By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)--With little fanfare, City Council this past week gave final passage to a package of laws aimed at making demolitions in Philadelphia safer. The legislation was the result of last summer’s Market Street collapse that killed six.
The Market Street collapse prompted a special committee of City Council to examine demolition practices. What they learned was that demolitions of publicly-owned buildings were much more closely regulated than those in the private sector.
Councilman Curtis Jones chaired the committee, “What we realized is that a brick that falls from a building doesn’t care who it hits, whether it’s a public (demolition) job or a private job.”
So Council has now given final approval to five bills that embody more than 70 recommendations of the committee. But Jones stresses that the work is far from over:
“The next leg of this journey is putting our money where our mouth is, by way of empowering the department of Licenses and Inspections to do all of the mandated things in the law. And that’s going to cost us a little bit of money.”
Jones says additional L&I funding would be used to beef up its staff.
“Possible staffing both in the field and in the backrooms to look over things like insurance and public safety plans.”
Among other things, provisions of the five bills:
- establish minimum licensing requirements and a penalty system for safety monitors on site at demolitions
- require L&I to create regulations for the posting of notices and signage at demolition sites so that the public is aware of hazards and how to report perceived problems
- require OSHA training and annual continuing education on code violations. Still be determined is what entity would provide the training, and how it would be funded.
Some of the changes place into the city code new standards already imposed by Mayor Nutter through executive order shortly after the incident. In addition to Council’s legislation, the June 5th collapse on Market Street, which killed six, resulted in a grand jury probe and an OSHA investigation.