By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS) — A Philadelphia councilman wants to give city work crews the authority to cut the locks on fenced-in vacant lots that are left in disrepair, so the workers can clean them up.

The Community Life Improvement Program (“CLIP”) is charged with cleaning abandoned lots that are neighborhood eyesores, and then billing the owner. Currently, they have no access to lots that are gated and locked.

Second District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has introduced a measure that would give CLIP the power to clip a lock in order to get in, with the approval of the managing director’s office.

“It gives them the authority to pop the lock,” Johnson said. “They’ll go in, clean up the site, they’ll bill the owner and then put another lock back on and lock the gate back up. Hopefully this will serve as an incentive for slum landlords to get their act together. Because we can’t tolerate these types of negative eyesores.”

Johnson admitted that questions about the legality of the proposal remain to be worked out, but he believes concerns about the lot owners should not take precedence over residents of blighted neighborhoods.

“We’re talking about protecting people’s rights,” said Johnson. “But at the same time, people have the right to live in a clean neighborhood. So because you own four or five lots, and you’re not taking care of those lots, you’re letting people dump on those lots, why should I live among your filth?”

The proposal, including questions of its legality, will be debated in committee.

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