Philly YIMBY | Zoning Tracker

Philly YIMBY (short for 'Yes In My Backyard') is a new initiative from 5th Square, Philly's urbanist PAC, to build grassroots support for infill housing, with the goal of increasing housing availability, affordability, and choice.  As a first step, we're rolling out a Zoning Tracker blog with zoning appeals for urbanist-friendly housing (5+ units, mixed-use, low parking,) along with a semi-weekly newsletter with the latest proposals. Sign up for our newsletter and meeting alerts for projects in your area. Send tips about RCO meetings, project information, and neighborhood chatter to Follow Philly YIMBY on Twitter and join our Facebook group. Continue reading

West Chestnut bike lane problems, Center City's disappearing parking lots, Camden waterfront at DAG

The West Chestnut bike lane is great, but it has some real problems the City needs to fix. Read about this issue and more in this week's 5th Square newsletter. Continue reading

5th Square calls for action from City, SEPTA as ridership plummets 7% in 2016

Ridership on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) fell 7.1% in 2016, driven by a sharp decline in bus ridership, according to data from the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database (NTD). SEPTA bus ridership is at its lowest level in five years, falling 13 million trips last year, roughly 14 fewer trips per bus rider. The city’s rail and trolley lines also fell by 8 million trips.  Continue reading

Petition: Say No to Philly Council's Planter Power Grab

3rd District Councilmember Jannie Blackwell thinks you should have to get a letter of support from City Council for that planter in front of your house. We’re here to tell you how backwards this is. Continue reading

Our 2016 in Review

We took some big steps in just our second full year, and we want to share these successes with you in gratitude for all of your support. First, it's worth highlighting the most important accomplishment: urbanists are now recognized as a powerful and growing political constituency in Philadelphia. We can't claim total credit for this, of course, but it's exactly what happens when people get organized around shared interests and push for change. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney Issues Vision Zero Executive Order

Today Mayor Kenney issued an executive order that established an Office of Complete Streets as well as a Vision Zero Task Force that will be charged with identifying opportunities to eliminate traffic deaths by 2030.  Continue reading

Stand up to Big Litter in Harrisburg

Plastic bags are one of the biggest sources of litter on our streets and in our rivers, and local officials need more tools to reduce plastic bag litter, not fewer. But state lawmakers are rushing through a bill that's expected to pass that would make it harder for cities to reign in plastic bag waste and keep their streets clean. Continue reading

Goodbye, Duckboats

Ride The Ducks has terminated local operations in Philadelphia effective October 5, owing largely to high insurance premiums following a number of crashes involving pedestrians. Duckboat vehicles were designed for WWII supply transport, have extreme visibility issues, and were never intended for operation on city streets. We'd like these dangerous vehicles gone forever. Continue reading

Good Riddance, Free Parking Promos!

Earlier today, the City and the Philadelphia Parking Authority announced they will no longer continue to offer free parking promotions in Center City on Wednesday evenings and in Old City on Friday evenings.  Continue reading

5th Square Joins Vision Zero Alliance

5th Square is proud to join a broad and impressive group of organizations calling for a safer transportation network and the elimination of all traffic deaths through an aggressive and comprehensive strategy known as Vision Zero. Continue reading

Philly Needs a Safer South Broad

Every Philadelphian deserves access to a safer South Broad Street. Whether you live or work on the street or simply travel through it on foot, by bus, by bike, or by car, South Broad can be made safer and more welcoming for all by enforcing existing parking regulations and by putting the median space to better use as either a landscaped median, a protected multi-use path, or some combination of both. Sign our petition to Mayor Kenney for a safer South Broad. Continue reading

5th Square Endorses Terry Tracy, Andrew Stober for Council At-Large

Philadelphia’s urbanist PAC endorses Republican Terry Tracy and Independent Andrew Stober for at-large City Council in the November 3rd general election. Continue reading

Introducing David Curtis as Our Interim Chair

  5th Square co-founder David Curtis has begun serving as Interim Chair.   Continue reading

