Yinz Town Land Bank: Who shall run it?

Six Revisions

The loyal opposition gets a gold star today for seizing an opportunity to open a ripe discussion.

City Councilors Lavelle, Burgess, Kail-Smith and Harris (in that chronological order) voiced concerns about Councilor Gross’s proposed ordinance to supplement the City Code.

The four explained that the proposal may cede too much “Land Bank Power”* to the Mayor, or that it may not sufficiently address the inequitable distribution of “Bankable Land”* across the city (it tends to collect in hard-luck tracts and pockets). These sorts of difficulties they suggested might necessitate more of a Council role at the code or general level.

There remains a special session and a public hearing to be scheduled. Burgess motioned to hold today’s considerations, having established that we ought get hype*.

*- Editor’s terms

BONUS: Transition buy-outs and position eliminations: this looks like the ticket.

20 thoughts on “Yinz Town Land Bank: Who shall run it?

  1. Shawn Carter

    This isn't about opposition to anything except the creation of a third-party to acquire and dispose of at the will of a Board, the majority of whose members are appointed by a Mayor, 20% of the property in the City.

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    I don't want to prejudice the discussion, especially because there are some excellent points being raised, but said Board will also be subject to bylaws.

    The presently written legislation says 4 seats will be appointed by the Mayor, 3 by a majority vote from among City Council, and that they will craft bylaws after 60 days and public hearings.

    This is all very standard, which is not to say we cannot play. So long as the result comports with state law.

  3. Bram Reichbaum

    This doesn't directly address the equity argument, but in regards to the political balance how about one spot for the City Controller? They always get overlooked in these things, but they're an elected with a citywide constituency and it might be nice having someone on the board level charged with voicing accounting concerns.

  4. Mark Rauterkus

    Could someone compare and contrast the mythical Land Bank and the existing URA? What's the diff?

    And, could the URA change its policies or approach and have a complete overlap of what the Land Bank aims to do?

  5. Mark Rauterkus

    Bram talks about “loyal opposition” and then Shawn is posting about “creation of a third-party” N@. Humm.

    Really, these matters are more like different feathers on the same wing of the city's D party.

  6. Bram Reichbaum

    The URA facilitates public grants, for one thing. The Land Bank expedites title transfer in ways the URA cannot. The two bodies would have to be chummy, not territorial as sometimes happens in gov't. Does not sound like we can fold a Land Bank into our URA. I'm not sure if we could fold our URA functions into our Land Bank, but we surely could not until we answer for the URA's obligations and get the state to say hey to efficiency.

  7. MH

    Would this land bank have some nice plot somewhere in Squirrel Hill or nearby? I want to get a cheap plot of land to put a garden on. Sort of like a community garden, except I don't want other people to share it with me.

  8. Anonymous

    I still don't understand how it is paid for. Where does the money come from? and don't say delinquent taxes because that money is already budgeted to something else.

  9. Anonymous

    This is simply an attempt to give the Peduto administration the ability to control who gets what properties and dictate development in communities that may not necessarily want the type of expansion you've seen with Bakery Square and East Liberty. I am also wondering exactly where the money is going to come from to pay for this program. I'm equally concerned about the fact that the councilor who supposedly wrote the legislation didn't take into consideration the fact that there needs to be a funding source. More champagne ideas on a PBR budget. Thank god for Act 47 or we would be in real trouble. I read the District 7 Land Bank for dummys link on the website, completely useless. I know what the hell a land bank is, I want to know how Ms. Gross plans to actually implement it. Not a very good show for her first attemp at making an impact. She should have studied the legislation a bit more so she actually had at least an inkling of what the hell was being proposed.

  10. Bram Reichbaum

    Funding = A kick start, followed by proceeds from property sales?

    “Type of expansion we've seen with Bakery Square” … I hope not, at least in every respect, or too much. Do you really think that is the only direction this is bound? Seems as though if anything, this Mayor is given to being overly cautious about mega-development.

  11. BrianTH

    Ah yes, the long arms of the Peduto Administration reached out to the state government, and back in time to 2012, and forced it to pass a new land bank law.

    There is in fact a real need here. I've talked with people who have identified tax-delinquent properties they would like to acquire, and the existing process is a total mess and proved unworkable. So I believe the estimates it would take many decades using the current process to clear all the delinquent properties.

    Accordingly, doing something to speed up the process of clearing these properties seems like a good idea, unless you think it is actually preferable for them to remain vacant. But of course that doesn't mean discussions about who will govern the process and how it will get start-up funding (ongoing funding, as Bram points out, should be provided by operations) are inappropriate. I just hope we can keep those discussions within the context of trying to make this idea work as well as possible, rather than trying to torpedo it.

  12. Bram Reichbaum

    What? Conceivably. I mean, land banking has been around since Mesopotamia, but the means to achieve it appropriately and on scale have swirled. Wouldn't be surprised if she's been involved in recent thinking, but the state Legislature really empowered this opportunity. I also wouldn't be too quick to overlook Deb Gross's imprint on this scheme. Bonus points for legality.

  13. Anonymous

    Totally agree that Gross deserves credit here – absolutely in agreement. Just looking to offer evidence to counter the assertion above that Land Banking is a Peduto land-grab scheme…


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