A blue-ribbon commission formed by Mayor Michael Nutter following the deadly Market Street building collapse launched a website Monday to solicit public feedback on Philadelphia's Department of Licenses & Inspections.
The 14-member special independent advisory commission is investigating L&I practices with emphasis on learning what specific changes need to be made within the department to improve demolition procedures and prevent future collapse disasters from occurring.
Executive Director of the Commission Peter Vaira said information submitted through the website will be helpful to the commission's investigation goals.
"Feedback from those with knowledge of L&I practices, including anonymous feedback, is the next critical step as we begin to formulate constructive strategies to improving building safety and demolition standards in Philadelphia," Vaira said.
Mayor Nutter signed an Executive Order to establish the committee of expert lawyers, building engineers, professors and city employees in October.
The panel was formed after prompting from City Treasurer Nancy Winkler and husband Jay Bryan. Their daughter, Anne Bryan, was one of six people killed in the June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market Street. Thirteen others were injured when the 4-story building next door, which was being demolished, collapsed on top of the Salvation Army Thrift store.
"We just believe that this should have never had happened," Winkler said in Sept. "Our main objective is to ensure that no other parents have to go through what we're going through."
Members of the public are now invited to submit questions, comments and concerns about L&I through the website, or by calling its newly created tip hotline.
The public is also encouraged to submit information anonymously. For anonymous tips, a commission member will meet the person for a private interview at an agreed upon location.
The commission will no longer be allowing office visits, but face-to-face meetings can be requested via phone or online submission. Calls to the hotline at (215) 735-6760 and email requests will be accepted 24/7, now through Aug. 1, when the public comment period will end.
The commission is being chaired by fire science professor at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Glenn Corbett.
“We need this public input, whether it’s by email, phone or stopping by our office to see us, to help us determine whether the overall experience with L&I is good or bad,” Corbett said in a press release.
“Mayor Nutter has given us the authority to act completely independently in issuing our report. The bottom line of all this work is public safety.”
The commission initially hoped to provide a formal report of the investigation findings and recommednations to Mayor Nutter by July. That deadline has since been pushed back to mid-September.
Winkler said she supports the commission's process and is looking forward to seeing the report.