Government
11:47 am
Sun November 18, 2012

City Councilman Proposes New Agency to Address Blighted Properties

One Pittsburgh City Councilman has proposed a bill that would create a Pittsburgh LandBank, a board that would bring together various city agencies and authorities to create a long-term strategy for buying and repurposing abandoned properties.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said the board would be made up of staffers from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Authority, the Finance Department, and the Law Department. He said they'd write a plan for the city to address blight.

"We begin to amass large amounts of land in the city that's currently vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent," said Burgess. "We acquire those properties, we clear the title to those properties, and we begin to put them into a better use."

Burgess said that "better use" could be any number of things, depending on the property.

"For some properties, that will mean being torn down and turned into green space," said Burgess. "For others, they're simply being cut and maintained. For some, they'll be rehabilitated. For some, it means brand new redevelopment."

Burgess said the legislation would force the city government to take care of property that it can't do anything about right now.

"Because the properties are not owned by the city, the city is really not responsible for it, nor does the city cut those lots that are vacant, board up those houses unless they become a public safety nuisance," said Burgess. "What this does is puts those blighted houses on the city's responsibility."

The East End Councilman said he thinks the majority of the vacant and blighted properties across the city could be rehabilitated in a decade.

The bill has been held for a post-agenda discussion, though the meeting hasn't yet been scheduled.