Seeking the best and worst vacant lots in the city

The city has a lot of lots - va­cant ones, that is. The Cam­paign to Take Back Va­cant Land wants to find the best and worst of them, and help fix up the worst.

There is a whole lot of noth­ing to look at in Phil­adelphia, and there’s an or­gan­iz­a­tion that wants pho­tos of it all.

The Cam­paign to Take Back Va­cant Land, a co­ali­tion of 40 labor, com­munity and faith-based groups, is seek­ing pic­tures of the city’s best- and worst-used va­cant lots.

There are plenty to choose from. Ac­cord­ing to TB­VL, there are 40,000 blighted lots and build­ings in Phil­adelphia.

The con­test’s pur­pose is to height­en pub­lic aware­ness of the blight the cam­paign says plagues the city. Since 2011, the or­gan­iz­a­tion has been push­ing for cre­ation of a land bank that would con­vert empty, aban­doned or tax-de­lin­quent prop­er­ties in­to pro­duct­ive uses – like food pro­duc­tion or af­ford­able hous­ing.

There are va­cant or aban­doned par­cels pretty much all over the city, and the or­gan­iz­a­tion has been get­ting pho­to­graphs from many neigh­bor­hoods, TB­VL or­gan­izer Nijmie Dzurinko said in an Aug. 15 phone in­ter­view.

“We’ve had a lot of sub­mis­sions,” Dzurinko said.

This year, City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (D-7th dist.) in­tro­duced a bill to cre­ate a Phil­adelphia Land Bank. The meas­ure has not been re­por­ted out of Coun­cil’s Com­mit­tee of the Whole yet, Dzurinko said.

“We want a hear­ing on that bill,” she said. “We want a strong land bank.”

The coun­cil­wo­man’s meas­ure, Bill No. 120052, was in­tro­duced in Feb­ru­ary.

It calls for cre­ation of a land bank that would ac­quire, hold and dis­pose of va­cant prop­erty as well as con­sol­id­ate all pub­licly owned sur­plus prop­erty.

“The mis­sion of the Land Bank is to re­turn va­cant prop­erty to pro­duct­ive status us­ing a uni­fied, pre­dict­able and trans­par­ent pro­cess, thereby re­vital­iz­ing neigh­bor­hoods and strength­en­ing the city’s tax base,” the meas­ure reads.

In a re­cent news re­lease, the TB­VL stated it sup­ports “re-in­tro­du­cing and strength­en­ing the bill to en­sure a trans­par­ent and ac­count­able land bank with a clear man­date on who gets land or for what.”

There is no fee to enter the con­test. Sub­mis­sions may in­clude up to three pho­tos along with short de­scrip­tions and con­tact in­form­a­tion. The con­test will run through Aug. 31.

Send to via e-mail to take­back­va­cant­ or by U.S. Mail to Take Back Va­cant Land c/o Liberty Re­sources, 714 Mar­ket St., Phil­adelphia, PA 19106, or up­load to www.face­­paignTo­Take­Back­Va­cant­Land

Win­ners will re­ceive home or yard im­prove­ment gift cards as well as cleanups for the worst lots.

In an ad­di­tion­al ef­fort to im­prove the city’s va­cant lots, the or­gan­iz­a­tion Keep Phil­adelphia Beau­ti­ful has ini­ti­ated its “Light Up Your Lots” cam­paign. KPB is sup­ply­ing com­munit­ies with sol­ar powered light kits as a de­terrent to night­time trash dump­ing and oth­er acts of crime and van­dal­ism.

To be eli­gible for lights, a lot must be main­tained with low-cut ve­get­a­tion, must get six to eight hours of sun daily, and must have a means to se­cure the lights. KPB will donate up to $100 in light­ing for the lot if eli­gib­il­ity is met.

To ap­ply, email phoebe@keep­phil­adelphia­beau­ti­ with the loc­a­tion, size and main­ten­ance sched­ule of the lot.

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or

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