April 7: Remembering the Whitman Plaza backlash | Trolley Portal sails through zoning | Market St Memorial

HBO’s Show Me a Hero miniseries is an excellent portrayal of white backlash politics against public housing in 1980’s Yonkers, but it can’t match the drama of the 1971 effort to integrate South Philadelphia’s Whitman neighborhood, as recounted by Jake Blumgart at Shelterforce. “‘The potential for violence to erupt in the Whitman Park area in South Philadelphia if construction resumes on the low-income housing being developed in that area is an almost certain fact,’ wrote police commissioner Joseph O’Neill on June 7, estimating that a detachment of 800 police officers would be needed in the event of a riot. Instead former police commissioner Frank Rizzo got to be the next mayor, Multicon got $3.5 million in damages when he killed the project, and the city got hit with a landmark civil rights lawsuit.”

Nancy Goldenberg, Andy Denison, and Debra Wolf Goldstein–current members to the Philadelphia Commission on Parks and Recreation–make the case that an active and empowered Commission has been key to recent parks success stories, and that the success of Jim Kenney’s ambitious parks initiative will also hinge on a high-capacity volunteer Commission. 

The 40th Street Trolley Portal and Trolley Car Diner zoning variance requests sailed through the ZBA yesterday, Nicole Contosta reports. “Initially, the project received an automatic denial because the location is zoned for single housing. But as attorney Brett Feldman argued, “City planning has recommended the rezoning of this as ICMX, which would be an as of right use.”

Work began yesterday on the memorial park at the site of the 2013 Salvation Army building collapse at 22nd and Market, writes Tom MacDonald. Read Matt Golas’s report from the Art Commission last April for park details and renderings.

Despite the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary stay on the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan while legal challenges are sorted out in the lower courts, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will still continue working to implement the plan, reports Marie Cusick. “Whether the plan lives or dies, [DEP Secretary John Quigley] says the grid is already undergoing major changes. Cheap natural gas is overtaking coal in electric power generation, and the cost of renewable energy is dropping rapidly.”

Don’t confuse lifecycle effects and generational effects when looking at younger workers’ homebuying patterns, says Joe Cortwright. “[I]f there were evidence that in the last few years millennial home buying tendencies were reverting to those of previous generations, it would show up here … but they continue to slope down, indicating that homeownership, far from rebounding to historic patterns, is continuing to become less common among this generation than its predecessors.”

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