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 – May 18, 2012

Top Stories

Erie and Chautauqua counties to get state land bank
Buffalo News (NY) – May 17, 2012
The Empire State Development Corp. on Thursday approved a joint application from Erie County and the cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna and Tonawanda, as well as one from Chautauqua County, giving the area the ability to start two of the state’s first land banks.

<a href="”>It’s Bike To Work Day! Use caution and share your experiences
Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock blog – May 18, 2012
Today is Bike to Work Day, and thousands of commuters are expected to ride bicycles to work.

City hopes to become more sustainable, vibrant with bicycling
Dayton Daily News (OH) – May 17, 2012
Dayton is planning on spending $12.1 million through 2018 — most from federal and state money — on street repair, and road reconstruction and repaving that includes adding bike lanes or making improvements to bike and pedestrian paths.


Smart growth news – December 1

Rethink College Park Awarded for Smart Growth Advocacy
College Park Patch (Md.), November 30, 2011
An advocacy group for development in College Park has been awarded by the state for its role in the community. … And the governor is recognizing the group for their contributions in smart growth. Rethink College Park was set to receive the Florence Beck Kurdle Award for Community Activism and Achievement this morning.

Holly Brinda wants city involved in land bank
The Chronicle Telegram (Ohio), November 30, 2011
Mayor-elect Holly Brinda wants Elyria to take the lead in the creation of a county land bank through the Thriving Communities Initiative, a program of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

Planning Advocates Call For Amendments to Economic Development Bill
New Jersey Future, December 1, 2011
The New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee will today consider passage of a bill (A4306) that, in its current form, will undermine the goals of the state’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit (UTHTC) program and weaken the state’s long-term economic competitiveness.


Smart growth news – November 3

Obama Says Crumbling Infrastructure Is Costly to Economy, Threatens Growth
Bloomberg, November 2, 2011
President Barack Obama said the deterioration of the nation’s highways, bridges, airports and ports is costly to U.S. business and threatens future economic growth.

US House speaker promotes transportation projects
Businessweek, November 1, 2011
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner spoke in favor Monday of pumping federal money into transportation construction and speeding regulatory review of those projects — comments that seemed to resonate in a region longing for new bridges to ease traffic snarls.

Transportation secretary ‘optimistic’ about infrastructure’s chances in Congress
The Hill, November 2, 2011
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday he’s optimistic legislation funding infrastructure projects could pass the Senate. “I’m optimistic, I think that if senators — both Republicans and Democrats — really are listening to people in their states they know that people are hurting,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC.


Smart growth news – October 21

Smaller is more beautiful
The Economist, October 22, 2011
Flint is in the middle of developing a 20-year master plan, the first since Jack Kennedy was in the White House. The old thinking was to sell tax-foreclosed property to whomever, even speculators. The new thinking is that land is an asset for the city. Since its creation in 2002, the Genesee County Land Bank has had the power to take control of and to redevelop vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent properties.

Social Security office moving to high-visibility location
The Anniston Star (Ala.), October 20, 2011
A high-profile strip mall on Quintard Avenue at Eighth Street will be getting a facelift from a new tenant set to move in after the first of the year, and city officials hope the whole downtown core will benefit. The Social Security Administration will be moving to 801 Quintard from its current 13th Street office, where it’s been since 1967. The Quintard address had previously been occupied by Advance Auto Parts but has been empty for about five years.

Sprawl not part of plan for jobs
Albany Times Union (N.Y.), October 20, 2011
If we’re going to grow, let’s not sprawl. That’s the message from the Capital Region Economic Development Council, which is moving forward on a five-year strategic plan for the greater eight-county area Hudson Valley region. Part of its draft plan would require new projects to conform to “smart growth” criteria adopted last year by the state.


Smart growth news – September 27

Planners, developers working to create upscale neighborhood downtown
La Crosse Tribune (Wis.), September 25, 2011
Call it a resurgence. Downtown La Crosse has added new businesses to once-vacant storefronts, attracted tenants to new high-end apartments and restored some of its oldest historic buildings — all during a recession.

Can You Visualize Nashua as a Livable City?
Nashua Patch (N.H.), September 23, 2011
Revitalizing a downtown requires some key ingredients — a bustling business economy, foot traffic, a mix of businesses with a diverse demographic draw, a sense that it’s clean and safe place to live and work, and most of all, liveability.

