1st District: Daniel Orsino Response to 5th Square Questionnaire

Read 1st District Republican candidate Daniel Orsino'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: Daniel "Duke" Orsino

Candidate Introduction

I'm a blue-collar worker from South Philadelphia and member of the LGBTQ community. I would like to give the constituents of District 1 the tools necessary to prosper. I would like to bring real change to the City of Philadelphia by fighting for education reform, income equality and gay rights.

Additionally, I am a firm believer that the lower class should not be penalized or taxed for the sole reason of being poor. Duke promotes the elimination of wage taxes to people who are struggling to earn their living.

I am aware of the challenges and the issues that the city of Philadelphia has in terms of traffic and pedestrian-friendly spaces. As well as the slow pace of action on behalf of the city of Philadelphia to implement progressive policies for a more unified and modern city.


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?

I believe that any sort of blocking of sidewalks or crossing is unacceptable. I believe that the penalties for blocking and/or creating an unsafe condition for pedestrian traffic should be increased to create deterrence. Additionally, I believe that there should be a "buffer zone" also known as daylighting, in which no vehicle can park within a certain distance of a crosswalk.

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 believe that we can do better. Vision Zero is a fantastic idea, but it's implementation has been slow. I believe we should be making its goal more of a priority, especially because the city's population is expected to reach the 2 million mark by the end of the next decade. New residential building construction should provide off street parking to better unclog our streets. We should also be placing bike racks on new properties to encourage bike ownership. New public spaces and buildings should be designed with pedestrian mobility in mind and allow people to avoid street crossings altogether. We also should also strictly enforce no parking zones within 15-20 feet of intersections (daylighting) to increase driver/pedestrian visibility. Finally, I believe a massive expansion of public transportation would decrease traffic congestion. Its a green alternative that would decrease personal vehicle use, and as a result traffic fatalities.

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/

I absolutely support daylighting, especially in heavily trafficked pedestrian areas. these intersections should be day-lighted by any means available. I think we should implement this policy rapidly as to correct as many dangerous intersections as possible. if mobilized properly, Public Works should be able to daylight multiple crossings per year.

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. This is important not only because dirty streets are an eyesore, they are a public health hazard.

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: https://bicyclecoalition.org/lawsuit-takes-on-city-council-bike-lane-ordinance/



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?

I would like to see SEPTA's funding increased but not just by government allocation of funds but also by private investment. It is important to know that SEPTA reaches other counties which would also need to support efforts to expand 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 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

Other: More rigorous feedback and public engagement sessions on improving bus ridership. Free fares for children to promote lifelong ridership

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 absolutely.

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?

Further reading: http://planphilly.com/articles/2018/06/21/overhauling-its-bus-network-may-be-on-septa-s-schedule-soon

Overall I believe this is a good idea, however I am concerned that the added transfers and stop consolidation (which adds to travel time) may actually in some cases discourage people from using the system. I think we should carefully consult SEPTA and transit experts from outside our area that have tried similar actions to get an idea of what the long term effects of such actions may be.

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: http://www2.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/philadelphia-traffic-pedestrian-bicycle-safety-police-darrell-clarke-20180920.html


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?

13% is unacceptable. People need places to live. The city's population is expected to reach the 2 million mark by the end of the next decade. If we don't increase this, we are both denying people a human right and stifling ourselves as a city economically. I would personally like to double the number, but I'd prefer to consult a few experts before making a decision that could have long term effects on people.

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?

ADU's serves an important purpose. I think where to permit them depends upon two things; needs and how the community feels. I think engagement with local civic associations is always a safe way to determine both.

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?

Overall I think we are on the right track, but need more programs and policies that encourage economic diversity in our neighborhoods. I think we need to do more to provide affordable housing to our residents. I also think we should be considering exempting our most disadvantaged residents from property and wage taxes because they have paid far more than their fair share to society. I also believe in exempting long-term residents living in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods from the rapidly increasing property taxes. Their property taxes should remain at the same level prior to newer construction and residents. I feel that it is only fair and it will give them time to catch up economically. The city should also further examine rent control options in such neighborhoods and elsewhere.