This piece from the organization Grounded in Philly provides resources and information for those seeking to gain ownership of a vacant lot that is privately owned and how to deal with unpaid debt left behind by the absent owner. After explaining what liens are, the page moves on to explore the many different types of liens that can be attached to a property. Three of these are related to energy; gas, water/sewer and utilities. For research purposes, the page directs one to the proper channel at City Hall or Phila Courts.phila.gov under the Court of Common Pleas Civil Division Trial Dockets where one can search records by the utility company name such as PGW, or PWD.
This was of interest to me in terms of my research questions around energy poverty leading to displacement or vacant properties. These resources could serve as a useful tool on collecting data on utility liens on vacant properties. There is also an opportunity to view this page through an assemblage lens. In this case, the organization's mission is to empower Philadelphians with the tools, resources, and support they need to secure access to vacant land in their neighborhoods to put it back to productive, community-focused use, like gardens and urban farms. It is interesting to me in terms of the production and reproduction of space and what that means in terms of spatial justice. For example, who is accessing this land? At what cost? and what are the consequences on the land market and gentrification. What caused the land to become vacant in the first place? Most likely it had to do with urban poverty and forced displacement. I am wondering how much energy vulnerability had to do with that.
The Garden Justice Legal Initiative, "Philadelphia Liens and Debt: What You Need to Know Before Acquiring Privately Owned Vacant Lots", contributed by Roya Haider, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 15 May 2020, accessed 10 December 2023. https://energyrights.info/content/philadelphia-liens-and-debt-what-you-need-know-acquiring-privately-owned-vacant-lots