Morning Headlines: City Has Higher Standards for Its Own Demolition Projects

Philadelphia City Council’s special committee to investigate the building collapse at 22nd and Market has released its findings this morning — and it ain’t pretty. The Special Investigating Committee on Demolition Practices’ report can be read cynically or pragmatically, but reading it in the former fashion might lead one to believe the city cares less about its citizens than covering its collective governmental behind. From CBS Philly:

The 70-page report from City Council’s makes clear that the city imposes higher standards on its own demolitions than those carried out by contractors on privately owned buildings.  For example, contractors demolishing public buildings must submit a criminal background check and provide evidence of competency and experience.

We’ve written before about the lax requirements for becoming a demolition contractor for private jobs, but to seem them in contrast with city requirements is offensive and discouraging.

L&I demolition permits for privately owned buildings request no information about the competency or experience of the contractor.  Public building demolitions must have engineering surveys and site safety plans; no such documents are needed for private sector demolitions.

While things have improved somewhat now that six people have died, the committee has some recommendations to make things even better. Some of them are seem rather obvious in hindsight. We’ve bolded those recommendations that seem especially intuitive, along the lines of: Seriously? That wasn’t already in place? 
  • Requiring an engineering survey “by a competent person” for buildings three or fewer stories in height.
  • Requiring an engineering survey by a licensed engineer who is registered with L&I for buildings taller than three stories.
  • Requiring a site-specific safety plan be submitted with each demolition permit application which would include precautions for a demolition impact zone “measured by the collapse or fall zone for full external demolitions.”
  • Require that all applications include a physical address for contractors; a PO box would not be sufficient.
  • Require that the property owner and the contractor of a private demolition sign all permits. This will ensure that so-called third-party “expeditors” cannot be the ones obtaining the permits, as was the case in the Market Street collapse.
  • Establish a registration system for all site safety managers, showing evidence of completion of OSHA training.
  • Require that signage at construction and demolition sites include the contractor’s name, address, and telephone number, and instructions on how to convey complaints to the city.

Philadelphia Lawmakers Call For Broad Changes In Demolition Practices [CBS Philly]

And there’s more…

• “Philadelphians’ view of the city itself is also in the tank, according to a poll released yesterday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.” [philly.com]
Johnny Brenda’s turns 10, and so does Fishtown? [Hidden City]
USciences wraps construction on its $26M healthcare education building [Technically Philly]
• “The Lord is out and Dunkin’ Donuts will be in this spring at 40th & Sansom” [Naked Philly]

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