Monday, April 17, 2006

Why Land Banks Are Necessary For Detroit? By Akindele Akinyemi

Detroit and Wayne County must work together on setting up a joint land bank authority in Southeast Michigan.

The reason?

According to Genessee County Treasurer Dan Kildee there is a growing national interest in land banking as a tool to revitalize older urban areas. Mr. Kildee leads the Genesee Institute, the county land bank’s research and technical assistance affiliate, which has provided services and expertise in land banking to 10 communities nationwide. Another national role that Kildee plays is advisor to the National Vacant Properties Campaign, a Washington-based non-profit collaborative working to make vacant property reclamation an attainable goal nationwide.

Mr. Kildee has stated there is statewide support growing in Michigan for land banks. Aside from Wayne County and the City of Detroit, there are five communities in the process of forming authorities: Calhoun, Jackson, Grand Traverse, Berrien, and Muskegon. Saginaw and Ingham counties have already formed authorities.

So why is Detroit and Wayne County afraid to come into the 21st century?

Try paranoia.

We are still a region strifed with segregation. The US vs. them mentality. Black vs. White. I have never been in such a segregated community in my life. There is so much paranoia.

We need land banks in Detroit because there are over 90,000 vacant lots in the city alone. "We need a land bank that has the capacity to amass, clear the title, bundle the properties, and get them ready for development," says the Rev. Robert O. Dulin, Jr., pastor of the Metropolitan Church of God.

I agree with Rev.Dulin. I mean how many black people are in the real estate business. I know 10 off hand. How many black brokers do we have? What about brothers and sisters dying to redevelop land for their schools and businesses?

If white people want to step to the plate let them. It's called competition. This is what America is SUPPOSED to be about.

On one end, I applaud Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano for moving ahead on the Wayne County Land Bank Authority. However, this is still not regionalization. We need Detroit to jump on board with land banks.

Gennesse County operates a land bank authority. So does the city of Cleveland and Atlanta. In fact, regionalization is happening in Fulton County and Atlanta because their land bank authority is jointly ran. Louisville, KY operates a land bank authority.

I mean, Jesus, I wish people here would get it together.

Anotther reason for a Land Bank Authority is to acquire tax delinquent properties to use for improving jobs, industry and housing for the public. Not to mention the significant numbers of abandoned tax delinquent properties in urban areas pose substantial obstacles to community redevelopment and constitute threats to health, safety and welfare of residents.

The Michigan Land Bank and Community Development Authority Act is designed to address the remaining barriers to the conversion of these properties into productive use. The key mechanism is the creation of a state land bank authority, and parallel land bank authorities at the local government level for those jurisdictions that elect to create such an authority. This Act will permit a land bank to undertake expedited quiet title procedures for properties acquired under the previous statutes. It will authorize land banks to convey properties to public and private third parties for public purposes as determined by the governmental entities. It will permit the governmental land banks to subsidize new residential, retail and commercial development by providing land for development, effectively converting what is presently a liability to the community into a productive tax generating asset.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watsin is against land banks in Detroit and has proposed utilizing what is known as a land trust.

What is a land trust?

Land Trusts are local, regional, or statewide nonprofit conservation organizations directly involved in helping protect natural, scenic, recreational, agricultural, historic, or cultural property. Land trusts work to preserve open land that is important to the communities and regions where they operate. Land trusts respond rapidly to conservation needs and operate in cities, rural, and suburban areas.

Sounds good right?

Land Trusts also do the following:

Operate in every state in the nation protecting land of local, regional, and national importance.

Collectively, America's nearly 900 independent land trusts:

protect 2.7 million acres
own 437,000 acres
hold conservation easements on another 450,000 acres
have acquired, protected, and transfered 668,000 acres to other organizations and agencies
have used other direct methods to help protect another 1,159,000 acres

What Councilwoman Watson fails to share with her constituents on land trusts are the inability to defend conservation easements, protected property will go out of business or cease to operate, and land trusts will not be able to complete required stewardship.

The other things Councilwoman Watson forgot to share are the following on land trusts:

(1) Changing laws, government regulations, and changing legal system.

(2) Legal challenges; cost of legal challenges; court decisions.

(3) Eminent Domain/Condemnation

(4) Lack of capacity to monitor and steward, or difficulty in enforcing and defending easements.

(5) Land trust goes bankrupt/permanence of land trust.

(6) Changes in organization, stability of organization, lack of (experienced) human resources.

(7) Changes in property ownership or problems with secondary or later easement holders.

(8) Loopholes in easements, poorly written easements, older easements

(9) Rising costs of land

So why would Councilwoman Watson want to push such a dangerous measure for Detroit? Becaue when you expose this land trust for what it is it's indirect government control.

Socialism. It never fails in Detroit.

If we are going to be a 21st Century world class city we must push for land banks NOT land trusts.

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