At-Large: Katherine Gilmore Richardson Response to 5th Square Questionnaire

Read At-Large Democratic candidate Katherine Gilmore Richardson's responses to the 5th Square 2019 City Council Candidate Questionnaire. Visit our 2019 City Council Campaign page for more candidate questionnaire responses.

Candidate Name: Katherine Gilmore Richardson

Candidate Introduction

Philadelphia is soaring to new heights and leaving too many people behind. Today in Philadelphia, the number one predictor of life expectancy is the zip code where you live and that cannot be the answer that any of us are satisfied with. As a mother of young children, I see the City through their eyes. Issues of education, public safety and job creation all take on a higher and more urgent purpose when looking at them through the eyes of a toddler. I am excited by the opportunity to use my experience in City Government as a member of City Council At-Large.


The below questions are related to policies that reflect use of the streets are used by all Philadelphians including pedestrians, as well as bicycle, bus, car riders and drivers. A priority of 5th Square is placing front-and-center the concerns of the elderly, children, and residents utilizing mobility assistance.

1. Many curb cuts and sidewalks in the city are blocked by parked cars, resulting in inadequate and unsafe crossings for seniors, residents utilizing mobility assistance, and parents with small children. In your view, what should City Council do about this problem?

As a mother with young children who frequently used a stroller to walk my children throughout my neighborhood, a blocked/unsafe crossing is a potential hazard to the safety of my children and I as well as other residents in our local communities. I believe we should ensure all pedestrian crossings are clearly marked at every intersection in the City. Additionally, I think this is an opportunity to work with the Police Department and the Parking Authority around uniform enforcement of blocked crosswalks.

2. What is your opinion of the Kenney administration's progress on their Vision Zero street safety initiative? Is the current pace of progress acceptable to you? If not, what would you do differently? How would you use your Council position to accomplish this?

I am glad that Mayor Kenney set forth an action plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2030. When we have one death, that is one death too many. There has been meaningful progress with Vision Zero. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Traffic fatalities are still occurring at a far higher rate than other major cities particularly the recent traffic deaths of young children. As a mother, I despise seeing stories about children killed in pedestrian/vehicular accidents. I will work with the administration, advocates and others to draft legislation around traffic calming/safety improvement through changes in education, community outreach, changes in road signage, markings, and continued efforts of local control of speed limits/bumps. As a legislative aide in City Council, working with the advocates and administration officials, I worked on the bill that established the bike sharing program in Philadelphia. As a member of Council, I would continue to work with the Kenney Administration to meet the goals of Vision Zero.

3. Will you support “daylighting” intersections to restore clear lines of sight near crossings for drivers and pedestrians through the use of plastic bollards and curb bumpouts, with prioritization for school zones, intersections with high pedestrian volume, and high crash intersections? How many intersections should be "daylighted" each year?

Further reading on daylighting:

Research indicates that the daylighting has been successfully implemented in other cities and is an important step to take in targeted areas to make intersections safer. It is imperative that we establish this practice in areas around school zones and high pedestrian volume. I believe that all school zones should be daylighted to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable citizens, our children.

4. Philadelphia has some of the lowest per-capita spending among our peer cities on basic street maintenance, slowing down the rollout of life-saving design changes that are part of Mayor Kenney's Vision Zero initiative. If elected, will you advocate for a larger Streets Department repaving budget?


5. Will you support a Mayoral initiative to create a municipal street sweeping program, even if it means motorists will need to move their vehicles a few times a month?

Yes. I am glad that the Mayor will introduce a pilot program in six neighborhoods this spring to implement street sweeping in more neighborhoods. However, I would gladly introduce a budget request or transfer ordinance for a citywide street sweeping program. Philadelphia has the reputation of being a trashy City. I believe one way to lose that bad reputation is by instituting a city wide street sweeping program. Additionally, from an education perspective, I plan to introduce legislation that creates a program where students enrolled in school can receive community service credit towards graduation for partnering with local businesses to clean up their local commercial corridors and other areas in their community.

6. Will you vote to repeal Council's 2012 legislation requiring a Council ordinance to remove travel or parking lanes, and once again empower Streets Department safety professionals to make these decisions administratively?

Further reading:



Our goal is to shift the city's overall transportation mode share radically toward transit and active mobility, and away from single occupancy vehicles, for the benefit of public health as well as the environment.

1. Philadelphia currently only funds around 11 percent of SEPTA's budget, with the state and federal governments funding the majority of the operating and capital budgets. This is one of the lowest local contributions in the country, per-capita. If elected, will you advocate for increasing dedicated local transit funding? If so, what revenue source is best?

Yes, I would like to see increased local funding to SEPTA. However we must realize our base fare costs are higher than other comparable cities and 26% of the people in our City are living in poverty. I think we can redirect portions of funding from other taxes collected to increase SEPTA’s budget.

