Your Weekly Dose of Urbanism: Council Punts on Regressive Parking Minimums, 'Should the Law Subsidize Driving?' Event, Momentum for car-free streets from NYC and SF

Weekly Newsletter, Issue 96


Write Your Reps: City Council’s Parking Minimums Bill is an Assault on Affordability and the Climate

There was originally a hearing scheduled today for a bill (160710) first introduced by  Councilmember Jannie Blackwell back in 2016 that would have increased minimum parking requirements

—a last-ditch attempt by the out-going 3rd District Council Rep to cement the car culture of the past into Philadelphia's zoning code.

Then, yesterday afternoon, we got some great news: the bill has been held, and will not receive a hearing Wednesday. And there's only a small window left for Council's parking dead-enders to pass it at all this session. 

This ain't over til it's over, though, so we still need you to call your reps and tell City Council to vote NO on Bill No. 160710, which would increase mandatory off-street parking quotas in residential and commerical buildings—a hidden tax on people who don't drive that subsidizes car owners.

Increasing minimum parking requirements would:

  • Worsen traffic congestion,
  • Make housing more expensive in a way that unfairly costs people who don’t drive,
  • Undermines transit by incentivizing driving as a transportation choice,
  • Kills neighborhood walkability with drive aisles and dead ground floor uses 

Here are some additional arguments against minimum parking requirements.

We've spent the last couple weeks working on a joint letter to City Council alongside a coalition of neighborhood civics, environmental and mobility advocates, and builders calling on Council to vote down the bill, and we're still going to keep working to build this coalition so we can stop this current threat, and then continue working together in the next Council term to eliminate the rest of the parking minimums from the zoning code as cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis recently did.

Read the letter here and share it on social media. If you represent an organization that would like to sign on, please email us back at [email protected].

Save the Date: "Should the Law Subsidize Driving?" Event with Greg Shill on November 21st, presented by DVSGA and 5th Square

On Thursday, November 21st, we're pleased to be co-hosting an event with Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance featuring University of Iowa Greg Shill, author of the forthcoming paper "Should Law Subsidize Driving?"

Read the paper or this shorter magazine article-length version of Dr. Shill's argument in The Atlantic, reviewing all the ways that the law stacks the deck in favor of automotive transportation—and how we can start to unwind this regressive, expensive, and environmentally disastrous system.

The event will be held the morning of November 21st at Obermeyer and there will be light refreshments. 


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Thursday, October 17th, 8 AM - 10 AM
On The Table Philly: Safe Streets, Seven Days a Week
Can We Solve Philadelphia's 'Bicycling During Worship Services Parking' Dilemma in Center City? Join the Bicycle Coalition as they discuss the issue of cars parking in bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets during worship services.

Thursday, October 17th, 5 - 8 PM
The New Park at Penn's Landing: Public Meeting and Open House
Join the City of Philadelphia, PennDOT, and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation as they show the latest design ideas for the new Penn's Landing, a future 12 acre public space that will run from Chestnut Street to Walnut Street, Front Street to the River, connecting the city to its waterfront.

Tuesday, October 29th, 10 AM - 12 PM
Stand Up for Renters: Philly Needs Right to Counsel for Renters!
City Council will hold a hearing on a Right to Counsel bill on October 29th at City Hall at 10am. A renter’s Right to Counsel would mean every low-income tenant facing eviction would have access to an attorney.

Tuesday, October 29th, 6 - 8 PM
October Data Visualization Meetup
The Philly Data Visualization meetup is back and the theme is Creative Coding and expanding the idea of what data visualization can be. The format consists of 2-3 talks on data visualization and all tangentially related subjects (data engineering, tools, presentation techniques, etc.)

Tuesday, October 29th, 6 - 9 PM
Bicycle Coalition: 2019 Gala & Awards Dinner
Join the Bicycle Coalition at their Annual Gala and Awards Dinner as they celebrate agents of change in the region’s cycling community.

Thursday, November 21st, 7:30 AM - 9:30 AM
*** Gregory Shill on how the law subsidizes driving ***
DVSGA and 5th Square are co-hosting a presentation by legal scholar, Professor Gregory Shill of the University of Iowa, about his forthcoming paper "Should Law Subsidize Driving?", a detailed review of how local, state, and federal laws subsidize automobility over other modes of transportation.


5th Square has had an action-packed week this past week, with two back-to-back published opinion articles from members and volunteers!

  • James Gitto writes for WHYY that It's the time to test a car-free Chestnut Street. Following the lead of cities across the globe, including most recently New York City's car-free 14th Street success story, Philly needs to try providing pedestrian-only hours on Chestnut to reclaim this valuable public space from cars for all residents and visitors.

