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Politics & Government

City Council Digs Deeper Into Making BBI Its Own City Department

One of the items Mayor Bill Peduto ran on was making the Bureau of Building Inspection its own department, which would report directly to the mayor, rather than to the head of public safety. Such a move is intended to modernize the department, among other things.

“Unfortunately, we are operating currently much as we did back in the 1980s,” said BBI Chief Maura Kennedy, “we’re still using paper systems, paper databases and very inefficient forms of communication, so we’re looking to be much more efficient with communicating to both our customers - the citizens and businesses of Pittsburgh – and also being much more efficient with administering our business practices.”

And, Mayor Peduto’s Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin said the current system is not efficient, and added that is a problem as Pittsburgh is managing growth, rather than decline.

“You’re building a building, you had five or six different inspectors that need to show up – whether or not they were communicating – who knows,” he said, “that siloed nature of doing inspections where inspector A left off and inspector B picked up that’s gaps where public safety issues and code violations can arise.”

But, at least one member of Pittsburgh City Council said she was concerned about taking the BBI out from under the Department of Public Safety. Acklin said safety will still be a top priority. Still, Councilwoman Darlene Harris remained unconvinced that this is a good move.

“This is not right, and if you go over and ask the people that work over there, the morale is bad now,” she said, and Acklin said interjected that morale is one issue they’re trying to fix. “It’s  not going to change with what you’re doing,” said Harris, to which Acklin replied, “that remains to be seen.”

Council President Bruce Kraus said he supports the move, and cited the need for more robust inspections of housing for students and nightclubs.