Target: Mr. Paul Chrystie, Director of Communications for Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development
Goal: Prevent legal action against business owner who cleaned up vacant city lot
A vacant lot in Point Breeze, Pennsylvania, was overgrown by weeds, broken bottles, and trash and was a constant eyesore. Business owner, Ori Feibush, used $20,000 of his own funds to clean up the area. Now, Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development wants it returned to its original state and is threatening to sue him. Stop this housing agency from ordering Mr. Feibush to return the lot to its original state or from taking legal action against him.
Philadelphia is a beautiful city, with both modern and historic architectural styles. It is a place of history, where the Independence Hall building and famous Liberty Bell are located. Yet, a weed-infested and trash-strewn vacant lot in town negatively impacted the community and desperately needed to be cleaned up. Located near Mr. Ori Feibush’s coffee shop, he had made repeated requests to the city to clean it up and was told each time that it would be.
Frustrated by its lack of action, Mr. Feibush cleared out the trash and broken bottles and beautified the lot by adding an outdoor wooden bench and picnic table, some greenery, and a new sidewalk. The city disapproved of his actions and mailed a letter requesting that the lot be returned to its original state, and also threatened to take legal action against him.
The city that had neglected this lot for years is now arguing that Mr. Feibush has increased taxpayer liability by cleaning up the lot, but this appears to hold little weight. The trash-strewn lot with broken glass and overgrown weeds, which sometimes “housed” the homeless, seemed much more of a taxpayer liability than Mr. Feibush’s renovated lot with trees, a new sidewalk and no more trash.
If the city does sue, this will probably result in a huge legal bill that the taxpayer will have to pay. Besides a wasted expenditure from a lawsuit, the city will also waste precious time and additional resources that could be better spent on worthwhile projects. Hunting down a private citizen who used his own money to improve a community seems beyond petty and unreasonable.
If Mr. Feibush did go against the housing authorities or break any laws, a reprimand or warning would suffice. He probably saved the taxpayer and city both time and money by taking on this project himself. A thank you seems more in order than a punishment. Please sign the petition below urging Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development to thank Mr. Feibush and not punish him.
Dear Paul Chrystie,
Philadelphia is a great place to work and live, and has visitors coming in from all over the world every year. A vacant lot in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood was a litter-strewn eyesore that business owner Mr. Ori Feibush cleaned up using his own money. Please reconsider your stated intent to possibly pursue legal action against him and peacefully resolve this issue with Mr. Ori Feibush, who obviously cares about his neighborhood.
Since removing 40 tons of trash and renovating the space by adding an outdoor wooden table and bench, some cherry trees, and a nice simple fence, it is now a lovely space for locals to hang out at. Instead of thanking Mr. Feibush for this restoration attempt, your office is requesting to have the lot restored to its original condition and is threatening to pursue legal action.
Its original condition would be an area overgrown with weeds and plants that attracted homeless people to sleep in. Even if Mr. Feibush did trespass, he did the city a big favor by sparing it from spending several thousands of dollars in time, money and manpower to clean up the lot. It would be a huge disservice to punish Mr. Feibush for his contribution.
Please think about the before and after versions of the lot. Ask yourself, “Which lot would I want in my neighborhood for my kids, elderly parents, or just myself?” The run-down, trash-filled, weed-infested vacant lot or the cleaned up, newly renovated, attractive lot? Thank you for your time and please consider resolving this matter without resorting to litigation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Nakedphilly.com