Butkovitz Blasts North Philly Developers

City Controller Alan Butkovitz released a report today blasting developers in North Philadelphia, near Temple University's campus, for a variety of sins, including illegal dumping of construction debris, closing streets without a permit and allowing dust and runoff to pollute the neighborhood.

Butkovitz said five city agencies - Licenses and Inspections, the Water Department, Streets, Public Health and the police - failed to properly monitor and enforce the city's rules for construction sites. He said the under-staffed departments often didn't understand which was supposed to police certain activities.

He said investigators from his office visited 19 sites this spring and summer, many of them residential projects for Temple students between Girard Avenue and West York Street, and Broad Street and North 19th Street.

The review, Butkovitz said, was spurred by repeated complaints from residents, who felt "powerless" against developers churning out housing in the hot real estate market around Temple's campus.

"We need to embrace revitalization, but we also need to ensure current residents aren't trampled in the process," the controller said.

Butkovitz recommended the city create a Memorandum of Understanding among the five city agencies to provide guidance and authority for any inspector to address building code violations. He also urged the city to develop a mobile app that would allow any of the departments' employees to collect pictures and videos of violations and deposit them into a central location where each department could review the evidence.

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