A coalition of organizations launched PhillyLandBank.org last week in hopes of organizing the community around the formation of a land bank, a city authority that would streamline the sale of city-owned vacant land.
City Council introduced an updated bill to create the land bank earlier this month. It aims to tackle Philly’s wide-reaching vacant land problem: the city has more than 40,000 vacant parcels.
PhillyLandBank.org is both an advocacy tool and an information portal for land bank progress, said Rick Sauer, executive director for the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, one of the organizations who is taking the lead on the website. The site offers news updates, a primer on land banks and ways to get involved.
The development of the site is another example of using technology to organize a community. Land bank backers can now use social media and their website to build an informed audience that they can reach immediately when they need support (i.e, a City Council hearing). It could also prove a powerful political tool for the Councilmembers who sponsored the bill (María Quiñones-Sánchez, Bill Green, Curtis Jones and Darrell Clarke). Their offices are coordinating with the dozen organizations that launched the site, said Jennifer Kates, Quiñones-Sánchez’s legislative aide.