What we know after looking at 10 years of L & I complaint data

A Department of Health cease order hangs on the window of Jiang Laundromat, one of more than a dozen businesses on Kensington Avenue that were shut down last week after a Licenses and Inspection sweep, on February 21, 2020. (Photo by Erin Blewett)

Last week, city and state agencies closed at least a dozen businesses between the 2700 and 3200 blocks of Kensington Avenue after citing them the same day for violations ranging from exterior area sanitation to insufficient seating. 

According to Karen Guss, the L & I communications director, the buildings were closed during a coordinated inspection in response to complaints from community members to the Nuisance Business Committee about their quality of life. The committee, Guss said, is not a formal government entity, and is comprised of the city’s Department of Health, Law Department, L & I, Police Department, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. 

As of Monday evening, the city could not be reached for comment regarding the number of quality of life complaints, how they were filed, and whether the complaints are public. However, Open Data Philly maintains a database of service requests and complaints filed through L & I — the only of the agencies involved that publishes citizens’ complaint data — and a database of L & I inspections, which are both updated daily. 

We looked at 10 years of complaints filed and inspections completed between February 23, 2010 and February 23, 2020. Here’s what we know after looking at that data.

In the last 10 years, people have filed more L & I complaints in ZIP code 19134 than any other Philly ZIP

Out of more than a half-million complaints filed during the last 10 years, ZIP code 19134 had the most complaints. There were a total of 29,662 complaints filed, which accounted for more than 5% of all complaints filed in Philadelphia during that time.

  • 19134: 29,662 (5.38%)
  • 19143: 29,153 (5.29%)
  • 19132: 28,324 (5.14%)
  • 19140: 27,021 (4.9%)
  • 19124: 26,968 (4.89%)
  • 19146: 22,816 (4.14%)
  • 19121: 22,651 (4.11%)
  • 19139: 22,520 (4.08%)
  • 19149: 20,591 (3.73%)
  • 19144: 19,092 (3.46%)

Nearly 70% of all complaints in 19134 were about residential maintenance, vacant lots and houses, building construction, and issues for the community life improvement program (CLIP)

In ZIP code 19134, complaints related to residential maintenance, vacant lots and houses, building construction, and the community life improvement program (CLIP), which focuses on graffiti removal, trash cleanups, and vacant lot cleanups, accounted for nearly 70% of all complaints filed during this time. 

  • Residential maintenance: 8,591 (29%)
  • Vacant lots and houses: 7,708 (26%)
  • Building construction: 2,541 (8%)
  • CLIP: 2,350 (5%)

There were an average of 8 complaints per day in the 19134 ZIP code during the last 10 years

On average, there were eight complaints filed per day in the 19134 ZIP code during this time period. 

Only 3% of all complaints in the 19134 ZIP code were filed about properties on Kensington Avenue 

Out of the 29,662 complaints filed in 10 years, a total of 986 were filed about properties on Kensington Avenue. 

In the last 10 years, less than 1% of all complaints in 19134 were about nuisance properties

There were a total of 130 nuisance property complaints during this time, beginning in 2010. However, according to Guss, nuisance complaints are not always categorized as nuisance property complaints in the database, and can be categorized differently.

  • 2020: 33 (25%)
  • 2019: 23 (18%)
  • 2018: 24 (18%) 
  • 2017: 17 (13%)
  • 2016: 21 (16%)
  • 2015: 6 (5%)
  • 2014: 2 (2%)
  • 2013: 0 (0%)
  • 2012: 0 (0%)
  • 2011: 0 (0%)
  • 2010: 4 (3%)

During this period, ZIP code 19134 had the second-highest number of nuisance complaints of all Philly ZIPs

Philly ZIP 19134 had 130 nuisance complaints, accounting for more than 8% of all 1,614 nuisance complaints across the city:

  • 19124: 151 (9%)
  • 19134: 130 (8%)
  • 19140: 126 (8%)
  • 19120: 83 (5%)
  • 19143: 80 (5%)

Of the 130 total nuisance complaints in ZIP code 19134, 18% were found to be unsubstantiated

During this time period, 24 of these complaints were marked as either unfounded or unsubstantiated. 

