Taylor Presents Testimony on Blight Before Council Hearing
HARRISBURG -- Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) presented written testimony to City Council during its June 20 joint hearing of the Licenses and Inspections and Public Safety committees on negligent landlords.
Taylor, who could not appear in person due to commitments in Harrisburg, used the opportunity to discuss the legislation, like Act 90, which allows the city to seek out landlords who failed to pay their taxes or their properties fell in disrepair.
“In fact, the City of Philadelphia, through the hard work of outgoing Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Fran Burns and her hard-working staff, has already begun to go after property owners who were derelict in their obligations to maintain their parcels under the Property Maintenance Code,” Taylor said.
Taylor also praised the city’s blight court: “The City of Philadelphia’s Blight Court has reaped immediate dividends in collecting fines, but more importantly, in compelling these negligent owners to repair their properties,” he said. “I have already seen the results with certain owners in my legislative district. However, with these gains, we must continue to be vigilant.”
Taylor’s testimony then urged the city to use conservatorships, as outlined in Act 135, to fight blight. In a conservatorship, a third party is appointed to take control of a blighted and abandoned property and make the repairs necessary to return the property to productive use.
“This Act empowers members of the community to take control of a blighted property on the block, make the necessary repairs and sell to someone to establish roots within the community,” Taylor said. “The benefits are many. The city gets payment on delinquent taxes, as well as a continued source of tax revenue due to new ownership, and a local family gets a place to call home.”
Taylor then promoted a bill he’s been pushing through the House.
“One of the tools that has generated much public discussion is the creation of a land bank,” he said. “I am proud to have been the prime sponsor of House Bill 1682, which enables any county, city or borough with a population of 10,000 or more to establish a land bank, and authorizes any township, borough or town to form a land bank with any land bank jurisdiction through an intergovernmental cooperation agreement.”
A land bank is a governmental or nonprofit entity that acquires, holds and manages tax-foreclosed, abandoned properties. The main purpose is to return vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties to productive re-use in accordance with local and regional plans for smart growth and development.
House Bill 1682 has passed the House, but awaits action in the Senate.
“I commend Councilman Bobby Henon, and the rest of City Council, for all of their efforts to deal with negligent landlords and problem properties throughout Philadelphia,” Taylor said. “It is a tall order. However, despite our gains in this area, we can never again allow these issues to be ignored. In order to improve the quality of life for all our residents, and keep lifelong Philadelphians from moving out of the city they love, we must continue to be aggressive and proactive in our efforts. For all of our citizenry, let’s hold true to the belief that no block should be lost.”
State Representative John Taylor
177th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives