This is the story of a small Philly businessman who had a run down lot behind his business. He tried to find out how to buy the lot to clean it up
himself but got the runaround from the city trying to find out who owned it.
Finally, he found city agency in charge and made several requests to have the property cleaned, even offering to take care of the clean-up himself but
got nowhere. The city never came out to clean the lot and even sent him a letter demanding that he not take action to clean it himself.
Finally he got fed up with the City's inaction and took matters into his own hands, spending $20,000 of his own money to have the trash removed and
the land referbished. He took a piece of urban blight and turned it into a place people would be happy to spend time in.
The city is now considering legal action against him for his good deed of course.
Was spruce-up of Point Breeze lot a trespass?
THE CITY-OWNED lot, neighbors say, was in deplorable shape, thick with weeds and trash. So when a business owner cleaned it up last month, spending
more than $20,000 and removing, by his count, more than 40 tons of debris, Point Breeze residents went out of their way to pass 20th and Annin streets
to see the changes.
"This was a lot of garbage," Elaine McGrath said as she took in the carefully tended plantings and wooden benches. "Now it's gorgeous. I'm
But not everyone is happy with the alterations - namely, the lot's owner, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
Paul D. Chrystie, director of communications at the Office of Housing and Community Development, said it's a simple matter of trespassing.
To make matters worse, the city is demanding that he tear down all his improvements and "restore the land to its previous condition". I wonder if
that includes bringing back the 40 tons of trash as well.
Another article goes on to detail how this man attempted to purchase the land in question, only to get the run-around from the city, even though the
Community Development Authority claims he never made an offer for the land.
He said around the time he purchased the property for the coffee shop in 2008, he had tried to buy the vacant lot next door, but he said he was
passed from one city office to another. More than once, he was told by officials that the city did not own the lot.
On four occasions, because some paperwork showed there were "Jersey" barriers surrounding the lot, he was absurdly told he had to contact
authorities in New Jersey.
He said it took him years to get approved to purchase the lot across the street from the coffee shop, where he intends to build single-family homes.
Feibush said if the city allowed it, he would purchase the adjacent lot "at fair market value tomorrow."
Another news source (which I can't find now) even went on to tell of how this business owner had been cited by the city 3 times for not removing snow
on the vacant lot he didn't own and was even cited once for the trash on the lot he just cleaned up.
What I find most maddening about this story is the fact that he has received complaints and resistance from the community for his efforts to clean
things up because they fear his "gentrification" may drive them out of the neighborhood.
"Finally out of frustration, I said, 'I'm going to clean it,' and that's when I rustled every possible feather there," said Feibush, who
previously angered some longtime neighborhood residents who fear that gentrification will push them out.
Seriously, who really doesn't want their own community to be improved, to become a nice place to live and raise a family? Probably drug dealers and
criminals, if you ask me. If his "gentrification" results in their being pushed out of the neighborhood, the city should give him a medal instead of
threatening him with legal action.
What is a man supposed to do when the government refuses to do its job and keep its properties clean and allows them to become a blight upon the
community? Is he supposed to sit back and just allow the blight to spread and hurt his business, or should he take action and fix the problem for
himself after it becomes clear that the government is unwilling or unable to take the actions necessary?
In my opinion, Feibush took the proper course of action; he claimed ownership of the property and fixed it up at his own expense. If the government
can condemn properties and use eminent domain to seize those properties, the people should be able to do the same when the government fails to live up
to its responsibility to take care of those properties.