After Diane Richardson, President of the FBPA (Frankford Business and Professional Association) brought the June 22nd meeting to order and asked everyone to introduce themselves, she introduced Mr. Harold Epps, Director, City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce who visited the Frankford CDC and had a walking tour of parts of the Frankford Avenue corridor and Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez.
Epps made brief remarks about his experience visiting Frankford and assured the group that this will not be the last time he visits Frankford and he will be following-‐up on the progress and the goals met.
Diane introduced Mr. Stephen Briggs of Wells Fargo who explained Wells Fargo’s interest in the Frankford CDC’s current projects in Frankford. Mr. Briggs presented Kimberly Washington, Executive Director, Frankford CDC with a $5,000 check from Wells Fargo.
Allison Merrick, Community & Economic Development from Philadelphia VIP made a brief presentation on Philadelphia VIP. Philadelphia VIP offers free legal advice to Philadelphia residents who meet their income guidelines. Volunteer attorneys provide clients with legal advice/representation in a variety of issues. They assist small business owners and entrepreneurs with various issues which include deciding/applying to be an LLC, employment law and employee guidelines, contract negotiations, landlord & tenant issues. For more information on Philadelphia VIP, visit: www.phillyvip.org
Officer Matthew Crosson, Community Relations Officer, 15th Police District reported that the district has begun to deploy the bike task force. There are currently 14 bicycle officers and a lieutenant that patrol the area between the Frankford and Torresdale communities. There are also 3 patrol cars that are patrolling Frankford Avenue. The Police Department has experienced a decrease in applicants and they have changed the requirements to apply. You can apply to the Police Academy with only a high school diploma and you can be up to 39 years of age.
Ralph DiPietro, Deputy Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses & Inspections who took questions about L&I and their procedures. DiPietro explained there are various divisions that comprise L&I which include: permits & certificates, zoning and codes & regulations. He addressed the issue of grocery stores that sell shots of liquor. The issue with a grocery store that sells shots is a zoning issue. There is nothing in the L&I code that states there is a specific kind of food to be sold and specific hours to operate. Businesses can sell any kind of food and operate any kind of schedule they would like. The liquor issue is a state level issue that L&I has no discretion over.
Diane asked about the issues with boarding homes. There are several boarding homes/halfway houses located in Frankford that house several people. Commissioner DiPierto explained this is an issue with rental licenses. People can apply for a rental license and there is no limit to how many people can reside in the property. When L&I tries to visit a property in question, usually they don’t allow them to enter the property for fear of being evicted, etc. and L&I can’t move forward or resolve the issue.
The L&I Supervisor in the north division is putting together a program/database of complaints and warrants so courts can reference it if there are any complaints. Diane stated there are about 120 unlicensed boarding homes in Frankford. Officer Crosson asked about abandoned properties and people who are sold fake leases and occupy an unsafe environment.
Commissioner DiPietro explained that fraudulent leases are a crime and the District Attorney’s Office can resolve the issue. If the person has a fake rental lease, you can make a complaint with L&I and they can seal the property.
Ellie Devyatkin, Commercial Corridor Manager, Frankford CDC announced that the market study draft has been released by Urban Partners. The report addresses the need for supermarkets and retail spaces on Frankford Avenue.
Ileana Garcia announced that the Frankford CDC, State Representative Dawkins and Councilwoman Sanchez will be hosting the 2nd Annual Frankford Community Day on 8/13 at Gambrel Recreation Center from 11 AM to 3PM.
The next FBPA General Body Meeting will be in September or October on a date and time to be announced.