Gather up. Councilman Daniel Lavelle earns another gold star, this one with platinum tail, for hitting pitch-perfect posture towards the land bank bill.
There are two issues which bear reflection: an analogy and a suggestion.
Towards the analogy: Any City once twice as populous still halfway abandoned, with broad and uneven clusters of vacant, tax-delinquent and sometimes crumbling parcels contributing towards decay and chaos, can stand to benefit the judiciously expeditious exercise of land banking powers.
Right now, only the most economically secure of property speculators can afford to pursue and redevelop broad and key tracts, as their own opportunities and designs arise. Once upon a time, the public might have been thrilled to get directly involved in planning and organizing its community through its government -- or as directly as possible, as through a public agency like the URA or a City land bank devoted wholly to this business.
Yet there is apprehension. Public-spirited liberals have been burned before. 20th century urban renewal was catalogued. The Internet began making that knowledge far more common. And Occupy joined existing movements in radicalizing that waning faith in public institutions. Government decisions have not always been judicious or mindful.
In the end, this is a bit like a health-related epidemic in terms of neighborhood disinvestment. We fear to summon the Paramedics, because we are afraid that the Paramedics, instead of assessing, stabilizing, informing and serving us, will jab us with their needles, dose us on painkillers, secure us in the van and harvest our organs. Nevertheless, we really are wise to have empowered a Bureau of Paramedics to exist -- and to have put procedures, training and accountability in place so that health care is offered to residents soundly and as advertised, and we can transport resources and people to where they need to be.
Where some Greater neighborhoods have, for a very long time, been ailing on the couch.
Only instead of managing total warfare, here we would be shepherding productive peace. If one at-large City-wide land bank is felt by very many to be insufficiently overbearing to address community concerns, consider perhaps breaking it up into 3 to 5 smaller land bank jurisdictions. Recognizing that Pittsburgh is a City of neighborhoods, different strategies determined along different accountability chains may make common sense.
These sectional land banks could share certain resources as they deem fit. If nothing else, the Biden plan makes for a constructive thought-exercise.
Meetings looks to continue through February or all six weeks of duly amended and supplemented winter. It's a big'un, s'get it right.