City Council, in a busy session yesterday, approved a new trash fee for businesses, required periodic exterior building inspections for large buildings, and set new environmental standards for city buildings.
Council's new commercial trash fee of $150 met little opposition because it represented a reduction of the $500 fee enacted in the spring as part of the 2010 budget. That fee was supposed to go into effect July 1, but objections from the sticker-shocked business community forced Council to reconsider.
Councilman Frank DiCicco lowered the cost to commercial accounts by expanding the pool of those who would pay the fee: from 15,000 storefront businesses to 47,000 accounts, including all properties except single-family homes, co-ops, or anyone who uses a private trash hauler. The bill was unanimously approved.
The Nutter administration had pushed for the fee to account for the many businesses who received free trash pickup, at a cost to the city of $7 million.
That's not the only new law for city landlords.
Councilmen James F. Kenney and DiCicco gained unanimous approval for their bill requiring inspections every five years for building exteriors, following a series of incidents involving crumbling facades.
Initial inspections are to be completed by June 30, 2011, for buildings six stories or higher built before 1950, with newer buildings to have their first inspections between 2012 and 2015, based on their age. Building owners are responsible for the inspections.
And additionally, new buildings and those that are renovated will have to meet new green building standards under Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown's measure. The bill, also approved unanimously, requires a silver certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the industry standard for green buildings.
DiCicco, whose ban on plastic bags was defeated in Council this year, also introduced a bill to require plastic bag recycling for any store that gives plastic bags to its customers. Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.'s bill for hearings on the safety of SEPTA bridges was passed unanimously.