August 7: Philly’s most exciting parking garage | Cash advance for schools | US DOT wants to give directly to cities

US DOT head Anthony Foxx continued his advocacy for more local control of transportation funds and more bike and pedestrian safety funding at a virtual town hall. The political context is that cities often get a better deal when they get the money directly from the federal government, than when it’s routed through state governments where, as Philadelphia can attest, they’re often at a disadvantage. 

The cigarette tax deal remains unresolved, and won’t be resolved until mid-September at the earliest. Harrisburg Republicans are fronting the money to the Philadelphia School District so schools can open on time, which is giving local officials heartburn in the absence of a political agreement over funding sources.

Former Philadelphian and self-described “super parking nerd” Rachel Yoka swoons over the parking garage at Sansom and Juniper, which turns out to be automated, and parks twice the number of cars for the amount of space as a regular garage. AECOM’s Ian Lockwood made the point during an interview for my Next City article on driverless cars and land use politics that we’re likely to see increased economy of land use in parking design in the future, as parking garage designers become less and less concerned with appealing to human comfort.

Economic development isn’t always, or mostly, about multi-million dollar deals. The Philadelphia Mobile Food Association is partnering with the community organization up in the Lehigh Valley to offer a two-part seminar on mobile food vending, and the Rising Tide loan fund will offer a new special financing program specifically for mobile food vendors. Here in University City, we have a thriving lunchtime economy where dozens of mobile vendors are able to leverage tasty family recipes into successful low-overhead businesses – some of which go on to become traditional restaurants.

Continuing progress on Penn’s Climate Action Plan, as two more buildings receive LEED Gold certification by the US Green Buildings Council – the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology and the Wharton School’s Steinberg-Dietrich Hall West Tower Entrance. “They join Penn’s other LEED-certified projects; the Horticulture Center at the Morris Arboretum, which achieved a LEED Platinum rating, the highest possible, and existing LEED Gold projects including the School of Arts & Sciences’ Music Building, the Weiss Pavilion at Franklin Field, the commercial interior renovation creating Joe’s Café in Wharton School’s Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, the Wharton School’s San Francisco campus and the Law School’s Golkin Hall.”

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