The 5th Square Candidate Questionnaire

Below please find the digital version of the printed questionnaire we sent your campaign office. You may elect to fill out this digital version in lieu of the printed version. In order to fill out this digital version, you must sign into this website with the official candidate email, Facebook or Twitter accounts in order for us to certify the validity of responses. 

This questionnaire is not directly linked anywhere on our website in order to minimize the risk of non-candidates responding. This questionnaire has been paid for by The 5th Square PAC (5thsq.org) It is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Responses to this questionnaire must be received by Friday, May 1st, either in digital or printed form. If you are sending in the printed form please send it to:

The 5th Square
Attn: Geoff Kees Thompson
2217 Kimball Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Please feel free to call The 5th Square Chair Geoff Kees Thompson at 215.352.5456 with any questions. You can also email The 5th Square at 5thsq@5thsq.org. If you do, Please CC g.k.thompson@gmail.com.

Name of Candidate:

Showing 173 reactions

  • answered 2015-05-01 20:32:53 -0400
    Q: We invite you as a candidate for political office to reach out to the voters of Philadelphia by speaking to them directly. We will host your thoughts on one of the following 9 topics below if you so choose. Please choose one topic and detail 3-5 policy changes you would make to achieve this goal. 1. Reducing the number of motor-vehicle crashes and conflicts among street users with appropriate infrastructure or roadway design changes, automated traffic law enforcement, or street- or neighborhood- specific changes in traffic rules 2. Ensuring thorough investigation of, and appropriate consequences for, drivers who commit traffic offenses that result in injury or death 3. Encouraging Philadelphians to use public transit, walk or bicycle within the city, instead of driving 4. Repurposing street space to better meet transportation needs (please specify particular streets) 5. Making land assessments accurate, and keeping them accurate 6. Increasing the amount of public space for non-transportation use, such as plazas and street closure programs (e.g., open streets and play streets.) 7. Expanding the on-street bike network in the most heavily-biked areas 8. Investing in walking and biking infrastructure outside of Center City 9. Getting our most popular bus and trolley lines out of congested mixed traffic
    A: 3. ENCOURAGING PHILADELPHIANS TO USE PUBLIC TRANSIT, WALK OR BICYCLE WITHIN THE CITY, INSTEAD OF DRIVING
    Once again, Philadelphia is assuming its role on the world stage. With a significant number of high-level events over the next year, Philadelphia is positioned to become a destination of choice for Americans and citizens from across the globe. But we cannot forget about our own residents. Philadelphia is a walkable city of neighborhoods, whose rich diversity and history is a source of local and national pride, as well as economic vitality. Highlighting our neighborhoods as destinations for “local tourism” will lead to increased profits for small businesses on commercial corridors, and engender a deeper connection to the city we all love.

    In 2013, the William Penn Foundation provided financial support to Visit Philly to encourage tourism in 14 neighborhoods in and around Center City. This led to Food and Wine Magazine recognizing East Passyunk as among the “10 Best Foodie Streets in America.” As Mayor, I will push to expand this campaign to additional neighborhoods outside of Center City’s environs, and market it to residents across the region. I will encourage neighborhood-based tourism beyond Center City, and encourage partnerships with SEPTA and BikeShare that highlights public transit and bike-lane assets in neighborhoods, while providing neighborhood-specific messaging for businesses and landmarks. Partners can lead promotional activities to encourage residents to explore and find unique destinations across the city, aligning the city’s arts, culture, historic preservation and other sectors to ensure every Philadelphia neighborhood is a destination of choice where small businesses thrive.

    The coordination of tourism and conference/convention attraction is another crucial component of an effective economic development strategy. Connecting convention and conference attendees to neighborhoods is another opportunity to take vehicles off of the street. The Suburban Station Underground Concourse is 3.5 miles worth of underutilized space that could be used for interactive billboards and digital spaces for tourists to learn about prospective neighborhoods to visit on SEPTA or on bikes. Every dollar that SEPTA receives from advertising is earmarked for improving bus and rail operations, providing an incentive for SEPTA to attract tourists to neighborhoods all across Philadelphia.

