Friday, August 1, 2014
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L&I on a rampage, eliminating its backlog of cleaning and sealing run-down properties

L&I on a rampage, eliminating its backlog of cleaning and sealing run-down properties

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No one has lived at 1446 N. Conestoga in West Philly for a decade or so. City taxes on it have gone unpaid for 15 years. Photo by Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel, Inquirer

In good L&I news, commissioner Frances Burns announced today that her department has eliminated its backlog of cleaning and sealing run-down properties. In the past, it took the department a woeful 8 months to get the job done. Now, Burns says, such buildings are cleaned and sealed within 10 days of L&I receiving a complaint.

The impact is profound. Last fiscal year, L&I cleaned and sealed 952 buildings. This year the number is up by 1329.

The boost is in large part to $420,000 federal stimulus dollars, which enabled L&I to hire 12 temporary clean-and-seal workers.

When a house becomes an eyesore, or a crumbling danger to those around it, and the owner fails to take action, L&I's clean-and-seal unit boards up the property.

"A majority of our clean and seals originate with a citizen complaint," says Burns, "and I encourage any resident who believes that a structure is causing a problem in their neighborhood to call 311. We will send someone out to investigate the issue and take appropriate action."

The department then bills the owner for the trouble, which for cleaning-and-sealing typically costs $1,000. If there is no payment within 30 days, L&I places a lien on the property.

Now, if only the property can get rehabbed.

Read about one West Philadelphia neighborhood's battle with a long-abandoned house.

About this blog

Kia Gregory is a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She's a proud native of the city and an alumna of Temple University. Contact Kia by e-mail by clicking here, or by phone at 215-854-2601.


Vernon Clark, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has reported extensively neighborhood issues in North and Northwest Philadelphia. Vernon has also been an editor for the Inquirer and has worked as an editor and writer at the Boston Globe and Akron Beacon Journal. Contact Vernon by e-mail by clicking here, or by phone at 215-854-5717.

Kia Gregory & Vernon Clark
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