Tarik Khan, running for State Representative, PA-194
I am a born and bred Philadelphian. My mom was educated in the district when she became the first in her family to graduate from college. I too was educated in the district in 2003 when I attended Roxborough Hospital School of Nursing. It was when I was in school that I really fell in love with this district. I am proud to work just a few blocks from the district at Abbotsford Falls Health Center, where I’ve been honored to serve this community as a primary care provider since 2015. I believe this community strongly fits my personality– people are friendly and they value authenticity. Neighbors value hard work and are willing to give a person a shot if they have good intentions, are good at what they do, and if they are willing to hustle and earn their trust. I believe the vaccination program that I started early in 2021 helped to cement the bond I had with the community when I vaccinated several dozen neighbors in the district - and hundreds more across Philadelphia. Patients and their families told me how they felt left behind by the government, especially during COVID. Given the strong connection I have to my neighbors in the district, I will fight for these residents in Harrisburg: to make sure they are respected and are getting the help and support they need. I also want these residents to believe again in the power of the government to help them, and I want to re-engage them in the electoral process.
1 (a). Some of Philadelphia’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists based on injury statistics are PennDOT-owned arterials, many of which are major downtown streets and commercial corridors running through densely-populated parts of Philadelphia. Would you use your position to support safer urban arterials by pushing PennDOT to adopt Vision Zero and complete streets policies? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/philadelphia-traffic-fatalities-penndot-20190208.html)
1b. What types of legislative and policy changes are needed to correct this problem at PennDOT?
When then Mayor-Elect Kenney held his first town hall meeting in 2015, I asked him the first question from the audience and it was about making street crossings safer for pedestrians. As I am running in a district that includes Wissahickon park, and the walkable neighborhoods of Manayunk, Roxborough, East Falls, and Chestnut Hill, I am immensely concerned with the ability of Pennsylvanians to enjoy their environment, whether that be through walking, cycling or otherwise. To truly enjoy our streets, parks, and downtowns, we must be safe while doing so. I absolutely support Vision Zero and similar efforts to improve the safety of our city. Correcting the problems of unsafe streets for pedestrians and bicyclists requires innovative thinking and the status quo is a high rate of pedestrian deaths. I am in favor of policies that increase enforcement of stop signs, pedestrian crossings, and school zone speeds when school is actually in session. Safer streets mean a safer community, and a safer and healthier community should be lawmakers’ top priority.
2 (a). Will you co-sponsor the ‘Vulnerable Road User’ Bill which increases fines for causing death, serious and bodily injury of vulnerable roadway users by careless and reckless driving? (https://bicyclecoalition.org/vulnerable-road-user-bill-introduced-in-pa-state-house/)
2 (b). Parking-protected bike lanes have a row of street parking between vehicle traffic and the bike lane. These kinds of lanes are allowed now on city streets, but not state roads, which are among the busiest and most dangerous for bicyclists. Will you co-sponsor the parking protected bike lane bill? (https://www.inquirer.com/transportation/parking-protected-bike-lane-cycling-philadelphia-pennsylvania-legislation-20190430.html)
3 (a). State lawmakers like Nikil Saval and Brian Sims endorsed the Safer Washington Ave campaign’s demands and played a helpful role in showing support from elected leaders. Will you join these other elected officials in publicly endorsing Safer Washington Ave and future road safety campaigns? (https://whyy.org/articles/city-facing-criticism-says-washington-ave-pivot-was-a-matter-of-equity/)
3 (b). How would you listen and respond to constituents who oppose road safety measures out of fears of traffic congestion and gentrification?
One thing that is clear is that “the most dangerous road in Philadelphia” needs improvement. The plan mentioned would consider the safety of Washington Ave with likely minimal effects on traffic. I support the campaign echo Senator Saval and Rep Sims sentiments. We need elected officials who show up and listen to constituents so that they know their concerns are being heard. I am embedded in my community and I show up, and I understand that listening to residents to understand concerns and educating residents about evidence-based policy efforts are important. The safety and health of my neighbors are at the top of my priority as a policymaker. In the case of Washington Ave, plans that improve the safety of one of the most dangerous roads in the country must go forth.
4. Pennsylvania passed legislation enabling automated speed enforcement on Roosevelt Blvd and highway work zones. Do you support the expansion of automated speed enforcement to School Zones and on other High Injury Network streets throughout Philadelphia? (https://whyy.org/articles/roosevelt-boulevard-speed-cameras-represent-rare-bipartisan-win/)
Yes, with qualification
The installment of automated speed enforcement is important for safety, but community input is essential for any infrastructure or general policy change. Generally, I feel like the rollout of cameras on the Boulevard has been good, but there should be ongoing evaluation of the cameras (including any disproportionate impact of fines on motorists, and periodic reevaluation of appropriate speed limits). Residents must be allowed an accessible forum to voice their concerns and legislators and stakeholders need to listen. Speed cameras should not be a burden to residents who must travel these streets daily, and should not feel predatory (as some parking enforcement in the community does). Fines from cameras should also directly benefit the community.