    Finally, as Mayor I’ll ensure a strong partnership between the Chamber of Commerce, Visit Philly and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors’ Bureau to focus on increasing local tourism specifically among diverse communities that harnesses public transit and bicycle trails as strategic economic assets. Philadelphia has significant historical and cultural spaces upon which to build a compelling narrative that can reach a broad population. A neighborhood-to-neighborhood campaign to brand Philadelphia’s communities for Philadelphians is key to building civic pride and fortifying Philadelphia’s image and strengths as a diverse, walkable and accessible City.
  • answered 2015-05-01 18:06:42 -0400
    Q: We invite you as a candidate for political office to reach out to the voters of Philadelphia by speaking to them directly. We will host your thoughts on one of the following 9 topics below if you so choose. Please choose one topic and detail 3-5 policy changes you would make to achieve this goal. 1. Reducing the number of motor-vehicle crashes and conflicts among street users with appropriate infrastructure or roadway design changes, automated traffic law enforcement, or street- or neighborhood- specific changes in traffic rules 2. Ensuring thorough investigation of, and appropriate consequences for, drivers who commit traffic offenses that result in injury or death 3. Encouraging Philadelphians to use public transit, walk or bicycle within the city, instead of driving 4. Repurposing street space to better meet transportation needs (please specify particular streets) 5. Making land assessments accurate, and keeping them accurate 6. Increasing the amount of public space for non-transportation use, such as plazas and street closure programs (e.g., open streets and play streets.) 7. Expanding the on-street bike network in the most heavily-biked areas 8. Investing in walking and biking infrastructure outside of Center City 9. Getting our most popular bus and trolley lines out of congested mixed traffic
    A: 5. Assessing land is so much easier than assessing improvements. Right now, with improvements over assessed and land under assessed, we actually give people an incentive to make their property look worse. Also, we currently need assessors to patrol neighborhoods, keeping an eye on the changing reality on the ground. Clearly, it’s imperative that we get it right with land assessments. Doing so would be remarkably easy, we just need the will.

