Ohio Land Bank Conference Sessions 2012

Mobile Workshops – Tuesday 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

  1. Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture
    This mobile workshop will focus on projects addressing the problems of urban blight and the urban food desert in a major urban area. Participants will tour Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone, visit the site of Green City Growers – a 5-1/2 acre greenhouse project, Chateau Hough – an urban vineyard, and Rid All Green Partnership – an official Growing Power Environmental Science Commercial Urban Agriculture Training Center serving the Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania regions. The workshop will be conducted by a program coordinator of the Urban Agriculture Program of the Ohio State University Extension, with on-site presentations by at Rid All Farm and Chateau Hough.
  2. Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland: Grassroots Neighborhood Stabilization Through Vacant Lot Reuse
    More than a plan for reuse of vacant land, “Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland” has become the mantra for the revitalization work happening throughout Cleveland. The City, nonprofits and institutions have partnered with grassroots organizations and homeowners to repurpose over 200 parcels into 124 land reuse projects. Ranging from side yards, gardens and farms to native plant pathways, vineyards and orchards, these projects illustrate a broad spectrum of creative uses that foster community stewardship and help to stabilize surrounding properties. Join representatives from Neighborhood Progress, Inc. and the Re-Imagining Cleveland community as they share a cross section of projects. The tour will also include an in-depth explanation of the program including planning, partnerships, maintenance, movement building and lessoned learned. (This mobile workshop will be repeated on Wednesday morning).

Session A – Tuesday 1:30 – 2:20 p.m.

  1. Weeds to Wildflowers: gregg’s gardens
    An innovative public/private/non-profit partnership in Warren, Ohio is replacing weed-choked vacant lots with gardens and mini-parks filled with wildflowers and native plants selected for their ability to thrive in the Northeastern Ohio climate. Investments in gregg’s gardens make good economic sense because they require no mowing and relatively little maintenance, yet offer rewards to the community with an explosion of color each spring and summer. This session will discuss how this project was conceived and implemented through a sponsorship model, and how it will be maintained in the years to come.
  2. Borrowing in the Capital Markets: An Option for Recently Formed County Land Banks
    An examination of the issues, requirements and challenges associated with newly-formed land banks accessing the capital markets.  Identifying the manner in which program objectives may impact the plan of finance will be discussed.  Methods of sale (public offering vs. private placement), issuer options (stand-alone vs. sponsoring county vs. “hybrid” approach) and various debt structuring alternatives will also be reviewed.
  3. Building Land Bank Support from Day One
    Treasurer Carolyn Rice shares insights gained from being an early champion of land banking starting with convincing legislators to expand the authorization to counties with populations of 60,000 or more through getting a land bank in her county up and running.  She will share the good, the bad, and the ugly of those experiences to allow participants to chart the smoothest path to buy-in possible.

Session B – Tuesday 2:30 – 3:20 p.m.

  1. Leveraging end user investment to undertake residential and commercial redevelopment in Lucas County
    The Lucas County Land Bank has built a successful redevelopment model that focuses on building partnerships with third party end users, including private investors and community stakeholders.  This model can be particularly useful for small and mid-sized land banks that do not have access to a large staff or development budget.  This session will be centered on Lucas County’s successes and challenges in utilizing this redevelopment strategy and will include a discussion on implementation strategies for end-user driven models.
  2. Strategic Code Enforcement and Tax Sales
    Existing building, housing and zoning codes, if strategically enforced, are an effective tool in revitalizing our communities. This session will provide information on how code enforcement has been used by the City of Cleveland. Discussion will include how code enforcement can be effectively utilized by municipalities and land banks.
  3. Property Profile Data Systems
    Learn how the Cuyahoga Land Bank manages its property and project management information through their cloud based “Property Profile System”. Features of this system include automatic PDF document generation, photo management, a dynamic link to the NEO CANDO property database, data exchange with the finance system, task assignments and scheduling and email ticklers. Modules have been developed to automate data tasks related to pre-acquisition property assessments, demolition specifications, asbestos surveys, proceed orders, property maintenance, land affidavits for tax foreclosure and public website content. These modules have been developed to allow specific access for contractors and other non-staff users. The Property Profile system also generates instant performance metrics related to acquisition, demolition, renovation and disposition operations.

Session C – Tuesday 3:40 – 4:30 p.m.

