Land Bank Puts City Council And Revenue Department On Collision Course

by Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council’s President took an unusual step at Thursday’s session, in order to underscore his displeasure with the city’s process for disposing of vacant, tax-delinquent land.

Darrell Clarke came down from his lectern to the council floor so he could make a speech about recent Sheriff’s sales of property that he believes should have gone to the Land Bank.

The Land Bank was created three years ago as a way to tackle blight by clearing tax liens on vacant property so it could be used for community improvements such as parks, gardens, and affordable housing.

But Clarke says, too often, the Revenue Department sells it to speculators, to recover the tax liens, and the land continues to sit empty.

“That’s a problem, and we’re looking at an understanding between us and the revenue department about how we proceed, but not simply have people ignore the wish and the request of the council members, the land bank board, and all the stakeholders who fought to put this in place,” Clarke said.

Clarke introduced a resolution to hold hearings on the process.

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