Rats! Philly City Council tackles a gnawing rodent problem

During Thursday’s weekly City Council session, Councilmember Cindy Bass, D-8th District, introduced legislation to help cut the number of rats in construction areas

By: - November 6, 2021 6:30 am

(Getty Images)

By Brian Saunders

Rat infestation in Philadelphia has become a problem, especially in areas where property developments and demolitions occur.

During Thursday’s weekly City Council session, Councilmember Cindy Bass, D-8th District, introduced legislation to help cut the number of rats in construction areas.

Bass, who is the chair for council’s Public Health Committee, is working to make it a requirement that before the demolition of a property, or the start of construction on existing or new property, the owner has to inspect the property for rats and adequately treat the land for rats. Then — at a bare minimum — a licensed pest control company is required to treat the area.

“Site owners need to be held accountable, and that’s what this bill is meant to do. Our residents shouldn’t have to fear rodents from building sites intruding on their personal space or the neighborhood,” Bass said. “This has been a public safety and health concern, and I’m glad to see steps being taken in the right direction.”

“We’re hearing with increasing frequency from homeowners complaining that rats are materializing whenever there are property demolitions or excavations or new developments in their neighborhoods,” Council President Darrell Clarke said. “It isn’t right that homeowners get subjected to this public health problem through no fault of their own. It’s only fair that property developers have a rat abatement plan in place to deal with this nuisance problem before it gets any worse.”

As apartment buildings are constructed and old businesses are rehabbed, the vermin problem has become prevalent in several areas throughout the city.

The legislation would authorize the city’s departments of Public Health and Licenses and Inspections to issue regulations implementing and enforcing the law.

Owners of vacant lots would also be required to have annual inspections and rat control done by licensed pest control companies.

In other business, City Council approved a budget ordinance to allocate $500,000 toward safely relocating Philadelphia residents who have been threatened by criminal activity in their neighborhoods.

As previously reported, Councilmember at-large David Oh has met with nine mothers in the city whose families have been violently targeted and harassed after their children cooperated in criminal investigations.

“We must protect our mothers and children from being victims of retaliation,” Oh said. “This action will save lives, protect other families and encourage cooperation with law enforcement to help reduce this senseless cycle of violence in our city.”

The Appropriations chair, Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez, D-7th District, introduced the funding appropriation Thursday.

“It is urgent that we establish a mechanism to have a trusted system of relocation in place to protect families that are cooperating with our public safety officials,” she said.

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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