Wish you could show up to your neighborhood civic association meeting and get people to listen to you the way they do to that know-it-all from down the block? Well, there may not be an app for that, but there is the Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute, run by Philadelphia City Planning Commission. The bi-annual course aims to educate residents on how to effectively make their voice heard in the zoning and development processes shaping their communities, and on Tuesday evening the latest class will graduate. Since 2010, 450 Philadelphans—lifelong residents and new transplants alike—representing 158 neighborhoods have gone through CPI. Seven years in, the program hit a few firsts in 2017, including graduating its first high schooler. And what happens after graduation? One graduate, Kyle Shenandoah, helped form a civic group in his Grays Ferry neighborhood. If you want in on this very Philly club, CPI accepts applications twice a year for their spring and fall cohorts. The program costs $100 to125 and the city offers a $50 scholarship to all who request it.
Empty nesters are downsizing in the city and then going “bigger after four to five years,” according to Curbed Philly. With the luxury market going hard after boomers, developers are getting creative with floor plans so that buyers can flex their space until it’s just right. 500 Walnut developer Tom Scannapieco believes that the “right-sizing” trend will continue to meet the demands of buyers who “don’t want to compromise space or luxury for city living.”
Philadelphia’s street poles are in the news again, and not because of Eagles fans. The city has amped up its campaign against bandit signs has gotten concert promoters worried about business, PMN’s Cassie Owens reports. As part of the city’s Zero Waste and anti-litter initiative, officials will work to crack down on offenders, fining $300 for the first sign, and up to $2,000 a sign for the second offense. Promoters have expressed concern that the “terrifying” heavy enforcement could mean fewer concertgoers, a decrease in overall events, and damage to small events that don’t earn enough in ticket sales to cover the fines. For context, Owens writes that last year “55 tickets issued in Philadelphia for illegal signs…for a total of $4,410 in fines. So far, only 22 of the tickets have been paid.”
One man’s savesies is another man’s pet peeve. City Lab looks at the psychology behind parking wars, exploring the code of conduct that governs the traffic cones and lawn chairs that neighbors use to mark public street space as their own. “It’s pretty clearly territorial behavior, which we see in non-human animals,” Dr. Leah Kamin tells City Lab. “It’s coming from a more primal part of the brain that’s not associated with executive functioning—things like planning and decision-making.” One Boston resident considers space-saving “one front in a larger struggle against neighborhood change” and “a way for the ‘old guard’ to hold onto to some sort of neighborhood feel in the midst of all this gentrification.” he says. In Philadelphia, a similar point of contention between ‘old’ and ‘new’ residents happens over median parking on South Broad. Savesies, by the way, are very much illegal, which PPD reminded Philadelphians with this amusing and informative video.
South Philly’s Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, StateImpact PA’s Susan Phillips reports. While the massive West Passyunk crude oil refinery has come under pressure from nearby residents who live in the cloud of its pollution-emitting smokestacks and want to see it clean up or get out the neighborhood, the company says the filing won’t change anything on the ground. A spokesman told StateImpact that the move represents nothing more than a “restructuring its debt” that “will help ensure a supply of gasoline for the region and have no impact on its employees or customers.”