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Committee of Seventy Supports the Call for a Review of City Land Sales

Patrick Christmas | 267-940-4503 | pchristmas@seventy.org | December 6, 2018

Committee of Seventy Supports the Call for a Review of City Land Sales

The Committee of Seventy is joining the call made this week by the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities for the City Controller to conduct a review of city land sales. Reporting by the Inquirer and Daily News confirm the continuation of City Council’s problematic role in land disposition, a longtime concern for Seventy.

“This is a complex issue that warrants much greater scrutiny and public discussion,” said Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. “Input from district council members can be important, but the system clearly is not working openly or fairly at all times.”

Seventy supported the creation of the Philadelphia Land Bank in 2013, which was a significant leap forward in city land disposition, but expressed concerns around transparency and the impact of “councilmanic prerogative” -- a practice that gives individual Council members tremendous power over development in their districts.

“City legislators having a say in city land use is not uncommon, especially in older cities with district representation,” said Policy Director Patrick Christmas. “But Philadelphia is growing. We should be constantly reviewing the processes in place to ensure land and development decisions are made fully in the light of day and with thorough public participation.”

With five years of experience with the Land Bank to consider, Seventy agrees that this is the appropriate time for City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart’s office to conduct a review.

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The Committee of Seventy is a nonpartisan civic leadership organization that advances representative, ethical and effective government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania through citizen engagement and public policy advocacy.

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