In January, there were two nuisance complaints filed against properties from the 2700 to 3200 blocks of Kensington Avenue

On January 13, one complaint was filed against 2769-71 Kensington Avenue, where Steak N Beer is located, and another was filed against 3163 Kensington Avenue on January 29. 

On February 14, there were 11 complaints about 11 properties on the 2700 and 2800 block of Kensington Avenue

Eleven complaints were filed about the following eleven properties on the 2700 and 2800 block of Kensington Avenue on February 14: 

  • 2749 Kensington Avenue
  • 2764-72 Kensington Avenue
  • 2769-71 Kensington Avenue
  • 2774-76 Kensington Avenue
  • 2775 Kensington Avenue
  • 2779 Kensington Avenue
  • 2803-05 Kensington Avenue
  • 2832 Kensington Avenue
  • 2837 Kensington Avenue
  • 2838 Kensington Avenue
  • 2850 Kensington Avenue

On February 19, there were 13 complaints about 13 properties on Kensington Avenue

Thirteen complaints were filed about the following 13 properties on the 3000 and 3200 block of Kensington Avenue on February 19: 

  • 3056 Kensington Avenue
  • 3074 Kensington Avenue
  • 3101 Kensington Avenue
  • 3111 Kensington Avenue
  • 3125 Kensington Avenue
  • 3129-31 Kensington Avenue
  • 3140 Kensington Avenue
  • 3145 Kensington Avenue
  • 3153 Kensington Avenue
  • 3162-64 Kensington Avenue
  • 3163 Kensington Avenue
  • 3166 Kensington Avenue
  • 3171 Kensington Avenue

A total of 20 properties were inspected between February 18 and 19 and all of them failed their inspections

According to the database, there were 20 properties inspected between February 18 and 19, including: 

  • 2749 Kensington Avenue
  • 2764-72 Kensington Avenue
  • 2774-76 Kensington Avenue
  • 2775 Kensington Avenue
  • 2779 Kensington Avenue
  • 2803-05 Kensington Avenue
  • 2832 Kensington Avenue
  • 2837 Kensington Avenue
  • 2838 Kensington Avenue
  • 2850 Kensington Avenue
  • 3056 Kensington Avenue
  • 3074 Kensington Avenue
  • 3101 Kensington Avenue
  • 3111 Kensington Avenue
  • 3125 Kensington Avenue
  • 3129-31 Kensington Avenue
  • 3140 Kensington Avenue
  • 3145 Kensington Avenue
  • 3153 Kensington Avenue
  • 3171 Kensington Avenue

As of February 23, seven of the inspection cases were closed

The following properties’ inspection cases were closed as of February 23. However, based on how the L & I database works, these properties may or may not have reopened.

  • 2850 Kensington Avenue
  • 3056 Kensington Avenue
  • 3074 Kensington Avenue
  • 3111 Kensington Avenue
  • 3125 Kensington Avenue
  • 3129-31 Kensington Avenue
  • 3153  Kensington Avenue

A majority of the properties listed in the complaints database had no record of L & I nuisance complaints before February 14 

Only seven of the properties investigated by L & I had a nuisance complaint documented before February 14 in the L & I database: 

  • 3163 Kensington Avenue (1/30/20)
  • 2769-71 Kensington Avenue (1/14/20)
  • 3001-11 Kensington Avenue (10/10/19)
  • 3169 Kensington Avenue (2/23/19)
  • 3247 Kensington Avenue (1/4/19)
  • 2929-37 Kensington Avenue (11/2/18)
  • 2802 Kensington Avenue (4/9/16)

This year’s nuisance complaints account for more 25% of all nuisance property complaints in ZIP code 19134

Of the 130 nuisance property complaints in the 19134 ZIP code, 25% of them occurred in 2020. 


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