5th Square, Committee of Seventy, Philadelphia 3.0, and Philly Set Go submit records request for information about City Commissioner Clark

  Four civic leadership organizations committed to fair elections and good governance filed requests for information about City Commissioner Anthony Clark on Tuesday. Continue reading

Leadership Changes at The 5th Square

Philadelphia - Please join me in welcoming David Curtis as the new Interim Chair of The 5th Square. As one of the four original co-founders of our PAC, David has shown an unfailingly positive attitude and leadership style we've certainly appreciated as an organization. He is formerly the organization's Treasurer, a role fellow co-founder Jake Liefer, will now take on. Both David and Jake bring passion, vision, persistence and drive to The 5th Square. I look forward to watching them lead our PAC into the future. Continue reading

Candidate Questionnaire: Andrew Stober, City Council At Large

Earlier this year we posted candidate questionnaire responses in advance of our 5th Square endorsements and the May 19th Primary. Our candidate questionnaire was a way for voters to put City Council and Mayoral candidates on the record regarding issues we are advocating for. Educating voters on urban issues is one of our goals as a PAC. Continue reading

Good News: Councilwoman Cindy Bass Leveraging Vehicle Registration Fees to Fund Vision Zero Legislation

Vision Zero, the international movement to reduce and eliminate vehicle-related deaths and injuries, is finally coming to Philadelphia. Councilwoman City Bass of the 8th District representing Northwest Philadelphia will be introducing legislation to not only acknowledge growing consensus on the problem of traffic violence, that this past weekend claimed the lives of two young people on North Broad Street, but to properly fund the effort to build better infrastructure to help prevent these tragedies. Vision Zero is one of The 5th Square's items in our 12 point platform. We are delighted to hear this news. Continue reading

Schuylkill Seeing Green: How Park Space Supports Development, Our Schools & Our Health

One Riverside could be the easily name of a new luxury condominium tower on the western edge of Manhattan. Coincidentally it is. Just add a “Park” to the end of the name and you’ll find new developments like this popping up along more established park space like Riverside Park in Manhattan or the High Line further down the western end of the island. Hudson Yards is the capstone of billions of dollars in investment along once disused elevated rail line; The High Line that former mayor Rudy Giuliani once sought to tear down. Continue reading

Transit: 30th Street Station District Should Be an Integral Part of the City

The 30th Street Station District Plan Partners will hold an open house at 30th Street Station this evening from 4:00 to 7:00 where they will present concept diagrams for capping the rail yards between the Station, Drexel University, and the Schuylkill River.  Needless to say, this is an enormous opportunity to create a new walkable urban neighborhood in immediate proximity to Philadelphia’s biggest transportation hub.  The diagrams show, as best as a top-down view can, variations of gridded urban streetscapes with tall buildings. Continue reading

The Political Importance of Andrew Stober's Entry Into The Council-At-Large Race

Last week PlanPhilly broke news that Andrew Stober, former Chief of Staff at MOTU (Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities), will be running as an Independent for Council At-Large in this year's November 3 general municipal election. This presents a unique opportunity for Stober and supporters of The 5th Square. Continue reading

Dump Bill Greenlee

If you want to maximize your livable streets vote this Tuesday, the best thing you can do is leave At-Large City Councilman Bill Greenlee off your ballot. Continue reading

Candidate Blogging: Tom Wyatt on Growing Our Way Out of Poverty Through Property Tax and Business Tax Reform

Author: Thomas Wyatt When we talk about Philadelphia now, there’s optimism. At the same time, our schools are desperately under-resourced, with a graduation rate just under 65% and our unemployment rate is well above the national average. If you’re Black or Latino, you’re twice as unlikely to find a job. To break the cycle of poverty, we need good jobs. To get good jobs, we need great schools. And in Philadelphia, to get great schools in our communities, we start with fully funding them. Continue reading

