By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City controller Alan Butkovitz is critical of several city departments for their lack of oversight in connection with construction activity in North Philadelphia, near the Temple University campus.
Butkovitz faults the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections and the Streets Department most, among the five city agencies he cites for lax monitoring and inadequate code enforcement.
“When the city doesn’t take a serious view of enforcement of the codes, they’re actually creating an incentive for bad behavior,” he said today.
The problems include illegal “short-dumping” of construction debris in nearby vacant lots, missing dust screens and air vacuum hoses on construction equipment affecting air quality, and debris runoff polluting neighborhood streets.
“North Philadelphia shouldn’t be dumped on just because it’s a lower-income neighborhood,” Butkovitz said.
Deputy controller John Thomas doesn’t lay the blame on Temple University but says developers and contractors are taking advantage of the demand for low-cost student housing near the campus.
“They may be trying to do things as quickly as possible, as cheaply as possible,” Thomas says of the contractors. “They’re violating the code, so the city has to take a role in monitoring and enforcing the codes.”
Butkovitz says he embraces the revitalization of north-central Philadelphia, but he says the city needs to be more aggressive on quality-of-life issues.