Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today submitted legislation to City Council for the creation of a Land Recycling Task Force to assist with the development of a plan for how the City can better recycle tax delinquent and abandoned properties.
"The goal of the task force is to recommend comprehensive land recycling strategies that will address issues of tax delinquency and abandonment and increase the viability of our neighborhoods," Ravenstahl said. "Ultimately, we hope to put more properties back on the tax rolls and improve our neighborhoods."
The task force will come up with a plan to combat abandoned tax delinquent properties. Some of these strategies may include revisions in tax collection; setting up a system whereby third-parties such as community groups can more easily acquire these properties; best practices on maintaining properties after site control; and how to best market properties once acquired.
"If we don't gain more control over our abandoned properties, we can't control our City's destiny," Ravenstahl said. "We must break down these silos of how certain properties are staying tax delinquent and abandoned and diminishing the quality of life in our neighborhoods."
The task force will be composed of up to 25 members, appointed by Mayor. It would include, but not be limited to, city and county departments, community groups, community-based nonprofits, public authorities, and local and state legislators that have an interest and current or potential future role in the land recycling system.
"This issue is so prevalent for our City, that the commitment of the task force and the diversity of the stakeholders are integral to our future success," Ravenstahl said.
"Land recycling is the most important work we can do in the City right now," said Councilman Patrick Dowd. "It's also an opportunity to work with our neighboring municipalities toward a regional solution to the problem of vacant and abandoned housing. Getting this plan done is crucial to revitalizing our neighborhoods and reversing population decline."
The City of Pittsburgh was recently selected to participate in the highly competitive Community Land Reform Initiative (CLRI), a joint program of the Center for Land Reform and Harvard University's Kennedy School for Government, to explore successful approaches to implementing large-scale recycling systems that are financially sustainable and are not dependent on public or private grant funds. As part of this initiative, consultants from CLRI will assist with the task force.
The task force is set to hold its first meeting in early March and will have 24 months to complete the plan.
In October, as part of the agreement to outsource delinquent tax collection to Jordan Tax Service, the Mayor along with the Pittsburgh Community and Reinvestment Group (PCRG), committed to developing this task force.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
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Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687