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An organization that works to get community access to vacant land recently moved from a Manhattan office space to Build It Green in Gowanus. Paula Segal, the Executive Director of 596 Acres, described it as a wonderful development, in an email.
The organization works locally and nationally to help communities get access to vacant land for better uses. One of those ways of interest to technologists is they keep a digital, open map (it’s right on the front page, but here’s a guide). The map doesn’t just show vacant lots, but lots owned privately, those owned publicly, which ones community organizations have access to and which one has a group working for access.
You could call it hacking land. Register here to attend a conference of land hackers (our words, not theirs) in April at the New School in Manhattan. The event is called “Turning Vacant Acres into Community Resources.”
Their work led to a set of legislation in the New York Assembly, Senate and City Council that would have made it possible for private landowners to pay no property taxes if they let their vacant land go to some community benefit. None of those pieces of legislation moved, however.
One thing that has moved, though, is that data on tax lots city wide has now become free to access from the planning department. Formerly, it was an expensive license widely paid for by those in the land business, but not affordable for community organizations. The city maintained data has finally opened up, and you can get the data here.
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