3rd District Councilmember Jannie Blackwell thinks you should have to get a letter of support from City Council for that planter in front of your house. We’re here to tell you how backwards this is.
On Thursday February 2, Councilmember Blackwell introduced legislation (Bill No. 170087) to amend Chapter 10-611 of the Code, entitled "Sidewalk Behavior," by “providing certain requirements for obtaining a permit to place street furniture, planters, benches and other fixtures on the public sidewalk.”
According to Councilmember Blackwell’s proposal, “certain requirements” means a signed letter of support from the District Councilmember. Here’s the relevant text (proposed changes shown in italics):
“No person shall… place or maintain any bench, planter, fixture or other street furniture on the public sidewalk without a permit from the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Before any such permit is issued the Department shall obtain a letter of support from the District Council person representing the area of the city where the bench, planter, fixture or street furniture will be located.”
This is a totally unacceptable power grab from residents and businesses, which would put City Councilmembers in the absurd position of acting as gatekeepers for people's sidewalk plants.
Sign this petition to say NO to the Planter Power Grab
As written, this bill would apply to any benches and planters in front of homes. The City already has laws on the books to ensure passable sidewalks for pedestrians and those who use wheelchairs, so it's not clear what Councilmember Blackwell’s goal is, other than appointing herself the home decor czar. Council has bigger fish to fry than to micromanage everyone's street decorations, or at least they should.
This bill is especially disappointing since West Philly is at the forefront of public space and public seating innovation in Philadelphia, thanks largely to the work of University City District. The 3rd District needs a Councilmember who wants to ramp up UCD's amazing work, not scale it back.
There's still time to stop this bill
Council bill 170087 aka the Planter Power Grab has been referred to the Council Committee on Streets and Services, which is chaired by 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla and also includes 7th District Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (Vice-Chair), David Oh (At-large), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Cindy Bass (8th District), Bill Greenlee (At-large), and Al Taubenberger (At-large).
Sign and share this petition, and then call your City Councilmember:
Jannie Blackwell: (215) 686-3418
Mark Squilla: (215) 686-3458
Maria Quiñones-Sánchez: (215) 686-3448
Kenyatta Johnson: (215) 686-3412
Cindy Bass: (215) 686-3424
Bill Greenlee: (215) 686-3446
David Oh: (215) 686-3452
Al Taubenberger: (215) 686-3440