  1. Demolition A to Z
    The process of demolishing structures (either residential or commercial) requires far more attention to detail than the average community ever thought necessary.  The trifecta of governments will be involved in your work.  From local governments you will need the issuance of water, sewer, and other utility permits or disconnects.  From state and federal government approval on environmental issues such as asbestos and other hazards that must be evaluated and remediated/abated.  In this session we will review everything we have learned from the initial assessment to the guidelines for post demolition site conditions.
  2. Art & Land Reutilization: A Healthy Neighborhoods Approach
    As an innovative approach to neighborhood revitalization, Community Building Partnership of Stark County’s “Art in Neighborhoods” strategy provides a two-pronged approach to revitalization. First, each project engages residents to make a statement about their neighborhood and assist in defining their neighborhood image. Even more importantly, residents begin to have confidence in their neighborhood, investing their time, effort and money on their homes and blocks. CBP has coupled its “Art in Neighborhoods” strategy with its desire to demonstrate effective, healthy land reutilization techniques, with many of the art projects residing on vacant lots.
  3. Land Bank Accounting and Financial Reporting Systems
    This session will detail the set-up of accounting and financial reporting systems for a newly created land reutilization corporation. The presenter will discuss scaling financial systems for future growth, tracking costs of property maintenance and demolition, accounting for grants over multiple years and forecasting cash flow. Other areas relevant to maintain efficient financial records will be covered.

Session D – Wednesday 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

  1. Bank Walk-aways
    As the foreclosure crisis has continued to unfold, and as real estate markets have continued to be hard hit by the blight from abandoned property, many banks have become increasingly aware of the liability they face by taking title to abandoned post-foreclosure property.   This has led to an increase in “bank walk-aways”, where a bank will initiate foreclosure, empty out the home, but then avoid liability for the house by not taking the property at Sheriff Sale.   This conference session will explore this emerging problem and the role that land banks might play in solving it.  We’ll also review creative ideas being considered to deal with this problem, from statewide legislation to action at the local level. Time will be allocated for open discussion and participants will be encouraged to share their personal experiences with this problem.
  2. The Gap between Acquisition and Disposition: Field Services
    Not all land bank acquisitions are ready for the wrecking ball. This session will discuss methods used to rehab properties and increase stability within a neighborhood. Managing a rehab project using local contractors and working with potential owners to establish a rehab plan leading to home ownership will be covered in detail. This session will also address the issue of managing properties while in the hands of the land bank. Homes must be secured, lots must be mowed and properties must be marketed. Procedures used by the Cuyahoga Land Bank will be presented. Participants will learn how to set up programs to address maintenance issues.
  3. Holding Strategies for Vacant Land Inventories
    This session will focus on land stabilization and holding techniques, including alternatives to planting turf grass on vacant lots, in an effort to reduce maintenance costs, improve the appearance of vacant properties, and support the health of urban ecosystems. There are no easy solutions to the challenges of maintaining vacant properties, but there are some emerging best practices, supported by research efforts at the University of Michigan, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Ohio State University, and the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. This session will provide a practical perspective towards vacant land management.

Session E – Wednesday 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

  1. Getting a Land Bank to Really Work For You: Legal and Practical Tips
    Your region is setting up a land bank, and you’re wondering what you will have to think about and do as a city to make sure that you take advantage of what this new entity has to offer. What should a legal agreement between a city and a land bank include? How do you decide who does what? Does this mean a total loss of control for a city? How do you maintain accountability? Will this mean less work or more work for you?
  2. A Port Authority-Managed Land Bank: Leveraging Public Resources to Revitalize Communities.
    The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority is the management company for the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation.  This relationship leverages the tools and resources of both organizations in a coordinated manner, providing expertise in residential and commercial redevelopment, as well as public finance, in order to strategically strengthen neighborhoods.
  3. Land Banks and CDCs – a Perfect Partnership
    Community Development Corporations often provide county land banks with needed support to restore vacant and abandoned properties. This session will detail the evolution of a working relationship between the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation and Trumbull Neighborhood Partners, a model that can maximize the potential of all county land banks in repurposing vacant and abandoned properties in their communities.

Session F – Wednesday 11:10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

  1. The Structure and Government of County-Wide Land Banks in Ohio: Legal Description, Issues and Discussion
    This session will focus on the special purpose nonprofit entities for land reutilization corporations and on the government of those corporations. It will describe what is required in the incorporating documents as well as in the regulations controlling the designation and selection of directors and the powers that a board of directors exercises.
  2. Idora: Creating a Smaller Stronger Neighborhood
    This session will focus on a highly collaborative effort led by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation to stabilize the Idora neighborhood in Youngstown, Ohio. This focused revitalization effort has used the targeted investment of NSP, CDBG, HOME funds to leverage philanthropic, private, and other public funds. The session will describe a range of vacant property strategies and partnerships necessary to achieve success in neighborhood stabilization in a distressed neighborhood. The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s partnership with the Mahoning County Land Bank will be highlighted as a critical strategy for returning vacant properties to productive use.
  3. What to Expect in a Governmental Audit
    This session will define audit terminology regarding internal controls and compliance; highlight applicable audit bulletins and give the participant hints from the audit staff on how to get ready for their financial audits.