Candidate Blogging: Paul Steinke on Getting Assessments & Land Value Tax Right

Author: Paul Steinke As any Philadelphia homeowner knows after Mayor Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI) was implemented, our property assessment process was in dire need of repair. Property assessments determine the amount of property taxes each property owner – whether residential or commercial – should pay. We need a system that is transparent, accurate, up to date, and efficient. I propose four changes that would accomplish these goals. Continue reading

Read the 2015 Candidates' Answers to the 5th Square Questionnaire

Last week we rolled out our endorsements for Mayor and City Council.We endorsed Jim Kenney for Mayor; Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Sherrie Cohen, Helen Gym, Paul Steinke, and Tom Wyatt for Democratic Council At-Large; Terry Tracy and Matt Wolfe for Republican Council At-Large; and Ori Feibush for the 2nd District Council seat. Continue reading

Our Endorsement Process & How We Determined Our Slate of 5th Square Candidates

The last few weeks have seen a plethora of endorsements for mayor and city council from a variety of sources. Unions, newspapers, and other PACs are weighing in on who they think is best equipped to lead us to 2019 and potentially beyond. Though these organizations have provided rationale on why or why not they are endorsing various candidates, they often have not provided much detail in the process. Continue reading

Candidate Blogging: Anthony Hardy Williams On Encouraging Philadelphians To Use Public Transit

Two weeks ago we sent The 5th Square 2015 Candidate Questionnaire to all candidates for City Council and Mayor. In that questionnaire we gave the option for candidates to reach out directly to voters via our blog. 9 different topics were offered. Below please find Anthony Hardy Williams' response to Topic 3. For the list of other topics offered and the entirety of Williams' responses to our Candidate Questionnaire, please see the link to the PDF at the bottom of this post. Please Note: posting of Candidate Questionnaire responses does not constitute a 5th Square endorsement. Candidate endorsements will be released later today.   Continue reading

Candidate Blogging: Doug Oliver On Repurposing Street Space to Better Meet Transportation Needs

Two weeks ago we sent The 5th Square 2015 Candidate Questionnaire to all candidates for City Council and Mayor. In that questionnaire we gave the option for candidates to reach out directly to voters via our blog. 9 different topics were offered. Below please find Doug Oliver's response to Topic 4. For the list of other topics offered and the entirety of Oliver's responses to our Candidate Questionnaire, please see the link to the PDF at the bottom of this post. Please Note: posting of Candidate Questionnaire responses does not constitute a 5th Square endorsement. Candidate endorsements will be released tomorrow afternoon.   Continue reading

Candidate Blogging: Jim Kenney on Accurately Assessing Land Value

Last week we sent The 5th Square 2015 Candidate Questionnaire to all candidates for City Council and Mayor. In that questionnaire we gave the option for candidates to reach out directly to voters via our blog. 9 different topics were offered. Below please find Jim Kenney's response to Topic 5. For the list of other topics offered and the entirety of Kenney's responses to our Candidate Questionnaire, please see the link to the PDF at the bottom of this post. Please Note: posting of Candidate Questionnaire responses does not constitute a 5th Square endorsement. Candidate endorsements will be released at a later date.   Continue reading

Candidate Blogging: Nelson Diaz on Encouraging Philadelphians to use Public Transit

Last week we sent The 5th Square 2015 Candidate Questionnaire to all candidates for City Council and Mayor. In that questionnaire we gave the option for candidates to reach out directly to voters via our blog. 9 different topics were offered. Below please find Nelson Diaz's response to Topic 3. For the list of other topics offered and the entirety of Diaz's responses to our Candidate Questionnaire, please see the link to the PDF at the bottom of this post. Please Note: posting of Candidate Questionnaire responses does not constitute a 5th Square endorsement. Candidate endorsements will be released at a later date. Continue reading

The 5th Square Candidate Questionnaire Has Been Released and is Due by May 1st

The 5th Square's main mission as an organization is to bring about safer, cleaner streets, well-maintained parks, more and better transportation choices, and smarter land use as means to a more livable Philadelphia. As a means to achieve these policy goals, we will be supporting political candidates for city and state office who share our values and sign on to our platform. Our city has made a lot of progress during the Nutter administration, but we need to elect many more smart, progressive, urban leaders to public office to achieve our full potential. Continue reading

