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New Effort Underway To Clean Up Blighted Neighborhoods In Philadelphia

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Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–There are thousands of vacant properties across the city.  One city lawmaker wants to compile them into one list and increase inspections on each, despite one city agency saying that’s already being done.

Freddy Cuevas has lived on this block in the city for most of his life, and for decades the building at 5th and Master has sat vacant.

“It’s an eye sore. Brings my property value down.”

That building is joined by thousands of other vacant properties city-wide, and tomorrow, Councilman Denny O’Brien will introduce legislation that would create a vacant property task force. The team would comprise of members from every city agency and would meet weekly until every property is accounted for and listed online in a public database.

“I think cataloging them is a good place to start as long as they make it open and transparent.”

Sandy Salzman has overseen several redevelopment projects. She says knowing where vacant properties are is key to redevelopment.

“You have properties that are not the same value and so people aren’t as willing to take risk.”

The bill would also create inspector team, with members of L and I and the fire department inspecting all vacant properties on a monthly basis.

Joe Schulle, Local 22 president says, “Having it in law will require L and I and the fire department to have the resources to make sure this gets done.”

Back in April 2012, two firefighters died when a burning vacant property collapsed after lapses in inspections, according to a federal report. But whether they are commercial or residential, vacant buildings continue to pose a danger.

Eyewitness News spoke with an L and I official not long ago, and she said that they have already identified every vacant property in the city and will be done inspecting all of them by the middle of this year.

So the question becomes, is Councilman O’Brien’s bill overlapping what’s already being done?

It’s something to follow up with tomorrow when the bill gets introduced at city council.

 

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