More cities are beginning to utilize vacant lots and properties in their communities for a variety of social and economic benefits, but a similar effort in Philadelphia may not have such a happy ending. After a local businessman invested his own money into turning the vacant lot adjacent to his shop into a park, the property owner (the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority) threatened legal action unless he restores the lot to its original condition.
"This is a clear instance of good Samaritanism," writes Berg. "But it's also a clear case of someone illegally using land that does not belong to them." Berg contends that such cleanup efforts could decrease crime rates in the area and draw more visitors, but in this instance the penalty for bypassing the administrative process to achieve these benefits could undermine the entire effort.
In the end, it's a lesson learned for this local businessman and other communities about the legal issues surrounding the use of vacant land.