5. Do you support state-enabling legislation for congestion pricing, permitting municipalities and regions to institute tolls on cars entering into the most congested areas, and using the funds for improvements to transit, and for infrastructure for walking and bicycling? (https://www.inquirer.com/transportation/congestion-pricing-new-york-philadelphia-traffic-20190402.html)
I believe congestion pricing would have negative effects on those that can afford it the least. Especially at a time when work is quickly changing to include more at-home opportunities for certain groups and mandatory in-person work for others. Congestion pricing feels like a regressive tax and I would not support this measure at this time.
6. Transportation is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania. While many elected officials are relying on people adopting electric vehicles, we would like to see the commonwealth play a more active role in reducing car dependence. What do you see as the solution to combat these emissions, enhancing mobility and improving safety in your district and Pennsylvania more broadly?(https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/climate/Pages/GHG-Inventory.aspx)
I support efforts to slow the effects of global warming and transition to electric vehicles when possible. I am a supporter of efforts to expand and improve our current public transportation infrastructure to make it more accessible to our entire community, particularly working-class residents. This includes increasing the number of stops and the frequency of public transportation, as well as implementing policies like free or low fare rides for low-income riders and other populations with hardships
7. Would you support prioritizing the East Coast Greenway multi-use trail system by accelerating the completion of gaps in its network, improving safe walking and biking connections to underserved neighborhoods, and creating a dedicated maintenance funding source to upgrade existing trails in need of repairs? (https://www.greenway.org/faqs)
8 (a). State gas tax revenue has been decreasing due to improvements in fuel economy and a switch to electric vehicles. Of the options in Gov. Wolf's Transportation Revenue Options Commission Report, which recommendations do you support the most? (https://www.penndot.pa.gov/about-us/funding/Pages/Gap.aspx)
Out of these options, I am unsure if I can choose a favorite because in each policy it seems to me that the burden of the costs would be shouldered by those least able to afford them. I would support measures to fund the gap through apportioning a larger portion of the general fund to transportation and increasing the general state fund through policies such as increasing the corporate income tax.
8 (b). Should our commonwealth continue to fund highway expansion projects as a means to combat congestion?
9. What are some of your own ideas for enhancing mobility and improving road safety in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
I would favor more targeted enforcement of vehicles that ignore stop signs and fail to yield to pedestrians. I also favor more crosswalks (including lighted crosswalks) and more offloading areas to avoid delivery and ride-sharing drivers from unsafe double parking, more protected bike lanes. I would also welcome meeting with 5th Square and other transportation stakeholders like the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia to discuss evidence-based ideas to make our roads safer.
10 (a). Do you support the Transit For All PA funding platform to generate $1.65 billion dollars/year to replace Act 89's funding for transit? (https://www.transitforallpa.org/platform/)
10 (b). Do you support legislation enabling local governments to implement new transit funding mechanisms, while ensuring that local funds are supplemental and not used to replace a shortfall from the state? (https://www.transitforallpa.org/platform/)
10 (c). How would you propose raising the necessary funds for Pennsylvania's public transit going forward?
I support efforts to raise funding for the general fund as well as public transit through increasing the corporate income tax and implementing a wealth tax.. It is my opinion that the funding for public transit and infrastructure should not necessarily need to come from the transportation system itself, and not in ways that would push the cost onto the average Pennsylvanian. By ensuring that large corporations pay their fair share for doing business in our Commonwealth we can improve conditions across the board.
11 (a). SEPTA is undergoing several projects to reform the way it currently operates including redesigning its bus network, improving its wayfinding, reimagining regional rail, and modernizing its trolley system. Do you support these efforts? (https://planning.septa.org/projects/)
11 (b). If so, how would your district benefit, and what will you do (or have done) to ensure that SEPTA can advance these changes? If not, how should SEPTA spend its capital budget instead?
More frequent stops would help workers across the city, and in my district as well. Also, more ADA complaint stops would bring some equity to our transportation system, which is too often inaccessible to persons with physical disabilities. In Harrisburg, I will be a strong advocate for policies that improve the quality of public transit and also the quality of life for Philadelphians.
12. Do you support dedicated bus and trolley lanes and legislation enabling automated enforcement cameras to deter other vehicles from using these lanes? (https://mobilitylab.org/2018/09/17/automated-bus-lane-enforcement-is-more-effective-than-police-among-other-findings/)
Yes, with qualification
Yes, I support this, although the public would need to have plenty of advanced warning regarding any potential fines, and accessible and fair venues to dispute violations.
13. What are some of your own ideas for solutions to improve the quality (frequency, speed, and accessibility) of transit service in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
Overall I believe that much of our current infrastructure issues could be improved with better funding. Increased funding could increase the number of stops for public transit, improve the pay and conditions for drivers and workers, and hire more workers to improve frequency. When it comes time to allocate funding, too many of our current legislators simply aren’t fighting for the issues that working people care about. Seeing the lack of urgency among legislators in healthcare and education is what drove me to run, and I look forward to being a tenacious force in Harrisburg, fighting for what’s right. We need legislators that will speak up and show up– two things I do often as an advocate and will as a legislator.
