Pittsburgh councilwoman introduces bill designed to reduce blight
Pittsburgh would move to take control of blighted properties and market them to new owners under “land bank” legislation proposed on Tuesday by Councilwoman Deb Gross.
Under the program, the city would acquire abandoned properties and sell them to people willing to improve them, Gross said. Pittsburgh has more than 35,000 blighted properties, she said.
“These are properties in the city's repository of unclaimed properties,” Gross said. “We're not doing anything with them.”
State legislation passed in 2012 permits land banks to clear titles of tax liens and bank foreclosures so properties are more attractive to developers.
Gross said the program would not cost the city any money. The land bank would be a separate entity and have the ability to borrow and raise money.
Gross said council and Mayor Bill Peduto would appoint a board to oversee the land bank.
Start-up funding is one of the biggest hurdles for land banks, according to Will Gordon, redevelopment coordinator for Dauphin County, which last year became the first entity in the state to create a land bank.
He said county commissioners gave the Dauphin County land bank a $250,000 grant from state gambling money to get started.
“That got us through legal fees and hopefully the cost of the first properties we're going to acquire,” he said.
The Dauphin program is banking on tax revenue for future funding. It requires the county, school districts and municipalities to wipe out all tax liens and give the land bank 50 percent of total tax revenue on a property for five years.
The county is concentrating on seven of its 40 municipalities as a pilot and hoping the program grows.
Gordon said the program has been a hard sell to taxing bodies, particularly school districts.
“It's very hard to convince a school district to give up any money, even if you tell them they're going to get a profit down the road,” Gordon said.
Aggie Brose, deputy director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., a nonprofit civic group working to improve the neighborhoods, said it takes 18 months to two years to clear a property for resale. She said the time lag hampers redevelopment efforts.
“Private developers are not going to sit around for 18 to 24 months while we assemble land for them so they can do development deals with private money,” she said. “(A land bank program) brings in a quick turnaround time to have free and clear properties.”
Councilman Ricky Burgess introduced similar legislation in 2012, but it expired at the end of 2013. Gross said she believes enough members support the legislation to pass it this year.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- Artis leads Pitt to lopsided victory over Cornell
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Teen charged with firing shots in Wilkins, abducting woman
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams