Newsletter: Help Elect Urbanist Candidates for City Council next Tuesday!

Next Tuesday May 21st is Primary Election Day! 

This election is a once-every-four-years opportunity to make a major difference for urbanist causes in Philadelphia, with local elected officials having outsized responsibility for whether our built environment, and especially our transportation and housing systems, are accessible for all residents.

5th Square political action committee advocates to improve access to high-quality transit, housing, and public spaces, including our streets, and in this election, we're fortunate to have many candidates on the ballot who not only support urbanist policy goals, but have a proven record of success at making change on issues our advocacy community cares about.

Sign up to volunteer with a candidate's campaign this weekend, and help get out the vote for the pro-transit, pro-bike, pro-housing City Council slate next Tuesday, May 21st:

5th Square Endorses:

Council At-Large
Helen GYM #56

District Council 2nd District
Lauren VIDAS #84

District Council 3rd District
Jamie GAUTHIER #85

Charter Change Question #4
“Public Safety Enforcement Officer” - YES

Phone bank supporters with us this Sunday!

This Sunday, 5th Square volunteers will be meeting at noon to call and text supporters and friends of the organization about the election on Tuesday. We've got thousands of voters to reach, and will have plenty of pizza for attendees! If you've been looking for a chance to be a volunteer in this election, this will be a good opportunity to help make a difference on Tuesday. We'll have scripts so don't worry if you haven't done this before. Bring a friend and come out for however long you're able.

Sunday, May 19th, Noon - 3pm @ Queen Memorial Building Studios -- 1313 S 33rd St.


Wednesday, May 15, 6:45 - 8 pm 
Ride of Silence
An annual bike ride honoring bicyclists killed or injured on city streets. This policeescorted ride starts at the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a short memorial ceremony and travels an 8-mile route through Center City before returning to the Art Museum for a memorial bike lift.

Wednesday & Thursday, May 15 & 16, 6 - 8 pm 
Meet Jamie Gauthier - May 15 & May 16
Come meet Jamie Gauthier, 5th Square endorsed candidate for the 3rd District City Council, and have dinner at their campaign office! Bring a friend, and please RSVP so they can plan accordingly.

Friday, May 17, 7:30 - 11 am 
Bike to Work & Wherever Day 2019
Join the Bicycle Coalition in celebrating National Bike to Work Day by celebrating biking wherever. On Friday morning, the Bicycle Coalition will be hosting Energizer Stations at The Rail Park and Penn Museum. Stop by on your way to work or wherever for snacks, coffee, giveaways, new friends, etc., and join one of their group rides to Center City/Dilworth Park.

Saturday, May 18, 10:30 - 11:30 am 
*** 5th Square Action Tank: Urbanist Family Story Time ***
Come to Lilypad for a family-friendly meet-and-greet. We'll be reading two city-themed books and doing a craft. Free and open to everyone. This event is part of 5th Square's Action Tank series supported by the Emerging Cities Program in partnership with 8 80 Cities and Knight Foundation.

Saturday, May 18, 1 - 3 pm 
Cedar Park Neighbors Transit Committee - Spring Into Biking
Join Cedar Park Neighbors Transit Committee at 50th and Baltimore in West Philly for their first ever Spring into Biking event. Stop by and get your bike freshened up courtesy of Firehouse Bicycles, learn more about cycling in the city, or just chat with friends and neighbor. There will be a group ride to Malcolm X Park and back, weather permitting.

Tuesday, May 21, 7 am - 8 pm 
Find your polling place and vote!


5th Square members voted to support a "Yes" vote for Proposed Charter Change Question #4 in Tuesday's election, establishing the title of "Public Safety Enforcement Officer" to assist the Police Department in regulating the flow of traffic. We do have a few reservations about the ballot measure, however, that we're calling on the City to address in the implementation. Read our endorsement

City Council candidates were asked to weigh in on bike lanes in the Inquirer’s 2019 primary survey, with almost all candidates saying they support more bike lanes. But some of these candidates are incumbents who have wielded some real power over street design for many years, so rather than ask them about it in the abstract, we can just check their records. On our blog, we looked at the tiny number of bike lane miles approved in each Council District over the last 4 years to see who really supports safer street designs.

Several of our endorsed candidates just received the Philadelphia Inquirer's endorsement, including Jamie Gauthier in the 3rd District in West Philly, and Helen Gym and Eryn Santamoor for the At-Large race. Help us mobilize supporters for them by coming to our phone bank this Sunday.


5th Square's endorsed candidates really shined in the public transit section of the 'Broke in Philly' media partnership questionnaire.
We pulled their responses into a blog post for easy reading. Candidates on our endorsed slate are all on the record supporting more bus lanes, free fares for school-age children, free transfers, supporting the bus network redesign, and making school passes universal. Read more about the candidates' transit positions.

In Washington DC, part of a major City Council overhaul of transportation safety policy would let some residents issue parking tickets for illegal parking using their smartphones. People approved for this program would be able to use an app approved by the City to take a photo of the infraction on their phone. Many residents already do this job in Philly, reporting ADA parking violations to the @NotaSpotPhila Twitter account run by Feet First Philly, but the submissions aren't yet recognized by the PPA.
In welcome news for our region, the Atlantic City Rail Line has re-opened after a hiatus since last September, with improved service!  Stay tuned for a post-election 5th Square beach train event this summer.


Last week Council members Darrell Clarke and Brian O'Neill introduced a concerning new bill that would create a Council-controlled Zoning Code Review Commission. The Commission would recommend an omnibus bill of changes to the Zoning Code within 6 months—just enough time for a lame-duck City Council to put its stamp on the next decade of changes to Philadelphia's built environment on their way out the door. We agree the zoning code needs many changes, but in the opposite direction that Clake and O'Neill—who are obsessed with increasing parking and expanding apartment bans—want to take things..

Clarke also introduced a bill to create "Single Family Preservation Districts" that would block the Zoning Board of Adjustment from approving any zoning variances for multi-family housing if the base zoning is single-family in the 5th Council District. That's likely illegal under the city Charter, which makes the ZBA an independent body from Council. And it's also a really bad idea. At a time when the states of California and Oregon, and cities like Minneapolis and Portland, are on the cusp of legalizing multi-unit buildings in all neighborhoods, Clarke's bills could be a major regression from the zoning reforms passed by Council and the Zoning Code Commission in 2012, and are out of step with the national movement to dismantle exclusionary zoning in cities.

Watch this space for opportunities to help advocate for a greener, more sustainable zoning code this summer, and sign up the Philly YIMBY newsletter to receive targeted action alerts about these bills. 


The City's 2019 Registered Community Organization (RCO) registration period will be open from June 1st to June 30th

2019 RCO Training - This free workshop is for members of existing RCOs (Registered Community Organizations) and for groups considering applying as an RCO. The presentation-style format will walk you through the approvals process for any construction project in Philadelphia and the roles of the Planning Commission, Civic Design Review board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) and RCOs. Training sessions will be held on June 6th at 12:30 PM and June 12th at 5:30 PM. 

Mira Fellowship is seeking applications for their Mira Fellows program. "If you’re a proven doer and believe you know where the world should aim next you’re a Mira Fellow. We’re looking for mid-career applicants with a proven track record, an undying need to sink their teeth deep into a specific problem, and the openness to reframe their assumptions to find a new solution." Due 6/1.

In Philadelphia every summer, there are over 500 streets designated as “Play Streets”, which are streets closed off to traffic where neighborhood children can receive a meal and play together. In order to make those Play Streets more playful, Fab Youth Philly ( created the Play Captain Initiative (, which is a summer job for teens. Those teens will create and lead play activities on a number of Play Streets throughout Philadelphia. Due 6/17.


Cohere is seeking an Account Director

Council member Helen Gym is seeking a Legislative Aide

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) is seeking a Policy Fellow

The City of Philadelphia is seeking a Smart City Director: This position will support the Office of Innovation & Technology and be responsible for leading the City’s SmartCityPHL initiative.

The University of Pennsylvania is seeking a Communications & Marketing Manager

5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee. We're an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and more and better public spaces. You’re receiving this email if you signed up via our website, attended one of our events, or supported one of our advocacy campaigns. Support our advocacy with a recurring monthly contribution of $5.