Licenses and Inspections to fight blight

Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections is launching a new pilot program Monday to go after owners of blighted properties.

In L&I’s stepped up attack on negligent owners, Licenses & Inspections Commissioner Fran Burns said owners of blighted properties will be sent violation notices along with a letter threatening fines and legal action.

“They’ll receive a notice of violation which will specifically reference the property maintenance code and what they need to fix,” said Burns.  “If you own a vacant property and that vacant property is on a block that is 80% occupied, there is a section in the property maintence code that requires you to put windows and doors in your property.”

Burns said the pilot is targeting property owners in Northeast Philadelphia, as well as one who owns 78 vacant sites citywide.

Claudia Smith Sherrod, of the Point Breeze Community Development Coalition, said the move is long overdue.

“I think it’s excellent,” said Sherrod.  “I think it’s about time they start doing their job.”

Sherrod said many of the city’s poor residents share her neighborhood’s struggle with blight.

“Blighted properties encourages crime, people to hang on corners – and the bad people not the good people.  We have for instance a lot of the corner of 22nd and Federal and people will automatically think that’s a dumping ground.  They dump trash there, continuously,” she said.

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