MACo Supports Land Banks to Revitalize Neighborhoods

MACo’s Associate Director, Natasha Mehu, submitted written testimony in favor of legislation (SB 957) that would provide counties with the ability to establish land banks — a tool to help revitalize problem properties and stabilize neighborhoods with the Land Bank Authorities bill.

MACo’s testimony states

SB 957 authorizes counties and municipalities to establish a land bank authority. A land bank offers a process for public funds to be used for targeted revitalization efforts. It can be an effective tool in real estate markets that suffer from an abundance of problem properties and a lack of private sector investment needed to make the area marketable. Land banks can be used to remove barriers such as title acquisition, tax delinquencies, low market values, and outstanding liabilities that prevent or slow the transfer of properties to new and responsible owners.

SB 957 properly leaves the local government as the decision-maker for whether establishing a land bank is in their best interest. Jurisdictions that find land banks beneficial to their community-based plans will have the authority to establish them. Jurisdictions that do not, have the discretion to continue to use whatever available tools are most effective for their local circumstances.

This bill offers local governments an innovative tool to help turn distressed properties into assets, improving the neighborhood in the process.

The cross-file to the bill (HB 1168) was heard by the House Environment & Transportation committee on February 28. Click here for previous Conduit Street coverage.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.