14. The price of a typical home in Philadelphia was increasing at a faster rate than the ability of a typical Philadelphian to pay for it. Do you see a major component of this problem as constrained housing supply due to restrictive zoning laws? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/housing-affordability-philadelphia-covid-20211206.html)
Every single person deserves a place to call home. In the 194th district, our community is being increasingly threatened by unchecked development that places money into the hands of big developers over individuals. This increased development has already begun to push out long-term residents, while also making affordable housing increasingly out of reach for many working-class people.
15. Would you support state-based efforts to preempt local zoning and land use controls to encourage housing development particularly in affluent and transit-rich areas? (https://www.planetizen.com/definition/state-preemption)
I don’t generally favor preemption from the state, such as for gun control, soda tax, or for plastic bags. In communities like Manayunk and Roxborough where residents like myself feel that developers are out of control and the increasing congestion is making life more and more difficult, municipalities should be able to determine which zoning is appropriate, in consultation with residents.
16. If elected, what will you do to make housing, both market-rate and subsidized, more affordable?
If elected, I plan to work to regulate development both in my district and for all Pennsylvanians. This means promoting the investment in both accessible and affordable housing, while also fighting for construction and housing density regulations. I would also support bringing an end to exclusionary zoning practices as well as more expeditiously ending the 10-year tax abatement which has deprived the school district of tens of millions in revenue. I would also fight to increase the protections for renters, who are extremely vulnerable to the high cost of living increases in Philadelphia and beyond, including fighting to establish statewide rent stabilization.
17 (a). An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a self-contained home with its own kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area on the same lot as the main house. They can be used to keep multi-generational families together, to give homeowners the option to rent part of their property, and to give seniors more options for aging in place. Do you see permitting ADU construction as an important element in increasing housing supply? (https://local.aarp.org/news/adus-provide-unique-housing-solution-to-todays-challenges-pa-2021-06-17.html)
17 (b). What efforts will your office take to ensure seniors can age in place?
Housing needs to be more accessible not just for older adults but for everyone. Having a large portion of the housing supply be inaccessible for those with disabilities is a tragedy. We need to work on universal design for housing– building houses that are accessible to all. As state representative, I would support efforts to increase the number of residences with universal design to ensure that our housing system is equitable and accessible to all.
18 (a). Philadelphia is currently experiencing over 1,000 overdose deaths annually, a significant public health crisis. Do you see supervised injection sites as an important element in the battle against addiction deaths? (https://whyy.org/articles/time-for-safehouse-to-ask-forgiveness-not-permission-on-philly-supervised-injection-site-experts-say/)
18 (b). Why or why not?
The overall positive effects of overdose prevention sites are well documented - they decrease the number of deaths from overdose, take drug use out of the open which can be triggering and detrimental to our social fabric, and improve overall public safety in surrounding areas. Installing safe consumption sites in locations where fatal overdoses are common is a potent tool to getting a handle on the opioid epidemic.
19. Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania DEP are moving to participate in a program that would limit harmful carbon pollution from power plants in Pennsylvania. This program is called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and it would have power companies pay for the pollution they generate while setting caps on future pollution. Different interest groups within the Democratic Party have taken different positions on this, with some building trades unions on one side and environmental groups on the other. If elected, would you support joining RGGI? (https://www.inquirer.com/science/pennsylvania-house-rggi-climate-change-gov-wolf-20211216.html)
20. Tell us more about what you bring to the table as an ally for urbanist politics in Harrisburg. What makes you the right person to advance the urbanist movement's goals politically or substantively at the state level? How would you build support for pro-urbanist policies among your colleagues from outside our region?
Growing up in Philadelphia, I have always loved our city and the opportunities that came with living here. As a child, I saw the benefits of public education as a student at Central High School, and have continued my education locally at Roxborough Hospital School of Nursing, La Salle University and now at the University of Pennsylvania. I spent my weekends playing in Fairmount park and riding my bike in Northeast Philadelphia. As a nurse, I have cared for countless patients and heard directly from them the challenges they struggle with daily such as paying their utilities and aging in place, and the treasures they love about our city, including our parks and neighborhoods. As a board member of Young Involved Philadelphia, I led a tour of the Philadelphia Waterfront and was our organization’s representative to our city’s 2016 Olympic bid. As an activist, I fought actively against the closing of Hahnemann and have supported candidates that fought for urbanist causes. As a state representative, I will continue doing what I have done my whole life – showing up for my community, speaking out against injustice, and fighting for equity. My causes include many of the policies that 5th Square supports, including safer roads, more livable communities, increased public transit, more affordable housing, and other efforts to improve the quality of life for Philadelphians.