Doorways, Windows to Responsibility

An Editorial from the “Times Tribune”

Plywood sheets are not windows or doors, but portals to contagious blight. That’s why Scranton and other communities in Northeast Pennsylvania should emulate a Philadelphia ordinance to fight that blight, which was upheld unanimously Sept. 13 by the state Supreme Court.

Philadelphia adopted a “doors and windows” ordinance in 2011, requiring owners of all properties on any block with at least 80 percent occupancy to maintain operating windows and doors. City inspectors were empowered to issue fines of $300 per day for each open or boarded-up window or door.

A local judge voided the ordinance in 2015 on grounds that the city could regulate relative only to public health and safety rather than to aesthetics, and that boarding up vacant properties serves public safety by preventing entry.

In four years of enforcement prior to the 2015 decision, the city forced owners to install functioning windows and doors on 1,284 properties.

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