No birthday gift for Quinones-Sanchez; Land Bank bill held

If Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez believes in birthday wishes, she certainly didn’t get hers today.

Quinones-Sanchez, who turns 45 today, and Council President Darrel L. Clarke met Thursday morning before council caucus to try to reach a deal on the Land Bank bill.

The bill, which is Quinones-Sanchez’s baby (or, well, child since she has been working on the effort since 2008), is caught in a stalemate between the her and Clarke.

As the primary sponsor of the bill, Quinones-Sanchez wants the land bank to be a streamline process for rescuing blighted property - whether by a developer who wants to build condos, or a neighborhood group that wants to plant a garden.

But the bill that came out of committee last month has the disposition as a three-part process, instead of one or two which has been advocated. So, a person who wants a vacant city lot would need an OK from the land bank's board, plus a Council resolution - and a green light from a Council advisory panel the Vacant Property Review Committee - known as the VPRC.

Clarke is insistent on keeping VPRC in the process. Quinones-Sanchez is now trying to get support to amend the bill so that Council members, as she put it, can "opt in or opt out," of going through VPRC. If a land bank decision involves land in their district, they can insist on sending that decision to the VPRC - or not.

Though Quinones-Sanchez described the meeting as “making progress,” on a deal, she still disagrees with Clarke’s vision for the bill and he disagrees with her.

They have two weeks left to work out those differences and come to some consensus.

“He made that commitment to me,” Quinones-Sanchez said about passing the land bank bill before the end of council’s fall term, Dec. 12.

Maybe she will get a belated birthday/early Christmas present from Clarke and the rest of her council colleagues ...

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