    - We would need to look at arms length transactions for land sales in every census tract as a starting point. Square footage and zoning will also need to be taken into account to create a base number for land value. Lots on the same block that are the same size will have uniform assessments.
    - With baseline assessments created, a team would need to examine the data, block by block, to ensure that abnormalities are identified and other location-by-location quirks are taken into account (eg if a property across the street from a power plant).
    - After this process concludes, we would have reliable land value data across the city. With that, we could look toward citywide housing value trends moving forward, making sure that the land values across the city keep up with reality.
    - With the implementation of this plan, it would be imperative that the assessments on improvements decrease by the same value that the land assessments increase. It would be incredibly unfair to raise someone’s property taxes by correcting the ratio of land to improvements.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:52:17 -0400
    Q: Should City Council be the approving body for traffic alterations to Philadelphia's citywide street network, e.g. removal of a traffic lane, turning lane, parking lane, etc.? Or should this be determined by the Streets Department, MOTU, PennDOT and other street-related agencies?
    A: This effort needs to be coordinated among many different city agencies, but ultimately traffic measures should be determined by the experts, not individual council members.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:51:16 -0400
    Q: Philadelphia provides municipal trash service to residences, but businesses are left to contract with private vendors, resulting in multiple large dumpsters in the public realm (e.g., alleyways). Do you think the City should change this current trash collection strategy? If so, how?
    A: I would like to see a more organized effort to collect commercial trash in Philadelphia. I would support dividing the city into different sections and bidding out those sections to private vendors. In this scenario, different trash collection companies would have their own exclusive territories, reducing costs and prices, and increasing efficiency dramatically. This would make our city prettier, and it would smell better too.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:43:37 -0400
    Q: What is your position in regards to creating an integrated protected bike lane network throughout the city of Philadelphia? Are there areas in the city that you believe should be addressed first?
    A: Philadelphia needs an integrated protected bike lane network yesterday. I would start building protected bicycle lanes in neighborhoods most lacking direct access to Center City. We can look to other cities that have successfully implemented protected bike lanes for lessons on how to get it done.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:23:16 -0400
    Q: What is your position about vehicles parked on the City Hall apron/sidewalk?
    A: Cars should not be parked on the apron of City Hall. Those who insist on doing so should have their cars covered in peanut butter.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:21:51 -0400
    Q: At 16% of total land area, Philadelphia has one of the lowest tree canopy percentages among large U.S. cities. Comparable cities exceed 30%. Do you believe Philly needs to increase this percentage? If so, how? Please be specific about how you would fund this.
    A: For every new home built in Philadelphia, I would require the developer to cover the costs of two street trees, one in front of their property, and another in another location.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:18:47 -0400
    Q: Should City Council be the approving body for traffic alterations to Philadelphia's citywide street network, e.g. removal of a traffic lane, turning lane, parking lane, etc.? Or should this be determined by the Streets Department, MOTU, PennDOT and other street-related agencies?
    A: City Council and the executive branch should have a strong partnership that shares data to inform decision-making.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:18:38 -0400
    Q: Do you support increasing funding for Parks & Recreation throughout the city as a means to improving public health and the economy? If so, how would you better fund our parks? If not, why not?
    A: I would like for developers to pay storm water impact fees instead of maintaining their own onsite storm water. This would generate millions of dollars each year to improve public spaces. In addition, I would like to see more funding to Parks and Rec activities, to enrich the lives of children in our city.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:16:38 -0400
    Q: What kinds of zoning and land use policies can best help our neighborhood commercial corridors and small businesses?
    A: I’ve often said it’s easier to open an illegal business than a legal business on many commercial corridors. I would support broad remapping of commercial corridors in the 2nd District, in a process that brings neighbors and community groups together to express their vision for their neighborhood. It’s important to keep an eye toward economic realities, and keep those in mind when considering each corridor.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:13:26 -0400
    Q: What is an appropriate legal speed limit on a neighborhood street in Philadelphia? On an arterial street? What are some policies and/or physical alterations that can be implemented to help ensure drivers obey speed limits and other traffic laws?
    A: I’m no expert, but 20 mph seems reasonable for a neighborhood street and 30 mph seems acceptable on an arterial street. Speed bumps, chicanes, and circles would all reduce the speed on city streets and increase public safety.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:12:21 -0400
    Q: Philadelphia provides municipal trash service to residences, but businesses are left to contract with private vendors, resulting in multiple large dumpsters in the public realm (e.g., alleyways). Do you think the City should change this current trash collection strategy? If so, how?
    A: I proposed a plan for citywide street sweeping, and with additional funds for Streets Department ($5 increase for vehicle registration) is an appropriate opportunity to review our trash collection strategy for commercial and residential areas. Addressing alleyways, which fall neither under the City or the State, is a serious issue that my Streets Commissioner will deal with as a priority.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:10:19 -0400
    Q: The current cost for an annual parking permit for car owners to store their private vehicle on public streets is $35. Do you think this price point should be revisited?
    A: Yes. It should be increased.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:08:33 -0400
