4th District: Ronald Adams Response to 5th Square Questionnaire

Read 4th District Democratic candidate Ronald Adams' responses to the 5th Square 2019 City Council Candidate Questionnaire. Visit our 2019 City Council Campaign page for more candidate questionnaire responses.

Candidate Name: Ronald Adams

Candidate Introduction

I am the operations manager for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA) in Philadelphia. I am running for City Council because I believe the people deserve more of a say than they currently have. Developers and business interest donate a lot of money in Philadelphia; however, I want to do more to re-engage the public. I want City Council to be accessible to their constituents and make decisions with their input.

My approach to urban land use is to increase density and affordability. We must move away from single family zoning near our city's commercial corridors and invest in more multi-family housing.

As far as transportation, my approach would be to improve bike lanes in the city and encourage more use of public transportation.

Finally, I feel these issues need to be framed as a way to combat poverty and help with the environment!


Streets

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?

Work with PPA to increase ticketing for this issue, along with more signage. It's a safety concern and the problem is enforcement. People know they will get fined for parking in front of a fire hydrant. They aren't too worried about curb cuts. That can be changed.

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 don't like the progress because the simple things haven't been taken care of. PAVE THE STREETS! Safety isn't helped by potholes and avoiding pot holes. Stop lights can be synched to help with traffic. The cross walk and street dividing lines can be properly painted. Better signage in the high injury netwok can be undertaken.

Creative solutions can take time, and I get that. However, the city isn't doing enough to grab the low hanging fruit!

I would use my position to press for the simple fixes to be taken first!

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/

Yes. 

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?

Yes.

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. The streets needs to be cleaned more often, and if density is going to increase, the city needs to make this a priority now.

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/

Yes.


Transportation

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, but I will first look at SEPTA's budget and revenue for the past five years. SEPTA is a regional service. I cannot commit to increasing Philadelphia's funding of SEPTA without examining how SEPTA spends the money they have now.

The Philadelphia Delegation at the State House has a platform this year addressing poverty. Part of their four plank plan is increased funding for infrastructure and transportation in the City, which would be a great revenue source. Other than that, I would suggest using revenue from increased ticketing of people blocking curbside cutouts.

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.

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?

Yes.

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

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

I think City Council should support the plan! Ridership is falling because the current system is outdated and ineffective. The main issue comes down to this quote,

"We want Council to think about, in general, ‘How do I feel about a better network for my constituents – about my constituents being able to get to more jobs and more opportunities?’ Walker added. “And how does that weigh against someone being angry because we're changing the bus route? That's the actual trade-off.”

People don't like change, and that's understandable. But part of leadership is being able to explain the greater good. This plan improves speed and usability. City Council needs to study the plan and then support it.

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

Yes.


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 do not. They aren't building anymore land, so the best way to increase density and manage cost is through multifamily housing. Although 13% of land being covered by multifamily zoning sounds low, I am not sure about what percentage of land being covered is right. However, I do know that roughly 23 percent of new construction in Philadelphia is multifamily. A target number over 40 percent in the next 10 years would be a good benchmark.

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?

No. I have concerns about areas not near subways. Center city is not the same as Winnfield or Manayunk.

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?

These units are usually attached to single family homes with bigger yards and lots than you usually find most areas of the city. I think areas like District 4, where I reside, have more space for ADUs. However, I am not sure there is a great appetite from home owners for them.

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?

Yes.

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?

The cities affordable housing package is a good start, but more can be done. Philadelphia is building too many sprawling McMansions in the city. I would like to see a cap on the 10 year abatement at say 450k and a decrease in single family home zoning. Changes to zoning and the tax abatement would not only keep prices down, but help increase revenue for the city.

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