City Council returns to deliberate on neighborhood development, pot

Pat Loeb
January 24, 2019 - 7:15 am
Philadelphia City Hall.

Holli Stephens / KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council returns from a month-long break on Thursday. They will be asked to look at neighborhood development.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez plans to introduce two bills. One would reform the land bank that she helped create, with high hopes, in 2014. The results have been a disappointment, which Sanchez blames on a backlog of unprocessed applications and competing land agencies. 

Her bill would put a deadline on executing sales and impose restrictions on the redevelopment of city-owned property, in light of incidents where elected officials or their friends benefitted from flipping city land.

Another bill would create an oversight committee for federal Opportunity Zones, created in the 2017 tax cut bill. Investors can tax-shelter capital gains by reinvesting them in the zones, on the theory that they'll spur investment, but Sanchez says they could intensify gentrification.

"There is not clear direction and regulation to provide enough incentive and guardrails to protect neighborhoods," she said. "This is about making sure that our planning, our incentives and our infrastructure investments align to insure equitable development."

Sanchez says the committee would recommend policies to promote fair and equitable development.

Councilman Derek Green plans to introduce a bill that would ask voters whether they think it would be a good idea to legalize marijuana. The city can't do it on its own, but he says, seeing as the governor is talking about it, -- "I would like to get the perspective of citizens within the city of Philadelphia if they think that's a good or a bad idea."