City Bill Would Crack Down on Nuisance Businesses

Neighborhood organizations would get more clout in the process.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

City Hall would gain new powers in cracking down on “nuisance” businesses under a new bill proposed by Councilwoman Cindy Bass — and neighborhood groups would be given a formal say in determining the future of businesses that run afoul of the law.

The bill would mandate that the commercial activity license of a business be revoked if it receives three nuisance citations in 60 days, or seven such citations during the course of any 12-month period. To re-obtain the license, the business owner would be required to meet with the “registered community organization” for the neighborhood — or, in the absence of a functioning neighborhood group, meet with the City Council member representing the district. Registered community organizations already are called on to weigh in on zoning applications; this bill would increase their clout. (The city’s complete list of RCOs is here.)

Bass said the idea is to push businesses to crack down on problems before they require city intervention.

“If businesses are proactive in deterring nuisance behavior in and around their premises, I am confident that we will see an improvement to the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Bass said in a written statement on the proposed law.

Business owners would be held responsible for nuisances on or near their properties. Nuisance behaviors would include excessive noise, illegal consumption of alcoholic beverages, illegal drug activity, unlawful street or sidewalk obstruction, gambling, loitering, public urination, and littering.

Selling the business won’t undo the penalties. Under the bill, any new purchaser of a property where the license was suspended would also be required to meet the neighborhood groups.

“Just like shoveling your walk after a snowstorm, otherwise you get fined, this bill is about being a good neighbor and community member,” says an FAQ on the bill being distributed by Bass’s office. (See the document below.)

The Philadelphia Tavern Owners Association did not respond to requests for comment.

The bill has been referred to Council’s Committee on Licenses and Inspections. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.