Details on Abandoned Properties and Land Bank Legislation in Pittsburgh
The City Paper has a great blog post ()- with details of the land bank history and how the Pittsburgh legislation might work.
Here are some statistics on vacant properties in the city of Pittsburgh from the City Paper post.
Census data show there are 9,017 long-term abandoned properties in Pittsburgh, according Bob Gradeck, a project manager at the Pitt Center for Social and Urban Research. That’s about 5.8 percent of all housing units. But if you include long-time tax-delinquent properties, the number jumps.
“Anywhere between 14 and 17 percent of properties fall into this ‘no one is paying the taxes, they’ve abandoned the physical responsibilities,'” Gradeck says. “You look at some neighborhoods where over 50 percent of properties are tax delinquent, and other [neighborhoods] that are under 5 percent.”
Land Banks in Other Cities
Here are some links to websites for land banks in other cities:
- Kansas City, MO – The Land Bank of Kansas City
- Flint, MI – Genesse County Land Bank
- Cleveland, OH – Cuyahoga Land Bank
- Philadelphia, PA – Philly Land Bank @PhillyLandBank
More reading on land banks
- Deal reached on Phila.’s stalled land bank bill (philly.com)
- Philadelphia Forges Plan To Rebuild From Decay (nytimes.com)
- Land banks acquire, repair, resell abandoned property to be used again (post-gazette.com)
- Michigan Land Bank Demolishes Eminem’s Home (mackinac.org)
- Westmoreland commissioners poised to create land bank (triblive.com)
- New Land-Banking Effort in Philadelphia (thecentralpremise.org)
- Lessons from Baltimore: Is Philly’s Land Bank Doomed? (phillymag.com)
- Let Us Explain The Land Bank To You As Though You Were A Child (philebrity.com)
- Tax Geek Tuesday: Using ‘Land Banking’ To Minimize Tax On Property Development (forbes.com)
- State of the City: Birmingham Mayor William Bell to stress land banking benefits, new development initiatives for 2014 (al.com)