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 Technical.ly 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

Eyes On The Street Advocating for Two Of Our 2015 Platform Items

The 5th Square has created a 13 point platform to help drive dialogue and change in the forthcoming 2015 primaries and beyond. This platform is primarily focused on public space, transportation choice and governance issues that have gone too long ignored for Philadelphia. Ashley Hahn from PlanPhilly's Eyes On The Street blog recently compiled a 2015 Civic Wish List of items she'd like to see for our city's future.  Continue reading

Have You Read Our Platform? Then Take Our Survey!

Have you taken a look at our 2015 Platform for the offices of Mayor & City Council? Great! Please fill out our brief survey and share your thoughts. Continue reading

Follow Us on Facebook & Twitter

For the latest from The 5th Square, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.   Continue reading

Welcome to The 5th Square, Powered By You

Philadelphia needs more and better transportation and housing choices. We need more transit-accessible housing, and more jobs, retail, offices and co-working spaces close to where people live. We also need more high quality public spaces and green spaces to make our city a more social, healthy, and beautiful place. To get these things, we need leaders on City Council with the right vision. Continue reading