Residents Gather to Discuss Vacant Lot Concerns and Recommendations

Date: October 28, 2022

On Thursday, October 6th, City of Buffalo residents came together to discuss their experiences with vacant lots. Residents were grouped by neighborhood and spoke about how they used the vacant lots, their concerns, and their visions for the vacant lots.

A few common themes emerged. Many folks talked about the difficulties they’d had trying to purchase vacant lots from the city—most often, the vacant lots directly next to their homes. A Fruit Belt resident explained that due to rising market costs, the City now wanted $10,000 for the vacant lot near their house, which the resident could not afford. Another resident explained they’d been trying to purchase a lot for 40 years without success. Residents would like to see a transparent and streamlined process for lot purchase.

Residents also spoke up about the lack of meaningful input they have when it comes to new developments in their neighborhoods. Developers simply purchase lots from the City and build new projects, regardless of whether neighbors agree with the project or not. Some residents even said they’d work with their neighbors to create neighborhood plans for development. When they sent these plans to the City officials, City planners did not take these plans into consideration. Residents want more of a say in what is built in their neighborhoods.

Attendees also brought up concerns about vacant lot maintenance and land speculation. Some publicly-owned vacant lots and privately-owned vacant lots are not maintained properly, which attracts rodents and illegal dumping. Speculation is also a major concern because it often leads to poor maintenance, and the lots can remain empty for decades. Residents advocated for policies that disincentivize speculation.

The Vacant Lots Taskforce (VLT) hosted this townhall. The VLT is a coalition made up of neighborhood leaders and community groups that are impacted by the City of Buffalo’s vacant lot policy. There are 8,000 publicly-owned vacant lots in the City of Buffalo, mostly located on the East Side. The VLT is working to gather community input, develop policy proposals, and to advocate with the City of Buffalo for these changes to land disposition policies.