Salisbury bill to reduce blight passes PA House

HARRISBURG, June 29 – State Rep. Abigail Salisbury’s bill that would reduce severe blight and revitalize community properties passed the PA House yesterday.

The legislation (H.B. 1163) would update current property law to allow municipal governments to make vacant properties that have been severely blighted for five or more years subject to potential acquisition by land banks. Owners of such properties would be granted a set amount of time to make the repairs needed to reverse the designation and could appeal the designation.

"In my five years as a borough council member, I saw firsthand how these neglected vacant properties can become safety hazards and sources of frustration for communities,” said Salisbury, D-Allegheny. “Residents begged me to do something about these unused properties and asked if I could force the owners to use them or sell them, but I was powerless to do anything under state law. Now as a state representative, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to amend the current law so that local elected officials are able to respond to these residents with action.

“My goal with this legislation is to add another tool to local governments' toolboxes and help put properties back to productive use,” she added. “Today’s passage means that municipalities are that much closer to providing their residents with affordable housing and space for small businesses.”

Salisbury said her legislation would not require land banks to acquire vacant properties designated as abandoned and/or distressed but, instead, allow them to do so if they wish.

House Bill 1163 is Salisbury’s first bill as a state representative. It now heads to the state Senate for consideration.