Zoning & Parking: How Obsession With Convenient Parking Financially Undermines Our Schools & Our City

A prime corner at 9th & Wharton sits as an open lot. Around it, reminders of Philadelphia's past lingers. On the walls of buildings flanking the site, a faded Frankie Avalon and Chubby Checker loom. 60 years ago when these two were popular, a church once stood here. For the last 30 years it's only been some grass, a poorly constructed wooden bulkhead and some posts nailed in the ground. Continue reading

Stand Up For Transporation: A Challenge to All City Council & Mayoral Candidates

Transportation choice and quality are something that effect us every day as Philadelphians. Though nearly all of us walk throughout the city, there are a number of other choices we can make as consumers and citizens. Some of us chose to bike, while others take some form of SEPTA, be it regional rail, trolley or bus. And still many of us continue to drive in our private cars. Car ownership is expensive, costing on average at least $10,000 per year between car payments, insurance and fuel. Yet our elected officials here in Philadelphia, already some of the most handsomely paid in the nation, get an added perk. Despite the perennial budget crises affecting the city, you and I as citizens of Philadelphia, are paying for their cars. Continue reading

Mark Squilla fakes neighborhood support for 3D billboards

For the past several months, District 1 Councilman Mark Squilla has been waging a lonely campaign to help his friends in the billboard industry undercut Philadelphia's digital billboard regulations. Continue reading

Plastic Bags, Our Perennial Trash Problem and How We Find Revenue to Fix It

For many Philadelphians, street trash is a relentless problem. While our suburban counterparts mow their lawn on a Saturday morning, Philadelphians spend their time sweeping discarded bottles, cheetos, and plastic bags outside their homes. Even after dedicated residents clean up their blocks, we still contend with unkept littered blocks and storm drains and riverbanks that remain perennially trash strewn. It is time to recognize that our piecemeal, ad-hoc cleanup efforts have not and will not get us to the clean and thriving city that Philadelphians deserve. Continue reading

How Our Platform Benefits Low-Income Neighborhoods

On Friday, we took a close look at Governing’s “Gentrification in America” report as well as Citified’s “Insane Surge in Philadelphia Gentrification” response. We discovered the numbers and conclusions don’t stand up to scrutiny and then argued that the greater problem in Philadelphia is the condition of many of the city's low-income neighborhoods, where poverty is increasing and population is decreasing. Today we discuss how our platform can help lead to stabilization and even economic growth in the city's low-income areas. Continue reading

Crunching The Numbers: A Closer Look At Gentrification & Displacement in Philadelphia

On Tuesday, Philadelphia Magazine’s Citified ran a piece titled “Insane Surge in Philadelphia Gentrification.” Since its inception at the beginning of this year, Citified has done a great job of covering important issues in the city, but this particular piece misses an opportunity to discuss some very serious and ongoing problems in Philadelphia. Continue reading

Happy Presidents Day? Don't You Mean Happy Bicycle Day?

The common refrain about American culture is that we are wedded to our cars. Much of the culture we associate with America is post-war culture born of mass suburbanization beginning in the Eisenhower administration of the early 1950s. Car manufacturers used their clout with our elected officials to transform streets once the public domain of commerce and leisure, to traffic conduits alone. Terms like jaywalking were born of a necessity for car companies to sell their vision of personal independence at the expense of our public space. Continue reading

A Unifying Platform For Labor & Business

Earlier today, we discussed how our platform serves the interests of every Philadelphian. The power of our platform lies in its ability to bridge the divides that Philadelphians often focus on, divides which too often distract both sides away from what should be achievable, shared goals. Continue reading

Why Our Platform Is Not 'New Philadelphian'

Over the past decade or so, there has been much ink spilled on the idea of ‘New Philadelphians’ vs ‘Old Philadelphians.’ Be it politics or neighborhoods, news articles pose New Philadelphians as the under-35 college-educated residents bent towards bikes and popup beer gardens. Typically living in Center City and surrounding neighborhoods, these Young Philadelphians moved from the suburbs or another city to be here. Continue reading

Bicycle Coalition's Sarah Clark Stuart Talks Vision Zero & Their Platform

One of The 5th Square's items in our 2015 Platform is Vision Zero. Sarah Clark Stuart from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia talks about the importance of this initiative. They've also included it in their Better Mobility Platform. It's about saving lives and money. It's critical we stop ignoring traffic violence.

