“Fears regularly expressed are that the land bank would speed up the process of gentrification in their neighborhoods,” explained Board member Dan Woods.
“So the thought is this should stabilize and revitalize these communities, and also ensure that these residents are not displaced as a result of land banking from those communities.”
Woods’ report centered around a strong recommendation that the Pittsburgh Land Bank model its policies and procedures after those used in Genesee County, MI.
After discussing its own six principles “in order of importance,” the Interim board together at the table tweaked it and came up with the following eight, in order, for the time being:
1. Neighborhood revitalization and/or stabilization ( …related to a community process)
2. Affordable housing: the production or rehabilitation of housing for persons with low-moderate incomes
3. Promotion of Homeownership
4. Return of property to tax-paying status
5. Land assemblage for community, economic development.
6. Land assemblage for public and community green space and infrastructure
7. Provision of financial resources for operating functions.
8. Long term (+5 years) “banking of properties for future strategic uses”
It was noted several times that the priorities are interrelated.
Ronell Guy was keen on finding ways to prioritize the Land Bank’s ability to “expand equity in the neighborhood. It needs to provide real opportunity.” She also suggested that the definition of “low-to-moderate income” be inclusive of up to 120% of area median income, “to be fair.”
Kim Salinetro clarified a concern that people understand the Pittsburgh Land Bank is “not going to buy your home, revitalize it, and let you stay in it. I wouldn’t want that to be a number one priority of the Land Bank.”
“We have to make it easier for people to invest in the community,” explained Salinetro. “Right now, they don’t have that at all.”
The Board for the first time accepted public comments, and announced that in the future it will be doing so at the top of its 3:00 biweekly meetings.
The Interim Board’s scheduled Policies and Procedures conversation about SUPPORTING SOCIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY DIVERSE COMMUNITIES was deemed as moot, subsumed by the framework of the 6 to 8 use of property priorities today discussed.
Its scheduled consideration of its own board budget was tabled indefinitely pending reengagement with its board Treasurer, Matt Barron.
A worker with Information Systems dropped in with a notepad to help the board together suggest appropriate updates to the city Land Banking website.
On matters of getting timely access to a piece of City information, once or twice a board member would wonder aloud, “Who is here from the City?” And on matters of determining exactly how to arrange board e-mail addresses and how to update the website: “You know, there are people who do this.”
Board member Lloyd Hedlund reminded the board on several occasions that the permanent Land Bank board gets to take votes, and these Polices and Procedures will be “more like guidelines”.
The role if any of community groups in the Land Banking process, and if so which community groups, permeated the as-yet hardly spoken conversation. Guy suggested that communities lacking a unified and legitimate Community Plan, active community groups, and/or organizational capacity ought to be furnished with some protections and support.
Bethany Davidson of PCRG told the Comet after the meeting that the Genesee County Land Bank is “the best place to start,” but that land banks have since developed other concepts and formulae that are just as worth looking at.