Has anything changed with the way L&I conducts business in the wake of the Market Street building collapse? Perhaps not surprisingly, no.
In today’s Philadelphia Daily News, Helen Urbinas shares a story of a neighbor who is plagued by an adjoining home that is in danger of collapse. Despite a report from a structural engineer that concludes
“The front wall is bowing out, flashings are loose and falling off of the wall, the downspout is loose and falling. It’s also not properly connected to the wall or connected to city storm pipes. Brick joints are open for water to flow into them”
L&I refuses to act. Instead, its inspectors, who you recall are not structural engineers or even trained in spotting what a building in danger of collapse looks like, have stated that there are no structural issues with the home.
If that is not bad enough we have this gem from L&I spokesperson, Rebecca Swanson,
“It’s [the neighbor’s] responsibility to take care of his property. We enforce the code.”
Right, and enforcing the Code includes getting the Law Department to petition the Court for injunctive relief to have the City make the repairs and then place a lien against the property for the cost or even getting permission from the Court to demolish the property. Apparently, the L&I has done neither.
On a positive note, officials in Harrisburg are apparently not waiting around for the City to change its ways. Rep. Bill Keller of Philadelphia has introduced legislation that would require L&I inspectors to actually be trained in what to look for in structural failures and would include State oversight of L&I officials to make sure they are completing their training.