Should the Parking Authority Have the Power to Ticket … Everything?

Should the Philadelphia Parking Authority be put on the case?

Should the Philadelphia Parking Authority be put on the case?

Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney wants the Philadelphia Parking Authority to turn its hyper-vigilant gaze on construction sites, littering, illegally closed sidewalks and possibly an array of other commonplace city code violations, reports Ryan Briggs for Philly.com’s Next Mayor project. Writes Briggs:

Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney says, if elected, he wants the Philadelphia Parking Authority to issue even more tickets — in addition to the parking variety for which the army of meter readers are already notorious.

He would like to see the PPA issuing tickets for things like litter and sidewalk violations on behalf of the Streets Department or checking construction and dumpster permits for the Department of Licenses & Inspections.

“We need to extend the ability to other departments…to issue tickets. I would like to do that with the Parking Authority,” he said. “We have people, city employees, out in the neighborhoods. They shouldn’t be working in silos, they shouldn’t be cross purpose to each other — and help each other do their jobs.”

It’s an absolutely fascinating idea. What’s more, it’s an early insight into the way a Mayor Jim Kenney might operate. Read more »

Report: L&I Allowed Uncertified Inspectors to Conduct 600 Inspections in One Week

Image via Google Street View

L&I main office on 11th floor of Municipal Services Building | Image via Google Street View

Questionable goings-on in L&I land again? It depends on whom you ask. According to the Inquirer’s Alfred Lubrano, the Department of Licenses and Inspections allowed nine “inexperienced and uncertified inspectors” to conduct “around 600 inspections of unsafe buildings in a single week last month.” Adding to the murky affair, each of the nine newbies “then recorded their work in L&I’s database under the name of another man, an experienced inspector with the agency.”

Could this be a symptom of the department’s desperate attempt to stay on top in an ocean of bureaucraticfinancial and/or managerial issues? Maybe. But the department already has a less than stellar reputation (even City Controller Alan Butkovitz has critiqued L&I as being neglectful when it comes to inspecting unsafe buildings in a timely manner), so why this now? “This story is built on a host of unnamed speakers, who raise a host of safety and legal issues that are completely without merit,” said Commission Carlton Williams in an email to Property. He went on to explain the process:

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The Brief: Michael Nutter’s “Historic” L&I Investment

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Watchdogs have said for years that Philadelphia’s Licenses & Inspections department is dangerously underfunded.

It was a victim of the recession, enduring cutbacks in staff under Mayor Michael Nutter. During his budget address Thursday, Nutter proposed an additional $5.5 million for the department next fiscal year, which would translate into 43 new employees. By 2018, he said L&I plans to boost its staff by 20 percent.

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Morning Headlines: How Did This Illegal Demolition in Fairmount Happen?

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

News of an illegal demolition having taken place on Poplar Street last spring has emerged, the Inquirer‘s Alfred Lubrano reports:

Little more than a year after a botched demolition triggered a Center City building collapse that killed six, a demolition company took down nearly half a block of buildings in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section without obtaining the required permits, an Inquirer investigation has found.

In addition to not having permits for the demolition of the five Fairmount buildings, Lubrano writes, Ashaw Demolition also razed “a house that had been in a family for four generations.” The owner claims in court documents that Ashaw never informed them of the demolition.

Even more bizzare, though? Lubrano reports the company is on the city’s master demolition list, “an exclusive club of companies called on when the city needs to demolish buildings.”

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Alan Butkovitz on L&I: “No Excuse for Putting Lives at Risk”

Photo Credit: Curtis Blessing

Photo Credit: Curtis Blessing

City Controller Alan Butkovitz has released another report critical of Philadelphia’s Licenses & Inspections department.

The review, “Vacant Properties Creating Neighborhood Nuisances,” (below) says L&I is failing to hold the owners of vacant, dangerous buildings accountable and keeping inaccurate, outdated records.

“There is no excuse for putting lives at risk due to deteriorating and collapsing buildings,” said Butkovitz today at a press conference announcing his findings. “The city cannot wait until another tragic incident happens to stimulate action.” Read more »

Why Building Collapses Might Be More Likely in Winter

Last month’s roof collapse at Lululemon on Walnut Street is sure to have rattled most of us who remember the June 2013 building collapse that left six dead.

Fortunately, only minor injuries were reported and the yoga store has since set up a temporary base elsewhere. However, the question remains: What exactly caused our most recent (at least, according to public knowledge) collapse scare?

Billy Penn’s Anna Orso spoke to Robert Mongeluzzi, an attorney who specializes in collapse cases, who pointed to winter-weather water as the possible culprit: pointed to

Today’s City Reads

Less of this, please.

Less of this, please.

Local: Mayor Nutter creates a board to check on post-building collapse reforms

Politicians looove appointing commissions that issue recommendations. And they often seem to equally love letting those recommendations collect dust on a bookshelf somewhere. Read more »

Morning Headlines: Advisory Commission Sums Up What’s Wrong with L&I

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Months after the botched demolition that left six people killed in the neighboring Salvation Army store, Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order that created the Special Independent Advisory Commission. The group was tasked with studying the ins and outs of the Department of Licenses and Inspections and presenting recommendations for its improvement. Those findings were finally published last week.

SIAC chairman Glenn Corbett and executive director Peter Vaira spoke with Marty Moss-Cane of WHYY’s Radio Times about the commission’s data yesterday in an interview, which you can listen to here. Below, some snippets:

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Panel Recommends L&I Be Split in Two

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

The Inquirer reports this morning that a “blue-ribbon panel” is recommending that the Department of Licenses & Inspections be split into two agencies — one focused on construction, the other on the remaining licenses offered by the existing department.

The report comes a year after demolition on a neighboring building caused the deadly collapse of the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets.
Read more »

For Pete’s Sake Closed by Roof Collapse

for-petes-sake-raise-the-roofFor Pete’s Sake had been in the midst of an expansion recently. The bar at Front and Christian had been working to expand to a second floor. On Tuesday afternoon, the Queen Village bar suffered a partial collapse. Luckily no one was injured, but that doesn’t mean lives weren’t impacted.

This Saturday, August 22nd at 6 p.m., Old Swede’s Church is hosting a fundraiser that will help offset any employee and staff hardship during For Pete’s Sake’s closure. Admission is just a donation and there will be food and drink plus music from Sweetbrier Rose, North Lawrence Midnight Singers and Paul Fejko. 

Roof Collapses at For Pete’s Sake Pub Building [Property]
For Pete’s Sake [Official]

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