Northeast Times

Boyle strives to improve neglected properties in Northeast

A Marsden Street res­id­ent tells State Rep. Kev­in Boyle and 15th Dis­trict Cap­tain Frank Bach­may­er and com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer Shar­on Krause about the theft of a bi­cycle from her porch dur­ing a tour of neigh­bor­hood blocks on June 9.

When Kev­in Boyle cam­paigned last year in the 172nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict, his top is­sues in­cluded neg­li­gent, out-of-town prop­erty own­ers.

Boyle, a Demo­crat, won that race, and his of­fice has been in com­mu­nic­a­tion on the sub­ject with the city De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions and man­aging dir­ect­or’s of­fice since Janu­ary.

Boyle last week wel­comed of­fi­cials from both of­fices, along with the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict, for a walk-through of some prop­er­ties in Ta­cony that have been cited by the city’s Com­munity Life Im­prove­ment Pro­gram.

Eight houses on the 6300, 6400 and 6500 blocks of Marsden streets — which are ac­tu­ally loc­ated in the dis­trict of state Rep. Mike McGee­han (D-173rd dist.) — have been writ­ten up by CLIP for over­growth, trash and fence is­sues since May 10.

Such un­kempt prop­er­ties have harmed neigh­bor­hoods such as Wissi­nom­ing, Ta­cony, Frank­ford, Lawndale, Cres­centville and part of May­fair, Boyle said, but en­force­ment by city agen­cies can be ef­fect­ive in keep­ing the prob­lem from fes­ter­ing and spread­ing.

“We have a real crisis in North­east Phil­adelphia,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of good people move out of the North­east.”

In ad­di­tion to chas­ing good people out of the North­east, nuis­ance prop­er­ties can lead to crim­in­al activ­ity, Boyle be­lieves.

“That’s what we’re fight­ing against,” he said.

Capt. Frank Bach­may­er, com­mand­er of the 15th dis­trict, said loud mu­sic, party­ing, dis­orderly crowds, drugs and pros­ti­tu­tion of­ten are tied to un­sightly prop­er­ties.

“It’s a con­cern I have to deal with every day,” said Bach­may­er, who was joined at the June 9 event by com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer Shar­on Krause.

There were some pos­it­ive signs along the route. Many Marsden Street res­id­ents keep their ex­ter­i­or prop­er­ties nice, and some nearby streets — such as the 4500 block of Magee Ave. and the 6600 block of Dit­man St. — are gen­er­ally free of vis­ible prob­lems.

While Cen­ter City is grow­ing, Boyle be­lieves more fo­cus is needed on oth­er neigh­bor­hoods, and he ex­pects Bobby Hen­on to push such an agenda. Boyle backs Hen­on, a Demo­crat who faces Re­pub­lic­an Sandra Stew­art in the 6th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict race.

The own­er/rent­al mix in parts of the North­east is not healthy, in Boyle’s opin­ion. An es­tim­ated 60 per­cent of the homes on the 6400 block of Marsden St. are rent­als.

“That was not the case five, ten, fif­teen years ago. It was a stable neigh­bor­hood,” he said.

Maura Kennedy, L&I’s dir­ect­or of stra­tegic ini­ti­at­ives, said her de­part­ment’s in­spect­ors know there is a prob­lem with some ab­sent­ee land­lords.

“We’re try­ing to hold own­ers ac­count­able,” she said.

Spe­cific­ally, Kennedy said L&I’s first job is to identi­fy and loc­ate own­ers. It’s an ag­gress­ive ap­proach, us­ing the same data base util­ized by the IRS.

The courts have ded­ic­ated cer­tain days to handle in­frac­tions. L&I be­lieves leg­al tools can be suc­cess­ful. For in­stance, the own­ers of prop­er­ties can be fined up to $300 per day for each door and win­dow that does not close prop­erly.

“That can add up tre­mend­ously,” said Kennedy, who was ac­com­pan­ied for a very brief time by Fran Burns, the L&I com­mis­sion­er.

As for the prob­lem of aban­doned prop­er­ties, Deputy Man­aging Dir­ect­or Brid­get Collins-Gre­en­wald said May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter has em­powered the man­aging dir­ect­or’s of­fice and the De­part­ment of Fin­ance to de­vel­op an ap­proach that in­cludes a cent­ral agency for in­vent­ory, L&I en­force­ment, the con­ver­sion of pub­lic land to private own­er­ship and tar­geted ac­quis­i­tions.

“I think you will see some ex­cit­ing things hap­pen in the next few months,” he said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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