Neighbors in the vicinity of 49th and Florence streets have been abuzz about the early morning collapse of a long-vacant building's bay window that sent debris crashing the sidewalk. Sources say the building at 722 South 49th Street has a long history of with L&I, but despite numerous complaints, was left to rot throughout the winter.
Our good friends at the West Philly Local have been doing a bang-up job of covering the Cedar Park neighborhood's struggles with an inexplicably blighted area around 51st Street and Baltimore Avenue that has been the focus of considerable government monkey business - a topic we've spilled a considerable amount of ink over ourselves. West Philly Local pointed out today that a spokesperson from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, a government agency that has facilitated said monkey business in the past, was apparently not happy about the attention its conspicuous absence from a recent community meeting about the land had generated. The PRA decided to clear the air in a fairly confusing and unconventional way.
In last week's issue of the City Paper we profiled a seemingly intractable struggle between a resident of Point Breeze and a contractor who was illegally dumping on land owned in part by Claudia Sherrod, the executive director of civic group South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S. In that story, Sherrod struggled to explain why she had been unable to stop a man from operating an illegal dump on her land, or why none of the complaints she said she filed were recorded by L&I or the local police district. Sherrod announced her retirement as leader of the civic group after we went to press but a day before our story hit newsstands.
However, she leaves many unanswered questions in her wake, including a series of questionable real-estate transactions connected to her nonprofit.
The "Reclaiming Vacant Properties" conference, organized by the Center for Community Progress, has assembled hundreds of politicians, planners and code enforcement officials, appropriately, in Philadelphia. Yesterday, after a morning of predictably forceful commentary on tackling blight from Mayor Michael Nutter and other politicians at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the afternoon tracked deeper into practical policy.
The lessons a big city like Philadelphia could take from smaller cities coping with blight, in places like West Virginia and California, were striking.