City Council is slowly taking over the streets of Philadelphia.
On Thursday, Council members passed a dozen bills creating new parking regulations on portions of streets throughout the city, and introduced about a dozen more. Council also passed a bill which effectively gives it the power to decide where bike lanes get built—or, more accurately, where they don’t. All these bills were passed on Council’s “consent agenda,” which allows members to vote on a cluster of bills all at once. The bills passed unanimously.
Two of the parking bills, which ban parking on portions of Roberts Avenue and Fox Street in Hunting Park, were introduced by 4th-District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. Two bills introduced by Councilman Greenlee on behalf of Council President Clarke create regulations on the south side of a portion of Harper Street at 20th, and the north side of Mount Vernon Street, between 12th and 13th.
Five were introduced by 2nd-District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. They establish parking regulations on:
- the south side of Christian Street, between 19th and 20th
- the east side of Colorado Street, between Washington and Carpenter
- the east side of Beulah Street, between Johnson and Oregon
- both sides of Catharine Street, between 22nd and 23rd
- and the west side of 15th Street, between Catharine and Christian.
Three other bills, introduced by 1st-District Councilman Mark Squilla, establish regulations on:
- the west side of Sheridan Street, between Manton and Wharton
- the east side of Sartain Street, between McKean and Mifflin
- and the south side of Emily Street, between 12th and 13th
Only one member of the public protested any of the parking regulations. Robert Taylor, a South Philadelphia resident and familiar face at City Council hearings, said new parking regulations are more onerous than they seem.
“The main thing to remember about these innocuous-sounding regulations is that they can lead to citizens being thrown in prison,” Taylor said.
Council also passed a bill requiring that new bike lanes which require the removal of parking or travel lanes be introduced through resolutions in City Council. A version of the bill, which was introduced by Councilman William Greenlee, originally came up last spring, but was tabled after facing opposition from bicycle advocate groups.
Some of those groups opposed the bill again this time around, but were not able to stop it from passing. They were able to have it amended to add the qualifications that travel or parking lanes need to be affected in order require Council’s approval.
“Bike lanes have been shown to make streets safer for all users,” said Nicholas Mirra, communications coordinator for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, “and bogging that process down hurts all users.”
Still, Mirra said, the bill that passed is an improvement on the original version.
In an informal poll on PlanPhilly’s Eyes on the Street blog last week, readers overwhelmingly voted against putting Council in charge of bike lane plans. Out of 130 total responses to the question, “Should City Council get the final word on bike lanes?” 107 readers voted, “No Way. Council’s involvement politicizes the process and will cause delays that kill bike infrastructure projects. Leave this work to the engineers.”
In other action, Council voted to approve two waste-management contracts with Covanta 4 Recovery, LP, and Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc. despite opposition and requests for delay from environmental groups.
“The process by which the Administration came to these contracts is troubling,” said Brady Russell of Clean Water Action, “and suggests that there are reasons why the Administration did not want a full and appropriate review by the environmentalists on the Administration’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
Russell said that environmental groups weren’t given enough time or information to conduct a review of the agreements, and criticized the Administration for emphasizing garbage incineration and failing to pursue an organic waste composting option.
The waste-disposal agreement bills were not on the consent agenda, but both passed unanimously nonetheless.