London on the Importance of a Protected Bike Lane Network Throughout The City

One of our 2015 Platform items we are asking Philly's political leadership to sign on to is the creation of Protected Bike Lane arterial network throughout the city of Philadelphia. Cycling addresses so many important issues for our city including transit choice, safer streets, improved public space, reducing congestion, improving public health and addressing sustainability for current and future generations. Continue reading

Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Alex Doty Talks About the Importance of Vision Zero, a 5th Square 2015 Platform Item

The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia has been pushing for safer streets for years. In the lead up to the 2015 primary, Executive Director Alex Doty sits down with PW to talk the importance of Vision Zero and how an engaged electorate is crucial to ensuring we have a City Council that pays attention to and addresses these issues. Continue reading

Why We Cybersquatted City Council and How We Intend To Use Those Domains For Voter Education

As reported in Citified yesterday, before The 5th Square launched we registered the domains of many of our current City Council members.  Our plans for these domains are not trivial. As the election nears, we plan to issue scorecards for candidates and provide analysis of their records on the issues our supporters are concerned with – more transportation choices, safer streets, better public spaces, and higher quality governance. Candidate domain names will direct users to the relevant score cards. In many cases, we will be filling these pages with more substantive information than the candidates themselves might have, had they bothered to register them. Continue reading

Thank You For Helping Us Raise Our First $5000

This is a quick note of appreciation to everyone who helped us raise our first $5000. We officially launched The 5th Square only two weeks ago. In that time we have been overwhelmed with positive reinforcement from those around us. The donors who helped us reach our first fundraising goal are individuals here in Philadelphia and beyond who believe we can change our city for the better by advocating for policies that matter to all of our daily lives. Continue reading

Tim Wisniewski, Philly's Chief Data Officer, On the Importance of Open Data

Tim Wisniewski, Philly's Chief Data Officer, is profiled by Philly on the importance of open data. Just a reminder, it is not guaranteed our next mayor will believe the same thing. That's why we're asking leaders to formally write open data guarantees into our city charter. Read more here.    Continue reading

Safer Streets for People: Why We're Doing This

Most people become involved in politics through a single issue that they care about on a deeply personal level. Absent that human connection, the political advocacy grind can sometimes feel a lot like plain old work. Sometimes others reach out to us with their own personal stories that provide moments of clarity, moments that remind us – at the most fundamental level – why we are doing this. Continue reading

Want a Better City? Elect New Leaders to City Council

Philadelphia Magazine's Holly Otterbein gives a helpful overview of candidates who have so far declared their run for City Council at large positions. She also looks at incumbents and suggests some vulnerabilities new faces can capitalize upon.

What Do PACs Do? How Will My Money Be Used? An Overview

Yesterday on Twitter, our friend Alex Hillman asked us what makes a political action committee (PAC) an effective way to accomplish political goals. Good question. Continue reading

The Importance of Open Data for Philly Profiled in Next City

Next City takes an in-depth look at open data and the implications it has for creating a better-governed, progressive Philadelphia. The article gives a helpful overview of the legacy Mayor Nutter will be leaving behind once he leaves office and highlights the fact that an open data future for the city, for all its advantages, is not guaranteed in the next mayoral administration. Continue reading

Why Are You Named The 5th Square?

William Penn's original 1682 plan for Philadelphia centered around five public squares. With this design, he aimed to create an inclusive and prosperous society. Rittenhouse, Logan, Franklin, and Washington Squares compromise four of Penn's five original squares. Continue reading