How to combat neighborhood nuisances in East Falls

Chief Assistant District Attorney and East Falls resident Beth Grossman gave a crash course on ways in which residents can report neighborhood nuisances at the East Falls Community Council meeting on Monday night.

Grossman spoke to a crowd of roughly 20 East Falls residents in the basement of East Falls Presbyterian Church about her duties as the chief DA of the city’s Public Nuisance Task Force (PNTF) and about steps residents can take to proactively eliminate neighborhood nuisances such as trash violations, dog waste and “problem renters.”

“I want the PNTF to be a bridge between the community and the government,” said Grossman, a Temple Law graduate who was appointed to the position as head coordinator of the PNTF four years ago by former DA Lynne Abraham.

“The task force is mainly focused on drug and alcohol violations on properties, but it expands to other things affecting your quality of life as a homeowner,” said Grossman, who noted that her unit has only dealt with a “handful” of drug and alcohol cases in East Falls. She stressed that East Falls residents should not feel helpless about other issues, such as litter and noisy tenants, however, as a phone call to the PNTF could provide a simple solution to these problems.

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Several residents at the meeting brought up the issue of young “problem renters” from area universities such as Philadelphia University and St. Joseph’s University. Some of these residents said that they had, in the past, tried calling various city offices to complain about noise and underage drinking to no avail. Grossman said that her office had achieved positive results after responding to similar complaints from Germantown residents who live near La Salle University, and that she hoped East Falls residents would utilize her office’s ability to put pressure on the landlords of these renters.

“The important thing is to always document and always leave the exact address,” said Grossman. “If something is documented, I have no problem with sending a letter with my letterhead to a landlord.”

Other East Falls residents at the meeting raised their concerns about excessive dog waste on public sidewalks near their homes and about litter throughout their neighborhood.

“I can’t prove a case unless there’s a witness,” said Grossman, who said that residents could take pictures or footage of violators in the act and then send the evidence to the PNTF.

“Feel free to reach out to me and call me—this is my community too,” said Grossman, who left residents at the meeting with an informational sheet on how to report nuisance behavior.

“It’s nice to know that there’s someone local and that this is her job,” said Paul Ella, a local resident who attended the meeting.

To reach the Public Nuisance Task Force’s hotline, call 215-686-5858.

For more information, click on this printable informational packet on the PNTF, which includes a list of “nuisance phone numbers” as well as a blank incident report and affidavit. 

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