    Q: Is regularly scheduled street sweeping of Philadelphia's streets more important than preserving the convenience of residents who prefer not moving their vehicles?
    A: Yes it is.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:08:19 -0400
    Q: Would you support pedestrianization of street space that may currently be used for parking or vehicle transit?
    A: Yes. Spaces like the Triangles at 23rd & Grays Ferry have taken a superfluous section of street and created a wonderful public space. Parklets add seating for businesses without blocking the sidewalk. Assuming that near neighbors are supportive and traffic engineers believe the project can work, I would support similar efforts in the future.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:06:45 -0400
    Q: At 16% of total land area, Philadelphia has one of the lowest tree canopy percentages among large U.S. cities. Comparable cities exceed 30%. Do you believe Philly needs to increase this percentage? If so, how? Please be specific about how you would fund this.
    A: Yes. Because of data we know exactly where the City needs to improve its tree canopy percentage, it is especially low or non-existent in low-income communities. Supporting PHS programs to add tree cover, and the Department of Parks and Recreation’s TreePhilly initiatives will be crucial.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:01:59 -0400
    Q: Do you support increasing funding for Parks & Recreation throughout the city as a means to improving public health and the economy? If so, how would you better fund our parks? If not, why not?
    A: YES. Increasing operating and capital budgets for Parks and Recreation is crucial. Underfunding the basic capital needs of parks and recreation is short sighted. Thirteen percent of Philadelphia is parkland. Philadelphia has one of the top 5 highest total acreages of park land in the nation. We spend less than almost every city to maintain it. It will improve homeowner equity and enhance population health outcomes, particularly for low-income communities that lack access.
  • answered 2015-05-01 17:01:56 -0400
    Q: Do you support revising the zoning code to remove minimum accessory parking requirements?
    A: Yes, for all smaller parcels. Once you consider a parcel larger than, say, 10,000 sqft, parking could come into the conversation. In the heart of Center City, I don’t think there should be any parking requirements.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:58:32 -0400
    Q: What is an appropriate legal speed limit on a neighborhood street in Philadelphia? On an arterial street? What are some policies and/or physical alterations that can be implemented to help ensure drivers obey speed limits and other traffic laws?
    A: Implementing our Vision Zero approach will address this issue across the city.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:58:19 -0400
    Q: Do you support raising millage rates on the land portion of the property tax, and lowering millage rates on improvements to the structure?
    A: No. I support properly balancing the valuations for all properties in Philadelphia. That means correctly assessing land and improvements. If the land were properly assessed, property taxes would be more fair for everyone. The system would remain unfair with different millage rates and maintaining the currently incorrect valuations.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:57:36 -0400
    Q: The current cost for an annual parking permit for car owners to store their private vehicle on public streets is $35. Do you think this price point should be revisited?
    A: YES. I proposed a $5 increase in the vehicle registration fee to pay for weekly street sweeping. Any increase should be earmarked for the Streets Department.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:56:18 -0400
    Q: Is regularly scheduled street sweeping of Philadelphia's streets more important than preserving the convenience of residents who prefer not moving their vehicles?
    A: YES. I am the only candidate with a plan to implement weekly street sweeping. Neighbors who want their street cleaned will have conversations with their neighbors.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:55:16 -0400
    Q: Do you believe that bike-friendly infrastructure is economically beneficial to a community’s commercial corridors & cities at large?
    A: Yes, when more people are on bikes and fewer people are behind the wheel, it’s easier for them to support local businesses rather than spend their time circling for parking.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:54:56 -0400
    Q: Would you support pedestrianization of street space that may currently be used for parking or vehicle transit?
    A: YES. Making Philadelphia a more walkable city is a goal that I support. Each neighborhood has different needs, and should be approached in that way in partnership with District councilpeople.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:53:49 -0400
    Q: Do you believe that bike-friendly cities have a higher quality of life?
    A: Absolutely they do.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:53:35 -0400
    Q: Protected bike lanes on JFK and Market were piloted and found to be minimally disruptive to drivers in 2011. Will you support funding the installation of these protected bike lanes if elected?
    A: Yes, in theory. I like the idea of protected bike lanes on JFK and Market, especially because we saw that they would not have a significant impact on vehicular traffic. I would need to understand how much it would cost to set this up before offering my full support.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:53:14 -0400
    Q: Do you support revising the zoning code to remove minimum accessory parking requirements?
    A: Neighborhoods with significant access to public transit should be considered differently when it comes to development. The need for parking can vary from one neighborhood to the next.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:50:27 -0400
    Q: Do you support raising millage rates on the land portion of the property tax, and lowering millage rates on improvements to the structure?
    A: I agree with shifting our tax burden towards property taxes and away from wages and business profits. My plan to decouple commercial and residential property taxes is an important component to this approach, and I will consider this as well.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:49:21 -0400
    Q: Should the city make all data concerning street use, street conditions and traffic crash investigations available in a timely, digital format to the public?
    A: Yes, absolutely.
  • answered 2015-05-01 16:49:05 -0400
    Q: Should the City Revenue Department release as much of its records as legally possible for independent analysis and overall transparency?
    A: Yes, transparency is critical.