On April 24, WeConservePA sent the following letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to advocate on behalf of member organization Neighborhood Gardens Trust. The bill empowers community garden groups and others to combat urban blight and build natural community spaces in urban places with an expedited timetable. Additionally, it is hoped that by supporting such legislation in Philadelphia that a healthy precedent could be established that might eventually be applicable for the remainder of Pennsylvania’s cities.
April 24, 2023
The Honorable Lisa Baker, Chair
Senate Judiciary Committee
Re. SB 645
Dear Chair Baker,
On behalf of the 70 member organizations of WeConservePA and their more than 100,000 Pennsylvania members, I ask you to call up SB 645 for a vote and vote in the affirmative to advance the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
More than 300,000 Philadelphia residents live on blocks with one or more abandoned houses or lots. These derelict buildings and parcels create tremendous health, safety, and financial problems for those in the surrounding homes. SB 645 would remove a serious impediment to residents turning many of these blights on communities into community assets. It would adjust government rules regarding adverse possession in order to honor and accelerate private initiatives of converting abandoned, blighted properties into productive, community-serving gardens.
SB 645 would reduce the statutory period for adverse possession from twenty-one years to ten years for derelict lots that are redeveloped into gardens in Philadelphia. More than 40,000 vacant lots in the city heavily burden residents. This bill will allow individuals and organizations that have restored blighted lots and maintained them as gardens in communities for at least five years to pursue clear title. Reducing the statutory period to ten years would also place Pennsylvania in line with many other states that have shortened their statutory period.
SB 645 would help power the engine of private initiative and community energy to meaningfully address the vexing problem of blighted lots and do so without requiring government expenditures or other involvement.
Thank you for your consideration.
Andrew M. Loza