Session G – Wednesday 1:30 – 2:20 p.m.

  1. Moving Ohio Forward Program Updates
    The Ohio Attorney General dedicated $75 million dollars of the recent bank settlement for the demolition of vacant and abandoned properties throughout the state.  County land banks serve as the lead entity for administering these funds.  This session will provide land banks, cities and counties with information critical to utilization of these funds and information regarding the reimbursement process.  Sufficient time will be allowed for questions and concerns.
  2. Pittsburgh’s Urban Forest Master Plan: A Road Map for the Effective Management of their Urban Forest
    An Urban Forest Master Plan is a road map, providing detailed information, recommendations and resources needed to effectively and proactively manage and grow a city’s tree canopy. More importantly it provides a shared vision for the future of the urban forest to inspire and engage stakeholders in the care and protection of trees. The project leaders for this effort will provide an overview of the urban forest master planning process, from conception to fundraising to roll out.
  3. Collaboration and Land Bank Projects
    For land banks that seek to become robust in their acquisition pipelines, it will be necessary for land banks to think beyond conventional dispositions – side yards to neighbors, home sales to rehabbers, home sales to potential homeowners. The surplus of distressed properties, and the immediacy of an existing inventory which must be insured, field serviced, maintained, internally tracked requires that land banks begin to think of collaborations with agencies whose mission – though different than land banking – nevertheless intersects with land banking. Collaborating will not only address an immediate substantive need, but will engage other profit and non-profit sectors, promote goodwill and communicate a positive message of community teamwork.
  4. Expedited Tax Foreclosures
    House Bill 294 Introduction: We will review the format and procedures for an expedited foreclosure under the provisions of House Bill 294. A case study of a Board of Revision foreclosure will be used to demonstrate common issues and trends involved in the process.

Session H – Wednesday 2:30 – 3:20 p.m.

  1. Public Perception of Land Banks: Sending the Right Message
    Because you are doing amazing work does not necessarily mean that anyone knows about it or even really understands what you do and if you don’t take the lead on spreading the word about your work, someone else will set the tone for you.  Hatha Communications President Katherine Bulava, who has been working with the Cuyahoga Land Bank on comprehensive communications for more than a year, will discuss creating a message and an image of your organization, generating and taking advantage of press opportunities and using electronic media such as video, websites and social media to create a public perception of your work.
  2. Data Systems for Strategic Planning
    The NEO CANDO system at Case Western Reserve University has been collecting and linking property level information across a variety of city, county and nonprofit silos. The first part of the session will provide a brief overview of the evolution and general use of NST (Neighborhood Stabilization Team) web application, the latest property data tool in the NEO CANDO suite of applications. “The Eye”, a spatial analysis tool built on top of the NST data will be the focus of the second part of the session. Finally, the session concludes with examples of how the Cuyahoga Land Bank utilizes this tool to aid strategic decision making. In one example, NST data are used by the Cuyahoga Land Bank to recommend the best land bank eligible candidates for fast track tax foreclosure.
  3. Title Services: Have it Your Way
    What does your title partner look like? Join us as a 35 year veteran of the title industry looks at several options for choosing the right title partner for your land bank.  We will look at various factors affecting your choices such as volumes, valuations and future plans for acquired properties, as well as what your title partner is looking for in their partners. We will discuss options including single entity as well as joint ventures between land banks and title companies, with a focus on service, cost benefits and risks.
  4. Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps: Growing Youth, Growing Food, Growing Cleveland
    Green Corps transforms vacant lots into vibrant, urban-farming opportunities for teens. In 2012 Green Corps employed 80 teens on 6 urban farms in Cleveland neighborhoods. The Cleveland Botanical Garden has developed research programs to understand the impact of Green Corps on the students’ success at school and workforce development, the impact of the fresh fruits and vegetables on the neighborhoods, and the economic and ecological benefits that repurposing vacant lots as urban farms bring to the community. This presentation will discuss the conversion of vacant properties to urban farms, the structure of a youth work study program, and the research programs resulting from Green Corps and the analysis of economic and ecological services.