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Bed bug task force aims to secure bed bug ordinance for City of Philadelphia

Posted: February 19, 2019

Philadelphians Against Bed Bugs (PhABB) – a partnership among Penn State Integrated Pest Management Program, local agencies, non-profits, health care professionals, senior and low-income housing advocates, lawyers, and everyday citizens -- is one step closer to securing a bed bug ordinance for the city of Philadelphia and awaits the vote of the City Council.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have stated that bed bugs are a pest of significant public health importance,” said George Gould, senior attorney with Community Legal Services, Inc. “Philadelphia has no city department dealing with the problem of bed bugs, while other major cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston have comprehensive ordinances dealing with this serious health problem.”

In October 2018, representatives of PhABB with help from Gould, sent a request to Philadelphia’s 1st District Councilmember, Mark Squilla, urging him to move forward with a bed bug ordinance, according to Michelle Niedermeier, program coordinator for community integrated pest management at the Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management (PA IPM) Program at Penn State. “The City’s law office responded with a revised ordinance, and together we worked with Councilmember Squilla to fine tune it,” said Niedermeier.

The goal of PhABB, she added, is to help the City of Philadelphia with a bed bug ordinance that is based on current best management practices and protocols; that would require property owners to keep their properties free of bed bugs; implement a code enforcement policy that takes infestations seriously; educate the residents and city employees about best practices for remediation; and implement and enforce policies to keep homes, schools, and workplaces free from infestations.

“The PA IPM Program is the educational arm of PhABB, helping citizens of Pennsylvania to understand the importance of properly managing bed bugs,” said Niedermeier. PA IPM offers a free “Bed Bug Basics” workshop monthly to help educate about the do’s and don’ts of bed bug remediation.

On February 14, 2019 the bed bug bill was introduced into City Council by Councilmember Squilla and 8 additional co-sponsors: Councilmember Parker, Councilmember Bass, Councilmember Jones, Councilmember Henon, Councilmember Johnson, Councilmember Gym, ouncilmember Blackwell, Councilmember Greenlee. The next steps in this process are for a hearing to be set, and then a vote.

PhABB is optimistic that Philadelphia will have a much-needed bed bug ordinance soon.

To learn more about Philadelphians Against Bed Bugs (PhABB), pleases visit their website.