February 12, 2015
A Philadelphia's City Controller's Office report called on the Department of Licenses and Inspections to make changes after it found more than 1,000 vacant properties with at least one violation and deemed 101 properties unsafe, imminently dangerous or hazardous.
The City Controller's Office conducted a review of "Vacant Properties Creating Neighborhood Nuisances" after an NBC10 inquiry, according to the report. The report was conducted to develop data to "eradicate dangerous properties and to fight blight."
Of the more than 5,700 privately owned properties listed as having vacant property licenses issued in 2013 and 2014, the report said 1,215 vacant properties had violations and 791 of those had violations that were still considered open. The report said those 791 properties had a total of 2,283 violations.
The report suggested that L&I better prioritize its functions so as to not "jeopardize public safety."
City Controller Alan Butkovitz said that the report's findings are concerning, NewsWorks reported."If they do not enforce basic safety requirements on building construction and demolition, people die. And in case we didn't know that, we know it now, everybody in the city knows it now after 22nd and Market Street," said Butkovitz, referencing the Center City building collapse of 2013.
In 2014, the planned demolition of a building in Old City turned into a partial collapse, and this January, part of the roof at the Lululemon store in Center City collapsed after bricks from an adjacent building fell on it.
Butkovitz suggested L&I add 100 more workers to its staff of 56 and raise vacant property license renewal fees up to $1,000 for those with outstanding violations, NewsWorks reported.