At-Large: Adrian Rivera-Reyes Response to 5th Square Questionnaire

Read At-Large Democratic candidate Adrian Rivera-Reyes' responses to the 5th Square 2019 City Council Candidate Questionnaire. Visit our 2019 City Council Campaign page for more candidate questionnaire responses.

Candidate Name: Adrian Rivera-Reyes

Candidate Introduction

Growing up in Puerto Rico to a struggling working-class family, there were many inefficiencies that affected us and my community. While attending middle and high school, my parents left very early for work and could not take me to school. Unsurprisingly, there were no reliable public buses and paying for school buses was not a viable option for my family. Thus, for years we relied on our neighbor to drive me to school. In Philly, there are several issues that echo those of my own upbringing. Issues that include inefficiencies in our city's connectivity, green space availability, and zoning laws. These inequalities in our communities can be rectified by effecting sensible urban policies that reflect the interests of Philadelphians. I'm prepared to enact policies that connect our neighborhoods by creating and redesigning bus routes and expanding our protected bike lanes across the city. I will push for the creation of green spaces and parks in all neighborhoods, so that our children and families can safely enjoy Philadelphia's resources and reap the economic benefits. I will leverage my position on Council to push for sensible zoning laws that take into account each neighborhood's needs and the safety of its residents. As a cancer biologist, I will use my problem-solving skills and promote evidence-based solutions to issues. I'm running for City Council to enact fact-based policies that help all Philadelphians. It is my passion to serve others and my drive to do what is right that motivate me.


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?

While in city council, I will champion legislation that increases and promotes the safety of all Philadelphia residents. We can ensure safety by installing no parking zone signs, daylighting intersections, prohibiting drivers from parking at the curb, and increasing parking fines for those who violate the law.

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 fully support the Vision Zero goal of ending all traffic related deaths by the year 2030. Our local government should be guaranteeing the safety of all Philadelphia residents. It is inconceivable that we have 90-100 traffic deaths a year. Additionally, not only are we losing the lives of our loved ones and people in our community, but traffic deaths also contribute an incredible financial burden to our city. It is important that we start implementing new safety measures that work for Philadelphia and takes into account the safety of our communities. Moreover, I would push for a funding increase that would allow City Council to help implement the various street safety initiatives suggested not only on the intersections that make up the “High Injury List”, but also expand these initiatives to the streets surrounding our schools and our community, health, and recreational centers.

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:

Yes, daylighting not only makes our intersections safer for pedestrians, but also provide the opportunity to add bike parking and/or small green spaces Philadelphia residents can enjoy. I would consult the experts in Streets Department to determine what is the most sensible and the quickest way to daylight all intersections across the city.

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! Philadelphia desperately need street sweeping. The EPA strongly recommends street sweeping in order to reduce the number of storm water and natural waterway pollutants. This will not only beautify our neighborhoods and rid them of thrash, but also reduce the threat of public health issues related to contaminated water.

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?

There are multiple ways to increase funding for SEPTA. First, by increasing the cost of parking permits the city will be able to allocate more funding to our public transportation system. Additionally, SEPTA is an incredible resource that connects Philadelphia with many suburbs. This connectivity allows for workers and families to come to Philadelphia and promote our economy and vice versa. But Philadelphia residents should not be the only people funding SEPTA, we must negotiate with suburban counties so that they contribute their fair share and help maintain and expand SEPTA.

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 Yes
  • All-door boarding with off-board fare payment Yes
  • Free transfers between buses, trolleys, and subways, funded by the City Yes
  • Stop consolidation to speed up buses No

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, we should not be burdening families with SEPTA transit costs for their childre, especially because this limits access to resources for low income families, which are overwhelmingly people of color. By funding a City pilot program, we will increase access to resources for Philadelphians in all neighborhoods including, but not limited to, working-class Philadelphians.

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 Yes
  • 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 Yes
  • Employer permits for commercial corridor workers near residential permit zones Yes

Other: Increase the cost of parking permits to pay for street upgrades and parking enforcement officers

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:

Although stop consolidation will improve bus service frequency and usability at little cost, my concern is that it has to be done in a sensible way that does not affect accessibility for working class and poor neighborhoods, parents and their children, and the elderly. Moreover, we should not consolidate stops around or near healthcare and recreational centers, schools and universities, and places that serve our different communities. However, we must redesign certain bus routes and create new routes to connect neighborhoods in Philadelphia better and also connect the city better with suburban areas. Last, we must eliminate transfer fees for all SEPTA users, as they affect mostly underserved Philadelphians.

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?

I firmly believe that housing is a human right. In Council, I will work with others to guarantee that everyone in Philadelphia has a place to live in. With a poverty rate of 26%, it is inconceivable that only 13% of land is covered by multifamily zoning categories. We must increase the percentage of land being used for mixed-income families and do what is right for the people, not the real estate developers, who oppose a 13% usage of land for working-class Philadelphians. Thus, our local government must do more, and I will champion legislation that guarantees housing as a human right for all Philadelphians.

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?

Yes, not only because parking increases housing prices, driving, and traffic congestion but also because our city and the planet desperately needs to reduce harmful carbon emissions. We must seek legislation that accounts for the economy but also the quality of life of everyone in the city.

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?

I would allow ADU’s in places such as Northeast Philadelphia, where homeowners have spaces to build ADU’s. But I would also push for legislation that allows homeowners to decide if they would like to build ADU’s in their property.

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?

I will support a citywide bill designating TOD overlays for all city transit and regional rail stations. I will also push to expand the designated area for TOD’s to a half mile radius around the stations. Moreover, the units developed in the TOD designated areas must be mixed-income housing properties that also include affordable housing units.

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?

While I understand that $100M for affordable housing is a great package, it is not enough. In order to guarantee housing as a human right we must move towards a model of social housing. I support a model of social housing that is most prominent in places like Vienna. Currently, in the United States our public housing properties house less than 1% of people and are limited to low income families, the elderly and people with disabilities. However, in Vienna approximately 62% of the residents live in some type of social housing properties that include green spaces and amenities that foster community amongst its residents*. Housing is an issue that affects many in our city. Growing up in Puerto Rico, my parents struggled to keep a home for years, thus we hoped around the city. Both of my parents grew up very poor, my mom grew up in public housing and my dad in a house with no running water. But they had opportunities, including affordable education, that allowed them to climb out of poverty. But when you are part of the working-class there are no safety nets. Thus, to me, this issue is personal! No one in our city should be too poor to afford a home. My dream is for all Philadelphians to live a dignified life based on the provision of a stable home. And I will work tirelessly to achieve that dream!