Newsletter: 🚉 The Future of Regional Rail | 🏘️ The Rise of the Zoning 'Overlay' | 💰 Land Value Tax Event

Weekly Newsletter, Issue 135

5TH SQUARE IN THE NEWS - 🚉 The Future of Regional Rail

The Inquirer's Pat Madej poses the existential question facing SEPTA's regional rail system -- Without commuters, what will happen to SEPTA Regional Rail? 

 TIM TAI / Inquirer Staff Photographer

Citing 5th Square's ongoing efforts to modernize the operations and policies of Regional Rail to appeal better to transit riders, a pending DVRPC study, and interviewing an esteemed panel of Transportation Experts, the article makes a strong case for remaking our system.

Mimi Sheller, professor of sociology at Drexel University and director of its Center for Mobilities Research and Policy is quoted: “To be frank, the history behind the separation of our Regional Rail system from the rest of the public transit system is one that is grounded in racism... It’s grounded in Philadelphia’s history of transportation inequity and segregation, and we really need to work to overcome that.”

Help us bring about these important changes to our Regional Rail system 👉 Sign our petition to Restore Service & Lower Fares on Regional Rail.

For more background, read our op-ed on this issue published by WHYY's Plan Philly, "Regional Rail is on life support. Essential workers can bring it back."


5TH SQUARE IN THE NEWS - 🏘️ The Rise of the Zoning 'Overlay

 Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

Ryan Briggs of WHYY's PlanPhilly writes of community organizations and councilmembers increasingly using zoning overlays as a tool to shape the character of their neighborhoods through Councilmanic Prerogative-driven changes instead of the regular planning process.

5th Square Organizer, Ben She is quoted:“It’s very concerning... It speaks to how politicized the zoning code process is, even after the 2012 zoning code rewrite.”

What's concerning about this trend is when overlays are used to limit development in already-expensive, transit-accessible neighborhoods, excluding renters and prospective owners who can only afford smaller units.

The trend toward more and more bespoke overlays, going around the regular zoning remapping process, also undermines our ability to make citywide housing and planning policies to impact the big-picture issues that matter for housing and transportation. Councilmanic Prerogative, spot-zoning, and excessive overlays will only exacerbate Philadelphia's housing affordability problems by limiting the housing choices and driving up prices for renters and first-time home-buyers.


Tuesday, February 23, 1 PM

The Center for Property Tax Reform & 5th Square | REBUILD. REENVISION. REFORM. How a Land Value Tax Would Impact Philadelphia

COVID-19 has impacted everyone from all corners of the globe. However, Philadelphia – already struggling with issues ranging from gentrification, to blight, to regressive taxation – has been dealt a serious blow to its economy and tax base due to the pandemic. Can a simple reimagining of one of the City’s most familiar taxes make a difference to help keep long-time residents in their homes, encourage private investment, and shore up the city's tax base in the time of social distancing and beyond?

Join The Center for Property Tax Reform and 5th Square for a FREE webinar exploring how shifting from the traditional property tax toward a land value tax could be an economic vaccine for the City of Brotherly Love.



Monday, February 1, 3:00 PM
Transportation Trends for the Post-COVID-19 Era
Fishtown and Kensington-area readers, tune in Monday for a transportation forum hosted by the Fishtown District BID about recent transportation trends and initiatives happening in this part of the city. Speakers will present from PennDOT, Streets, the Parking Authority, SEPTA, the Planning Commission, and former Rep. John Taylor.

Tuesday, Feb 2, 12:00 PM
Cease Fire PA | Empowering Local Communities to End Gun Violence
For years, the General Assembly has failed to address the epidemic of gun violence while handcuffing local officials from taking action to save the lives of their constituents. In the fall of 2020, CeaseFirePA Education Fund joined with the CIty of Philadelphia and survivors to sue the state for creating a danger for Pennsylvanians.

Join Scranton Mayor Cognetti, CeaseFirePA's Executive Director, and the Public Interest Law Center's Ben Geffen for a discussion about the dangers of preemption, the legal path to safer communities, and what local officials can do to address the violence in their communities.

Friday, January 29 to Sunday, February 7
BCGP | 20th Annual Bicycle Film Festival
The 20th Anniversary of Bicycle Film Festival is going virtual! BFF Philadelphia includes a Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) Select Shorts Program (90 min runtime) as well as a panel discussion hosted by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Various Dates & Times through February 17
Turn PA Blue | Winter Speaker Series
Join Turn PA Blue on this winter for weekly sessions on a range of topics, including local races, courts, redistricting, policy updates, data/mapping, and more. These conversations are opportunities to come together to listen, learn, plan, and continue our work for a better future.

Various Dates & Times through February 25
S2A Modular | Webinar: Building Modular Renewable Energy Smart Homes
S2A Modular is conducting a free webinar to teach investors all about modular construction integrated with renewable energy smart home technology. The webinar will break down the differences between the "traditional stick built" method of construction versus the "modular" method.


