Read At Large Democratic candidate Eryn Santamoor'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: Eryn Santamoor
I’m running for City Council At-Large because I believe Philadelphia can aim higher and achieve better results for our residents, businesses and visitors. I have spent my career as a city management professional, working to ensure our cities have sustainable futures and programs that meet people’s needs. I believe I am a councilmember who is prepared to manage our everyday issues, while also planning for our future.
As a candidate for Council, I’m committed to better services, addressing substance use disorder through family treatment programs, and flooding our schools with counselors and case workers to better support our children who face insurmountable challenges. But, as it relates to this organization, I’m committed to: 1) investing in automated, semi-automated and containerized trash collection systems - both above ground and underground where possible; 2) zoning changes that can increase density, socio-economic diversity, and reduce the need for parking; 3) supporting the aspirations and direction of Vision Zero; and 4) establishing transportation options to bridge commercial and residential corridors around the City. Throughout all of these initiatives, I believe in providing real-time data so that all residents may have an informed and engaged community that participates in the planning and land use decisions of Philadelphia.
We need holistic policies in Philadelphia that realize the interconnectivity of our social, physical and financial challenges. By strengthening our support systems, providing better services that meet our budget constraints, and bridging our communities, I believe our economy will grow with a more progressive, inclusive, and innovative attitude.
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?
With continued input from our community, and in accordance with some of the work already performed through the High Injury Network data collection process, City Council should help the City to identify and prioritize high-traffic pedestrian corridors and then hold the Mayor and Managing Director’s office accountable for ensuring these areas are properly signed, and provide the appropriate curb cuts, on-street markings (preferably painted walking paths), and timed pedestrian signal lights. The Streets Traffic and Engineering Division should provide weekly/monthly performance updates on the completion of the activities to City Council. My goal is to ensure a more fair and transparent planning process that equally weighs community and City expertise to make Philadelphia’s streets safer.
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?
As stated earlier, performance monitoring is key for City Council - we cannot manage what we do not measure. In order to hold the Kenney Administration to our highest standards, we must set goals of performance, consistently measure that performance, and make appropriate financial and legislative adjustments when necessary, in order to meet our collective expectations and goals. Therefore, I am committed to setting up these types of systems and approaches to manage for results. I also believe City Council should be transparent when making decisions and generally restrain from holding up progress in moving these types of initiatives forward. With this transparency I hope we will continue to lead a community engagement process that is responsive to changing neighborhood needs and priorities. To that end, I would also look to support and give visibility to the Complete Streets Director.
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: https://www.streetfilms.org/daylighting-make-your-crosswalks-safer/
Daylighting has been successfully implemented in other cities such as San Francisco and Portland (although data is new, it is trending in the right direction) and should be used in especially targeted areas (like Roosevelt Boulevard) to ensure drivers and pedestrians have clearer lines-of-sight at intersections. I would support the implementation of daylighting and once elected, would be committed to reviewing the prioritization of intersections in concert with our communities and stakeholders, and then would evaluate the budget appropriation needed to fulfill identified priorities. For purposes of financing these efforts – above and beyond what may be provided for in the City’s budget – I would explore additional resources from our State and Federal colleagues as Philadelphia may provide the rest of the Commonwealth and nation with much needed data on best practices in traffic death reduction strategies.
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?
Philadelphia’s budget shortfalls are largely driven by a lack of efficiency in our services, a poorer resident population, and a slower economy than some of our peer cities. As a Councilwoman, I will focus much of my attention on ensuring our operations are working as efficiently as possible to free up resources for more strategic investment in programs that work. We know that Mayor Kenney’s Vision Zero initiative can work to drive down traffic related deaths, so I am committed to investing in that program as well as repaving our streets with more sustainable and durable materials. If elected, I will review and evaluate all of the City’s spending needs and make reasonable and transparent decisions regarding funding priorities.
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?
I believe we can do so much more than just street sweeping to clean and maintain our neighborhoods! If elected, waste management will be one of my priority issues. I believe we can invest in new technology that prevents trash from getting onto our streets in the first place. But, until then, street sweeping is a near-term solution to cleaning up our streets and I would support this activity in areas where this is needed.
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?
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 Philadelphia provide increased funding to SEPTA, however, I would want partner counties to also provide funding commensurate with our local investment. While Philadelphia's investment is lower relative to comparable cities, it's important to recognize why. With a struggling lower income population, we need to focus on raising up our residents to ensure our economy is growing for all, and then we will see more opportunities for revenue generation and investment in our transit system locally. This is why having city management experts in City Council is a vital component of moving this City forward.
However, for purposes of raising additional revenue to support local transit funding in the near-term, I would like the opportunity to first review the City's fee structure regarding all on-street parking permits, including those for residents, businesses, contractors, consulates and all other organizations. I would also explore marketing opportunities for increasing overall general use of the transit system and studying the behavioral economics around why more residents avoid transit as a primary mode of transportation – especially to and from work. A more optimized transit system should result in a direct increase in revenue.
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 Yes
- Free transfers between buses, trolleys, and subways, funded by the City Yes
- Stop consolidation to speed up buses Yes
Other: The increase in ride sharing has also contributed to delays on bus lines, which suggests we need to better manage for the growth in this new transit mode. We hesitate to endorse automated enforcement, considering the disproportionate burden administrative fees and fines have on the most vulnerable socioeconomic populations.
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, I would be happy to review potential funding sources for a pilot program to determine whether or not this enhances ridership and reduces congestion during especially rush hour (i.e. school transportation); I would look to our regional partners to assist in the funding of said pilot, including our local foundations and research institutions.
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 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?
City Council should be helpful in soliciting and organizing broader community input, determine areas of opportunity, assist with community buy-in at the onset of change, and help to consistently review the efficiency and effectiveness of the SEPTA busing system and/or network. Given the high proportion of elderly, disabled, and car-dependent commuters we have in low-income neighborhoods, we should be careful not to burden these areas for the convenience of other neighborhoods.
7. Do you support Council President Darrell Clarke's Charter change proposal to create a new class of unarmed officers to enforce traffic violations?
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 believe Philadelphia should increase its multi-family development activities in locations where an increase in density makes sense (e.g., greater Center City neighborhoods). While I do not have an exact answer with regards to the appropriate percentage, 13% is too low. I will review this issue with future City Councilmembers, our community partners, neighborhood associations, planning professionals and stakeholders as part of a transparent conversation on the appropriate percentage. Philadelphia has a great deal of housing stock in need of repair and rehabilitation, and it is important we also focus on preserving the existing housing stock for our current and future residents while considering the needs of our most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
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?
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?
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 affordability needs to be looked at in larger context with job and wage growth being a preeminent piece of the equation, I would like to see more effort to help renters by looking at rent stabilization programs or otherwise. Programs that help homeowners stay in their houses by capping annual real estate taxes for some are promising and we should monitor and manage them so they serve their intended purpose. Additionally, there are efforts being made to prevent eviction and foreclosure based on unreasonable cause – this work being done at the City and community level is one of the more effective stabilizers for our low income households and I support these efforts.