Philadelphia – Today, Councilmember Anthony Phillips (9th District) introduced legislation revamping how the City enforces nuisance business laws. This bill was drafted in coordination with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Police Department, the Department of Commerce, and the Health Department, all of whom support this legislation.
Councilmember Phillips’ bill updates part of the City Code entitled “Responsible Business Operations,” which was originally developed by his colleague Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District). Most notably, this bill would change the timeframe for when businesses can be designated as a nuisance, subject to a Notice of Intent to Cease Operations. Under existing law, the timeframe for nuisance business designations is 3 violations over 60 days or 7 violations over 12 months. This bill would change the timeframe to 3 violations over 12 months. But for serious violent behaviors (like homicide, murder, aggravated assault, or sexual assault), a business can be subject to a Notice of Intent to Cease Operations after just 1 such violent incident.
This bill would also hold business owners accountable for nuisance behavior regardless of whether the conduct occurred during official operating hours because many incidents occur when businesses are technically operating illegally at night, after hours. And currently, only the Department of Licenses and Inspections is responsible for issuing the Notice of Intent to Cease Operations. Under this bill, either L&I or the Police Department could issue businesses a Notice of Intent to Cease Operations. Finally, this bill would raise the fine from a maximum of $300 for repeat violations to a Class III offense and a maximum of $2,000 for repeat violations.
Regarding this bill, Councilmember Phillips said, “I hope this legislation improves enforcement of existing nuisance business laws, enabling City Departments to more quickly and efficiently shut down bad actor businesses that hurt our neighborhoods. I look forward to seeing this bill through final passage.”
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