New York City-to-Philadelphia Greenway Ride

The East Coast Greenway Alliance’s inaugural New York City-to-Philadelphia Greenway Ride travels from one iconic city to another, with lots of beautiful Garden State greenway in between. The 2-day, 130-mile fundraising ride will feature the iconic greenways of the corridor with on-road stretches of suburbs and small towns in between, all while meeting COVID-19 health and safety protocols. There will also be a virtual ride option offered with unique East Coast Greenway digital content and perks (see the FAQ page for more info).

Proceeds from this ride will benefit the nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance to accelerate the development of the route in New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For more information on the ride or volunteering/partnership opportunities email Daniel Paschall at [email protected] 



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When you join as a member, you help us raise the resources we need to keep building and mobilizing our base of supporters again and again, whether it's for safer streets, better transit, or dozens of other local issues in your area, or in city and state elections.



From Philadelphia Business Journal, "Philadelphia-area school districts with the most valuable homes"


OTIS Philadelphia | Feedback on Design for Broad, Germantown, & Erie
The City would like to hear your thoughts on the design for public space and traffic safety at Broad, Germantown & Erie! Learn more and send comments by Feb. 14.

BCGP | User Survey about MLK Drive
Tell the Bicycle Coalition about your experience biking, walking or running on MLK Drive.

Philadelphia Office of Sustainability | Philadelphia Climate Action Playbook Public Survey
The following survey will: Ask you to answer questions about how you are personally responding to climate change. Ask you to review each of the three action-areas and provide your thoughts and feedback on how the City is responding to climate change. The survey should take about 5-10 minutes to complete. Responses will remain anonymous.

DVRPC | Focus Groups (paid)
DVRPC plans to hold three 90-minute focus groups using the Zoom video conferencing platform. These will be planned for sometime between now and March 31, 2021. Focus groups will include between six and twelve participants each and will be recorded to create a transcript of the focus group. Video recordings will be expunged 90 days after recording. Participants will receive a stipend of $50 based on attendance at an assigned focus group.








NACTO | 2021 Transportation Justice Fellowship
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) seeks mobility practitioners who identify as people of color* to take part in a project-based fellowship program for mid-career professionals in the US. (Due 2/1)

PHDC | RFP for Hawthorne 13th Street et Al
PHDC, on behalf of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), is soliciting proposals from developers to acquire and develop 614-26 S. 13th Street (including 1306-10 Kater Street and 1309-13 Bainbridge Street) located in South Philadelphia’s Hawthorne neighborhood for affordable housing. (Due 1/31)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | State Policy Fellowship Program 
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is seeking applicants for the State Policy Fellowship Program to work on budget and public policy issues affecting low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color. (Due 2/19)



Narberth Borough, Montgomery County, PA | Borough Manager

The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, at Temple University | Policy Analyst

Trek Bicycle | Service Technician

Azavea | User Experience Designer, Entry-level Software Engineer, Chief Operating Officer, Business Development Associate

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) | Farm Manager, Community Gardens

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism | Business & Programs Analyst

CHOP | Director, Parking & Transportation

Ensemble Real Estate Investments | Vice President Of Development

City of Philadelphia, The Office of Director of Finance | Participatory Budgeting Project Coordinator

Research for Action | Director of Community Engagement

POWER | Climate Justice Organizer

CeaseFirePA | Digital Campaign Manager

Montgomery County, PA | PlannerDigital Public Affairs Manager 

Fairmount Park Conservancy | Controller

Philadelphia Education Fund | Fundraiser and Donor Relations Manager

The University of Pennsylvania | Senior Associate Director, Penn Transit

HACE | Livability Academy Coordinator

McCormick Taylor | Web Developer

NACTO | Program Manager, Cities for Cycling

The Welcoming Center | Grant Manager (Full Time)

HKA | Independent Consultants - Engineering

AARP | Associate State Director, Advocacy

Looney Ricks Kiss | Project ManagerProject Architect

African American Chamber of Commerce PA, NJ, and DE | Director, Membership and Program Development

City of Philadelphia, The Office of Director of Finance | Participatory Budgeting Project Coordinator

Community Ventures | Project Associate/Manager

Street Plans | Plangineer, Office Manager

PEW | Senior Associate, Home FinancingSenior Officer, Philadelphia Research and Policy Initiative

City of Philadelphia, The Office of Immigrant Affairs | Language Access Program Manager

NKCDC | Director of Finance

WHYY | News Director

PHDC | Application Support Analyst, Development Specialist, Real Estate Director, Housing Development Officer, Housing Rehabilitation Inspector, Senior Counsel, Vice President of Finance

PACDC | Policy Director

Mural Arts Philadelphia | Art Education Administrative Manager, Assistant Teaching Artist, Social Media and Marketing Manager, Director of Communications and Brand Management

The Common Market | Operations Team Leader

The University of Pennsylvania | Senior Research Implementation Lead

DVRPC | Data Specialist

Indego | Lead Expansion Technician, Dispatch Supervisor

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia | Operations Manager, Policy Intern, Development Intern


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