Philly Councilman proposes blight-fighting tool

    It’s bad enough that about 40,000 properties lie vacant in Philadelphia. But some of those empty lots are also piled high with garbage. 

    City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson wants to give municipal workers another tool to clean up the properties, many of which are locked up behind fences. He introduced a bill Thursday that would enable the city’s Community Life Improvement Program to cut through such locks in order to remove trash.

    The city could then charge the owner for the lot’s cleanup.

    “Hopefully this will serve as an incentive for slum landowners to get their act together,” Johnson said. “People have a right to live in a clean neighborhood.”

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    Johnson admitted that the city’s law department has questions about whether his idea is legally feasible.

    “We don’t want to take anyone’s rights away,” he said. “But at the end of the day, my primary purpose is to make sure that the people I represent can live in a clean community.”

    Johnson hopes that any legal issues can be addressed in the weeks ahead.

    Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter, said the administration will comment on Johnson’s proposal when and if a hearing is scheduled.

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