Philadelphia, January 6, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the official formation of the Building Safety Oversight Board, which will make decisions about immediate and long-term actions necessary for the City of Philadelphia to implement recommendations made in the report issued by the Mayor’s Special Independent Advisory Commission, “Safety First and Foremost”. The Commission was created by Mayor Nutter in November 2013, in response to the tragic building collapse at 22nd & Market Streets on June 5, 2013 that killed six people, and was charged with reviewing and evaluating the City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L &I).
In October 2014, the Commission released its report with 37 recommendations to change in fundamental ways the operations of L&I. One recommendation called for the creation of an ‘oversight board’ to ensure the recommendations critical to public safety were thoroughly vetted and implemented. Upon receipt of the “Safety First and Foremost” report, Mayor Nutter announced that he would create an oversight board, now to be known as the Building Safety Oversight Board.
“After the collapse at 22nd & Market Streets, I vowed that we as a City would do all we could to prevent these tragedies in the future,” said Mayor Nutter. “The formation of the Building Safety Oversight Board is one step in a deliberate, structured plan to bring meaningful operational changes, which will ensure that public safety is paramount in everything L&I does. After the Commission made its recommendations, I knew that the City needed a thorough analysis of every recommendation in the report. The Board is now bringing us one step closer to implementing the recommendations in a thoughtful, responsible way.”
The Building Safety Oversight Board, which will work with L&I to monitor the progress of implementation throughout the remainder of the Mayor’s administration, is chaired by Michael Nadol, Managing Director at Public Financial Management. The other members are Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez; Ann Marie Ambrose, former Commissioner of the Department of Human Services and now the Senior Director for Leadership Development and System Engagement at Casey Family Programs; Ned Dunham, Of Counsel and member of the Litigation Department at Kleinbard LLC who served as Chief of Staff to the Special Independent Advisory Commission; Angelo Perryman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Perryman Building and Construction Services, Inc.; and Wendell Pritchett, Interim Dean and Presidential Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Supporting the Board is an internal City working group, which has been focused in content-specific sub-committees that are carefully reviewing each of the report’s recommendations in terms of the legislative, fiscal, and administrative impacts upon the City. Sub-committees were created according to the Commission’s recommendations and will focus on demolition, fire safety, vacant property, information technology, staffing and training, legal and financial controls.
Many of the report’s recommendations have already been approved and completed. Those recommendations are: the formation of an ‘oversight board’ (the Building Safety Oversight Board) and a ‘steering committee’ (the internal City working group with sub-committees); background investigations for demolition companies; the creation of new demolition site safety positions; verification of all representations made by applicants for demolition permits; signatures from property owners form all applicants for demolition permits; requirement of a detailed safety plan, identification and signature from the responsible architect or engineer on a project; and reports of potentially unsafe conditions resolved by a site visit by a qualified inspector.
The Building Safety Oversight Board will forward its’ opinions on the report’s recommendations to the Mayor for final approval. The Board’s work product and conclusions, which will be entitled “Licenses and Inspections 2015 Plan for a Safer City”, will be made available for public review.
The purpose of the Board’s report is to translate goals into action items and timelines for implementation and evaluation. The implementation progress for each recommendation will be presented during public L&I PhillyStat briefings.
The Board will continue to meet until all approved recommendations are fully implemented. Once the implementation process is completed, the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety will be responsible for establishing an annual performance review and evaluation process to monitor L&I’s progress.