5TH SQUARE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER: September 11, 2018

Bus network redesign lessons, Philly still outpacing suburbs, Last call for Citizens Planning Institute

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QUICK ACTION

Eleven people have died so far on Roosevelt Boulevard this year, reports Jason Laughlin, and there have already been more crashes in 2018 than it averages most years. City officials from OTIS are brushing off this statistic, arguing that it's still in the range of 10 to 16 fatalities, so it's nothing out of the ordinary.

"People who live near the road describe speeding cars, overturned vehicles, and pileups as common sights," writes Laughlin, but "City officials said that the deaths so far are still within the range of 10 to 16 a year that's typical for the Boulevard, also called Route 1, but that this year does mark an increase over 2017, when there were eight fatal crashes, according to PennDOT data."

This is the opposite of how City officials are supposed to be talking about traffic fatalities after taking the Vision Zero pledge. Rather than excusing the predictable fatalities created by their badly designed roads, they should be treating this like a real emergency, and making every effort to speed up changes to reduce speeds and lanes right away. But Laughlin says current plans aren't likely to be completed until at least 2040

That's unacceptable. Email the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems at VisionZero@phila.gov and let them know you expect swift action to change Roosevelt Boulevard in months, not decades. Then, find your PA state Rep and tell them to vote YES on SB172 for a speed camera pilot on the Boulevard when the House votes on it this month.


EVENTS

Tuesday, September 11, 6:00 pm
Philly Women in GIS First Meetup 
One of our newest members, Anna Wegbreit, is hosting the first meet-up for a new Women in GIS chapter for Philadelphia. 

Thursday, September 13th, 7:00 pm
Planet Fitness Lot project in Olde Richmond
This section of Olde Richmond near the northern edge of Fishtown is at a tipping point. It could become more like the kind of suburban auto-oriented sprawl development on Aramingo Ave, or change course to become more like the walkable urban neighborhoods just a couple blocks away. With 41 units of housing and 26 parking spaces on part of a massive surface parking lot behind the suburban-style Planet Fitness building, this project plants a flag firmly in favor of the walkable urban direction, and is worth showing up to defend for that reason. Anyone from the neighborhood can testify but only people within 500 feet can vote. 

Tuesday, September 18, 5:30 pm
Litter? Not in Philly Meetup and Ambassador Training
Not in Philly is a citizen-driven tech platform that empowers residents to clean their block on their own schedule. It’s the first and only map-based platform for easy street adoption. Since it launched in 2016, over 1,300 Philadelphians from Moyamensing to Brewerytown have signed up for the efficient, low-cost solution that combines the efforts of volunteers to make a huge impact.

Wednesday, September 19th, 6:30 pm
5th Square Marketing + Organizing Committee Meeting
In September we're hosting a joint meeting of our Marketing and Organizing committees focused on digital organizing and the 2019 elections. Most of the meeting will be devoted to getting volunteers trained on the digital organizing platforms we use for email, web publishing, and supporter mobilization. If you're interested in getting involved in our 2019 campaign work, this will be a good one to attend.


MERCH

Get our limited run artist series t-shirt, featuring an original illustration by Kate Otte. 
Proceeds from sales will go to fund our 2019 political activities for City Council races. You can get a shirt at half price ($10 instead of $20) if you become a member, and sign up for a $5 recurring monthly donation

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NEWS


Simpler bus routes and dedicated lanes produced an overnight ridership increase of 14 percent after Seoul's 2004 bus network redesign, reports Andy Furillo at Streetsblog, offering some lessons for American cities trying to improve their bus service. "On some corridors, bus speeds doubled almost immediately after the overhaul, and travel times improved for cars as well. Infrastructure modernization focused on improving the rider experience played a vital role in the overhaul. Spacious stops feature covered seating, and clear signage shows the full route of each bus line that serves any given stop...Riders pay fares using a unified smartcard system also used for the subway, and enjoy seamless, free transfers between the two modes at well-built, neighborhood-integrated transit centers."

A report for TD Bank finds suburbs are growing faster than cities again in the thirteen largest U.S. metros, with the exception of Philadelphia
, reports Joe DiStefano."Kolaj compared annual census estimates, housing starts and other growth data for the 13 largest metro areas from New England to Florida. In all but one of those regions, suburban populations grew more rapidly than cities last year. The exception was Philadelphia, which still grew slightly faster than its mostly anemic suburbs in 2017, though even that margin has been closing."

But Mayor Kenney's Housing Action Plan aims to build less housing than we have been since the middle of the recession, writes Jon Geeting in The Philadelphia Citizen. "The Kenney administration is actually planning for decline instead of growth in market-rate housing construction, rather than setting a stretch goal for building more than we are now. The goals for market-rate housing production are set at a curiously low 1,500 units per year—far lower than what we’ve been building in almost every year of the post-Recession period." We're collecting feedback on the Housing Plan draft overview and will be sending your responses to the Planning Commission. Read the overview and share your feedback by the end of the day on Tuesday.

According to L+I's daily by-right zoning permits email, two great adaptive reuse projects are coming to Germantown, one near Wayne Junction (32 units) and another down the street from Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books, with 16 units and two office spaces. If you like housing and zoning, we recommend signing up to get this email because more often than not, it's a nice daily affirmation that good, dense, urbanist-friendly projects do get rubber-stamped every day in this city without a big political fight. To spare L+I staff inboxes, just reply to this email with your email address, and we'll ask L+I to add you to the distribution list.

Academy Road is still dangerous even after a recent "Vision Zero" treatment from the Streets Department, as a woman walking to or waiting for the bus was just killed by a driver on Labor Day weekend, write Kate Norris and Randy LoBasso. "Given the current condition of chronic speeding along the roadway, Academy Road needs more aggressive Vision Zero treatments beyond pavement markings to reduce speeding and increase safety for the pedestrians who live by and walk on this four-lane street."



OPPORTUNITIES

Citizens Planning Institute applications are due by midnight tonight on September 11th

Smith Memorial Playground is hiring an Executive Director

The Philadelphia Land Bank is hiring a Senior Development Specialist

Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority is hiring a Director of their new Restore, Repair, Renew home preservation loan program, and are seeking proposals from lenders for the Small Landlord Loan Program

OHCD released an RFP for Affordable Rental and Special Needs Housing Development

LISC announced the new Belinda Mayo Community Leadership Fund offering $500 for things like trainings or conferences



5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee.
 We're an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and more and better public spaces. You’re receiving this email if you signed up via our website, attended one of our events, or supported one of our advocacy campaigns. Support our advocacy with a recurring monthly contribution of $5.

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