Private demolition isn’t the city’s responsibility, officials say

Remnants of the building collapse at the corner of 22nd and Market Streets. Charles Mostoller/METRO.
Remnants of the building collapse at the corner of 22nd and Market Streets. Charles Mostoller/METRO.

After it issues the permit, the city washes its hands, officials said.

According to Everett Gillison, Mayor Michael Nutter’s chief of staff, the city is not accountable for demolition on a private construction site once the department of Licenses and Inspections issues a permit, he said yesterday.

Gillison, along with L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, testified during the first of five hearings of an investigation committee charged with evaluating the fatal building collapse at 22nd and Market on June 5 that left six people dead.

Gillion said private demolition work is not held to the same standards as city-demolition projects.

When Councilman Jim Kenney asked Williams why guidelines aren’t the same for both, Williams said, “It’s the responsibility of the contractor.”

Gillison said the contractor is on the hook for its own construction.

“Just because we give someone a permit does not make us responsible,” he said.

Kenney asked if demolition commissioners should be expected to have more advanced training than just passing a civil service test.

Williams said he thought the current process worked just fine.

Gillison said the two could not offer too much informaton due to pending criminal investigation and litigation.

The site at 22nd and Market was inspected twice in February and a third time in May after a resident submitted a complaint. The complaint was deemed unfounded.

Committee head Councilman Curtis Jones said it’s important for the committee to not assign blame, but to develop standards to prevent future catastrophes.


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