Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a bill to establish a public land bank at their final meeting before the holiday recess, held Dec. 12 at City Hall. As stated in a press release from the Philadelphia Land Bank Alliance by bill sponsor Councilwoman María Quiñones Sánchez, “This Land Bank will finally give Philadelphia the tools we need to reclaim our neighborhoods from blight, abandonment, and tax delinquency, and to get properties back into productive reuse.”
The bill, proposed in March of this year by Sánchez, underwent significant changes in the last few weeks at the prompting of Council President Darrell Clarke. Clarke initially pledged support for Sánchez’s version of the bill, but expressed concerns over the lack of Council oversight to the purchasing and disbursement processes, much to the surprise and dismay to land bank champions. The Council President proposed several significant amendments to the bill after it was voted out of committee and after the period of public testimony had concluded in late October.