Pennsylvania Governor signs Land Bank Act in to law

Last week Pennsylvania passed legislation that will equip communities in the state with a proven tool for fighting blight and vacancy and catalyzing economic development.

HB 1682, now known as the Land Bank Act, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and the Senate in October before finally being signed by Governor Tom Corbett on October 24, 2012.

The new legislation enables municipalities in Pennsylvania to create land banks, local entities that can hold and manage vacant properties and direct their reuse and redevelopment. Land banks make it easier and cheaper for prospective buyers to redevelop blighted properties into homes and businesses, ultimately reversing cycles of economic decline and getting delinquent properties back on municipal tax rolls.


Smart growth news – August 2

State land bank law will help Newburgh, officials say
Times Herald-Record (N.Y.), August 1, 2011
Officials in the City of Newburgh were already creating a land bank for residential properties, but the new law will allow them to bank commercial foreclosures, too. “We’re thrilled,” city fire Chief Michael Vatter said of the state law. “This gives us a lot of options to do stuff on Broadway or work with other commercial properties.”

Rural Schools Vs. Smart Growth In King County
KUPOW (Wash.), August 1, 2011
King County may close a loophole in its growth management planning for rural school construction. Smart growth advocates support the change to limit sprawl, but some rural districts are opposed because it could cost them more in construction costs. We’ll hear two perspectives.

Army aviation’s $400M home
El Paso Inc. (Texas), August 1, 2011
[Under second subheadline “Army ‘smart growth’”] In its effort to push smart growth principals the City of El Paso has an unlikely companion. A 15-year veteran of the Army, Wilson says she has never seen the Army build the way it is at Fort Bliss, putting so much care into the design and arrangement of its buildings.

Carless in Calhoun County: A reporter’s attempt to use public transportation and his bicycle to get to work
The Anniston Star (Ala.), July 31, 2011
Hitting the snooze button. Drinking six cups of coffee. Wolfing down a snack bar while running out the door. Riding halfway across the county on a bicycle to catch a bus that makes one stop every 55 minutes. What, that last one isn’t part of your daily commute to work?


Smart growth news – August 1

NY law allows land banks to address blight
Associated Press via Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a new law allowing for creation of municipal land banks, which take control of problem properties and then redevelop or dispose of them.

In search for talent, companies relocating to downtown Chicago
Chicago Tribune, July 31, 2011
As the office-space market slowly recovers, downtown Chicago is benefiting from a trend long in the making: companies relocating from the suburbs.

With no room to grow, Winchester has a plan to revitalize its core
Boston Globe, July 31, 2011
Winchester’s quaint town center, with its independent shops and boutiques, is known as the heart of the community, but a closer look reveals it is not beating as strongly as it could. With roughly 95 percent of Winchester’s tax base reliant on residential property and no open space for new development, town officials have turned their attention to the underutilized town center.

Louisville’s ‘brain gain’: Reversing a trend, number of better-educated young adults is on the rise
Courier-Journal (Ky.), July 29, 2011
Lynn Bosscher knew little about Louisville besides the Kentucky Derby when she moved here last year from Grand Rapids, Mich. Now some of her regular haunts are Cherokee Park and El Mundo — the cozy Frankfort Avenue restaurant where she takes guests from out of town.


Smart growth news – July 25, 2011

Land Bank Act will help N.Y.
Times Union (N.Y.), July 22, 2011
New York cities face a daunting vacancy crisis. Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, Troy and Utica all have vacancy rates over 10 percent, according to recent census data. Vacant properties pose a serious threat to New York communities by lowering surrounding property values, attracting crime, cutting into local tax revenues and perpetuating cycles of disinvestment.

U.S. Treasury to move into new building in downtown Birmingham
The Birmingham News, July 23, 2011
The U.S. Treasury Department will move its operations from Homewood to a new $19 million, 87,000-square-foot building to be built next to the new Social Security Building in downtown Birmingham.

Gas prices fuel mass-transit surge
The Miami Herald, July 21, 2011
From 1995 to 2009, national use of public transit increased by 34 percent, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association, a nonpartisan group that promotes mass-transit improvement. South Florida saw an increase of 37 percent from 2000 to 2009. In the state with the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities, venturing out of a car is especially risky. Miami residents’ commute time is also five minutes longer than the national average. But in the city that was recently ranked the eighth-most “walkable” in the country, people are willing to do it.

South San Francisco seeks to revitalize southern El Camino Real
San Jose Mercury, July 23, 2011
On Wednesday, the City Council is expected to consider approving the El Camino Real/Chestnut plan, which calls for high-density, mixed-use development in the area over the next generation.


Land Bank Act passes New York legislature; awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature

Late last week, in a victory for smart growth advocates across the state, the New York State legislature passed the Land Bank Act (A373A/S663A). Now awaiting signature into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the legislation would allow towns and cities in New York State to create land banks – entities that can hold and manage vacant and abandoned properties and return them to productive use.

New York’s Land Bank Act would provide major benefits to local economies by reversing cycles of decline and improving property values in communities across the state. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, the bill’s lead sponsor in the Assembly, described the positive economic impacts land banks can provide in a recent press release about the bill:

“Just as one vacant building can set off a cycle of contagious blight, with declining property values leading to further abandonments, a smart redevelopment plan, implemented by a land bank that can acquire, hold and assemble parcels of land for development, green space, or public works projects can reverse this non-virtuous cycle. Their work adds value to surrounding properties and strengthens local real estate markets.”