Cities Across U.S. Grapple With Tax Revenue Drop as Costs Rise, Aid Falls
Bloomberg, September 27, 2011
More than half, 57 percent, of municipal officials said finances were worse in fiscal 2011 than in 2010, the National League of Cities said today, citing a survey of municipal officials. Inflation-adjusted revenue is headed for a fifth- straight annual drop, while worker health-care and pension costs rose for more than 80 percent. Half said state aid has declined.


Smart growth news – September 19

Crumbling infrastructure ranks U.S. behind Barbados
Evansville Courier & Press (Ind.), September 17, 2011
The World Economic Forum, which as recently as 1995 listed U.S. infrastructure as tops in the world, now maintains the country has slipped to 23rd place behind, among others, Barbados. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its most recent infrastructure report card, gave the country a “D” and asserted it would require an investment of $2.2 trillion over five years to get it in shape.

New Carrollton to become home to Md. housing department
Washington Post, September 19, 2011
The department, which works on rental housing, neighborhood revitalization and foreclosure prevention, will move more than 330 employees from its Crownsville headquarters in Anne Arundel County to its new location in the late summer or early fall of 2013, officials said. The project is awaiting final approval from the state Board of Public Works, of which O’Malley (D) is a member. O’Malley said that moving from rural Anne Arundel to Prince George’s promotes smart growth and stimulates transit-oriented development, key priorities of his administration.

Pittsburgh seeking new ways to keep up with number of vacant properties
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 18, 2011
Flint, Mich., was in steep decline when Dan Kildee was elected Genesee County treasurer 14 years ago. His hometown’s days as a thriving, broad-shouldered factory town were gone. Most plants were shuttered or running well below capacity. Some 60,000 General Motors jobs alone were lost. And the city was well on its way toward shedding nearly half of its population. The fallout included an epidemic of vacant and abandoned properties. Tax delinquency was starving the city and school district of desperately needed revenue.


American Jobs Act's Project Rebuild Aims to Revitalize Vacant Homes

Originally posted on Huffington Post.

When the housing bubble popped in 2009, it left many American communities with foreclosed and vacant homes and businesses.

The American Jobs Act would help restore thousands of these abandoned properties and put construction workers back to work in the process with Project Rebuild. The $15 billion project would create thousands of jobs to tear down abandoned properties, renovate foreclosed homes and maintain abandoned properties until they can be sold once again. Intended to initially help communities with the largest number of foreclosed properties, Project Rebuild would create much-needed jobs and energize the country’s blighted communities at the same time. Key components of the project include:

  • Stabilizing communities by focusing on distressed commercial properties and redevelopment;
  • Federal funding to support for-profit development — when consistent with project aims and subject to strict oversight requirements;
  • Increased support for “land banking”;
  • Establishing property maintenance programs to create jobs and mitigate “visible scars” left by vacant/abandoned properties.

Smart growth news – September 14

American Jobs Act’s Project Rebuild Aims to Revitalize Vacant Homes
Huffington Post, September 14, 2011
The American Jobs Act would help restore thousands of these abandoned properties and put construction workers back to work in the process with Project Rebuild. The $15 billion project would create thousands of jobs to tear down abandoned properties, renovate foreclosed homes and maintain abandoned properties until they can be sold once again.

Minnesota considers partnerships to pay for infrastructure work
Finance & Commerce (Minn.), September 14, 2011
The Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense estimates that Minnesota would need to spend $672 million a year for the next 20 years to deal with the backlog of “poor” roads and “maintain all state-owned roads in good condition.”

Obama Program Calls for $15B for Foreclosure Rehab
Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2011
The president’s job-creation bill actually includes some aid for housing: It would create a $15 billion fund to get construction workers to rehab vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Construction hiring has been weak, of course, because competition from foreclosures has held new home building at abysmally low levels.


Smart Growth America supports American Jobs Act’s proposal to revitalize vacant properties, build better transit

Washington, DC – Smart Growth America supports President Obama’s call for federal investment strategies that will create jobs, modernize America’s transportation infrastructure and support the country’s economy as part of the American Jobs Act. In particular, Smart Growth America supports the following proposals which use smart growth strategies.

Project Rebuild ($15 billion)
Project Rebuild will connect Americans looking for work in distressed communities with the work needed to repair and repurpose residential and commercial properties.

Project Rebuild includes support for land banking, empowering public-private partnerships to speed up the redevelopment process, and a focus on redeveloping distressed commercial properties. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a state-wide land banking bill into law, enabling New York communities to strategically and swiftly re-purpose abandoned and vacant properties and, in time, lessening blight and bringing revitalization to many New York neighborhoods.