The Pennsylvania state legislature has approved a bill designed to give communities greater power to bring abandoned properties in line with community codes and standards. The Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act (House Bill 2188) would allow courts to appoint conservators with the power to rehabilitate and restore qualifying blighted properties–those that have been abandoned, are in violation of community codes, and have not been on the market for a specified time period, among other requirements. Ordinarily, communities would have to track down the owner of a neglected property and administer a court order in order to enforce community codes, a process that can be difficult to complete. The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania worked for the act’s passage and has more information on its website. The bill awaits final approval from Governor Ed Rendell before becoming law.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation has started integrating “Smart Transportation” principles into its operations as part of a new initiative. The Smart Transportation Initiative emphasizes reducing sprawl, allocating money to high-yield and high value projects, investing in existing infrastructure, and revitalizing communities by linking them to a variety of transit options. PennDOT aims to link up with local governments in order to influence land use to complement these goals. Restoring Prosperity partner 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania was able to shape a key component of the new initiative, the Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI), which offers funding for projects that promote local multi-modal development, existing infrastructure enhancements, and other smart transportation principles.
If you agree that now is the time for this legislation to be passed into law, please visit their web page for more information, and inform your Senator that this is an important opportunity!
|Philly photo by Flickr user sally lindsay, sallynoggin photo|
Pennsylvania is the sixth largest state, but also one of the slowest growing states in the country. Nearly all of Pennsylvania's major metropolitan areas are classified as struggling in terms of their economic and residential health, making a revitalization agenda critical to Pennsylvania's future as a whole. The state's struggling older industrial cities, as identified in the Brookings Institution's report, include Allentown, Altoona, Erie, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, and Scranton.
The Campaign to Renew Pennsylvania is an effort, led by 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, to reverse these trends. Its mission is to create a climate for systemic policy reform in Pennsylvania to improve government effectiveness, community quality of life, and economic competitiveness. As a part of this work, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania joined a private developer in a commitment to focus development in urban brownfields and vacant properties instead of in suburban greenfields.
In addition, with support from 10,000 Friends, Governor Ed Rendell signed state legislation into law in July of 2007 that opened an era of historic investment in Pennsylvania's bridges, roads, and public transportation systems. Over a period of ten years, the bill dedicates more than $500 million in average annual funding to bridge and road repairs and $414 million for public transit systems in the state. In his 2008-09 budget, Governor Rendell went further by providing nearly $2 billion for repairs, water and sewer infrastructure, high-hazard dams, and outmoded rail and aviation facilities, as well as $1.2 billion to upgrade the state's drinking water and wastewater facilities and rehabilitate dams.
State Partners: 10,000 Friends of PA
Contact: Julie Lalo, lalo [at] 10000friends [dot] org