2. The City Bus system works to improve air quality as well as reduce traffic congestion. Unfortunately, city bus ridership has fallen dramatically over the past few years, and route performance has become increasingly unreliable. Which of the following measures would you be willing to advocate for to increase bus ridership?

  • Bus-only lanes on more major streets Yes
  • Automated photo enforcement of bus-only lanes and bus/trolley stopping zones No
  • All-door boarding with off-board fare payment No
  • Free transfers between buses, trolleys, and subways, funded by the City Yes
  • Stop consolidation to speed up buses Yes

3. Will you support funding a City pilot program to provide free SEPTA transit to all children under 12 years of age?

The current cut-off is 4-years-old, after which children are required to pay the full fare

Yes. In a city with 26% of our residents living in poverty, I think this pilot program would help a lot of families. Lastly, I would also look to other partners, stakeholders, and foundations for resources to establish such a program.

4. Over 30,000 Philadelphia public school students are currently ineligible for subsidized TransPasses, because the School District does not provide passes to students living within 1.5 miles of their local school. Do you support universalizing student TransPasses so all students can use them?


5. Residential permit parking needs an overhaul. The current cost for an annual parking permit for car owners to store their private vehicles on public streets is just $35, and many streets do not require a permit. Which reforms to permit parking would you be willing to consider, if elected?

  • Capping permits at the number of available spaces in each parking district No
  • Neighborhood-wide opt-in for permit parking, as opposed to block-by-block petitions Yes
  • Blacklisting addresses of new buildings with no parking from eligibility for street permits No
  • Employer permits for commercial corridor workers near residential permit zones Yes


6. SEPTA and the City are exploring a bus network redesign that could greatly improve bus service frequency and usability at little additional cost. Improving service will involve some trade-offs, however, like more stop consolidation and transfers. How should Councilmembers be approaching this initiative?

Further reading:

Councilmembers should be actively engaged in this conversation by working with SEPTA to help facilitate a discussion with everyday riders, community and civic leaders, business owners, and elected officials on how SEPTA would enhance the new network to meet the needs of constituents all across the City. An education campaign around this process should be established to help the public and stakeholders understand the redesigning of the network.

7. Do you support Council President Darrell Clarke's Charter change proposal to create a new class of unarmed officers to enforce traffic violations?

Further reading:


Land Use and Zoning

Our goal is to promote the most efficient use of land in our city, fostering accessible, walkable communities in which all Philadelphians can reside, regardless of economic status. We believe in building more housing, reducing costs, increasing the vitality of our commercial corridors, and facilitating transit-oriented development. Philadelphia made great strides toward this vision with the 2012 Zoning Reform package, and the next City Council should defend and expand on that progress.

1. Only 13% of land in Philadelphia is covered by the multifamily zoning categories eligible for City Council’s new Mixed-Income Housing program. Do you believe 13% is the appropriate percentage? If not, what is the right number?

As a Council staffer, I had the opportunity to work on the transit oriented development bill which encouraged development along transit stops to ensure that all Philadelphians have equal access to services that will connect them to better opportunities and potential employment. Philadelphia must focus on preserving its existing housing stock and increasing opportunities for multi family zoning categories. 13% is not enough and I would support any effort to increase that number.

2. In 2012, City Council voted to eliminate or reduce minimum parking requirements for many zoning districts, because parking minimums increase housing prices, driving, and traffic congestion. Will you vote to eliminate the last of the minimum parking requirements still remaining in the zoning code, which would mainly affect Center City, University City, and areas near the subways?


3. The same 2012 zoning reform bill contained language legalizing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which allow property owners to have an additional rental unit on their property. City Council unfortunately never finished the job, and didn't write in which zoning districts should permit ADUs. Where would you allow ADUs?

ADUs are important for ensuring stability for seniors and individuals with disabilities. It is important that we engage the community on this issue to determine what areas make sense.

4. In 2017, City Council revamped the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Overlay ordinance, which would allow greater density and less parking within 500 feet of designated transit stations. Will you support a citywide bill designating TOD overlays for all city transit and regional rail stations?

ABSOLUTELY! As the staff director who oversaw the introduction and subsequent passage of this bill, I would support a citywide TOD overlay by preparing a bill for introduction by April of 2020.

5. What should be Philadelphia's strategy for keeping neighborhoods affordable as they see more growth and development? Is City policy striking the right balance now, following City Council's recent affordable housing package? If not, what is left to do, in your opinion?

It is essential that Philadelphia (with a 26% poverty rate) keeps neighborhoods affordable as we continue to see increased growth and development throughout Philadelphia. I think we do this by investing in our education system to ensure our students are job market, college and career ready for family supporting and sustaining jobs. We need to invest in small and middle market businesses to spur job creation for living wage jobs to ensure the people of Philadelphia can afford their homes. I think the recent affordable housing package is a step in the right direction. We should continue to ensure we work on policies that stabilize rent costs, increase affordable housing options and expand housing preservation programs which will help homeowners keep, preserve and stay in their homes.