Diana Lind writes for the Philadelphia Citizen that, "fixing public transportation in Philly is crucial if we want the city to thrive." Noting that jobs, housing and economic mobility all rely on good public transportation.

Philadelphia police are getting access to the black boxes behind car crashes in the city. The data will help investigators understand why collisions happen.

Blocked sidewalks are all to common here in Philly... Kudos to one local tipster who busted parking giant E-Z Park stealing this valuable public space for its own profit!

The PPA unveiled new parking Kiosks last week; they use new technology that charges people via license plate instead of those dashboard reciepts.  This can be a game-changer in terms of enforcement and being able to run dynamic pricing that can adjust prices to adequately mirror demand.

The NYT published a poignant editorial that reinforces why organizations like us exist: Cars Are Death Machines. Self-Driving Tech Won’t Change That. 

New York City's efforts to speed up mass transit on one of Manhattan’s busiest crosstown streets was so successful on its first day that bus drivers had to slow down to keep to their schedules. By simply limiting private cars on 14th Street NYC has seen enormous benefits to the commutes and quality of life of thousands daily. Predictions of apocalypse also never came to bear.

Then, just this week San Francisco Supervisors voted to close their Market Street to cars too, building on the great momentum from NYC.

Here in Philadelphia, 2020 is going to be the Year of the Bus too. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements about the forthcoming Transit Coalition that will be organizing in support of SEPTA's bus network redesign next year.


Fitler Square Neighborhood Association is seeking Board Members.

East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association is seeking 2020 Board Members.

Fishtown Neighbors Association is seeking nominations for its 2020 Board.

The Enterprise Center is seeking nominations for their Neighborhood Advisory Subcommittee in West Philadelphia


The Office of Arts, Culture and The Creative Economy (OACCE) Culture in Neighborhoods program transforms Philadelphia’s public indoor spaces into neighborhood hubs of creativity. Proposals will be accepted until January 3, 2020 for events that will take place between August 2019 – February 2020. 



Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is seeking a Recreation Specialty Instruction (RSI) who will serve as a Sustainability Specialist supporting the goals of Zero Waste & Litter, and other sustainable practices. 

The Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers University’s Camden campus invites applications for a full-time tenure track Assistant Professor-Urban Studies and Community Development for the academic year beginning 2020-2021.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is seeking a Senior Associate, Philadelphia Research Initiative

PIDC is seeking a strategic, collaborative, and entrepreneurial professional to join their team in a new role as Research and Project Manager.

Share Food Program is looking for a Volunteer Engagement and Development Manager to help build and sustain strong volunteer partnerships with individuals and groups, and support enhanced development activities.

Greenworks is seeking a Policy and Program Coordinator. Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability (OOS) is responsible for implementing Greenworks: A Vision for a Sustainable Philadelphia, the City’s comprehensive sustainability plan.

The North 5th Street Revitalization Project (N5SRP) is seeking an outgoing, organized, and community-minded individual to join its passionate team as its Broad & Olney Corridor Manager.

Streetsblog USA, the nation’s essential transit-, cycling- and pedestrian-advocacy news site, needs a hard-working reporter to cover the full range of transportation (and transportation-adjacent) issues: urban planning, transportation equity, housing, zoning, design, public space, inequitable law enforcement, climate change, the politics of our nation’s failure to fund transit, and the future of sustainable logistics.

SEPTA is looking for a Program & Fare Policy Analyst and a Project Management Specialist-Signage for their offices in Center City Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) is seeking a FDR Park Executive Director

The Philadelphia Water Department's Public Engagement Team is seeking a Project Coordinator/Outreach Specialist that will manage the Philly Water Bar, an initiative created to bust myths about the quality of tap water in Philadelphia by highlighting the City’s high-quality tap water as sustainable, affordable, safe and healthy.

The Pennsylvania Economy League – Central Division (PEL), is seeking a well-qualified, seasoned professional to serve as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The North Broad Renaissance is seeking an Office Manager

University of Pennsylvania: School of Design: Weitzman School of Design - City and Regional Planning is seeking a Professor of Practice

The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC), a non-profit organization funded primarily by the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is looking for a Housing Development Officer to join it's Community Investment Group, a Senior Development Specialist to join it's Land Management team, and a Public Art Intern.

The City of Philadelphia's Office of the Chief Administrative Officer is seeking Service Designers

Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance is seeking a Co-op Business Developer

Rebuild is seeking a Community Engagement Coordinator

The City of Philadelphia's Department of Commerce is seeking a Digital Communications Manager

Fair Share Housing Center, Inc. (FSHC) seeks a full-time Director of Racial Justice Policy and a full-time Housing Access Organizer

Tiny WPA seeks a strong designer with considerable analog and digital fabrication experience to help grow its participatory design and fabrication capacity.

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