December 14: Modeling vacant and dangerous buildings | Penny-ante preservation | Internet for 80 rec centers

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The city has been taking a new approach and using new technology to determine which vacant properties are most dangerous and demand. The Inquirer explains the new model, developed by L&I and the Office of Information Technology’s GIS team, examining which properties are vacant and dangerous using layers of data, including use of aerial laser technology (LIDAR). It’s a more complex way of focusing and prioritizing city action at properties that are in the worst condition and could pose the largest safety risk. L&I estimates 4,800 vacant homes are unsafe and 230 are imminently dangerous, and the department has a budget of $10 million this year to demolish 500 buildings.

A Daily News editorial sounds as scorched about Toll Brothers’ plan for a tower on Jewelers’ Row as Mayor Jim Kenney does, coming to defense of preservation as a public priority that protects our city’s unique character and makes economic sense. “Yet, we shortchange our assets. Philadelphia is a World Heritage city that has a preservation budget more suited for Topeka, Kansas. We spent $431,000 a year. New Orleans, a city one-quarter our size, spends $885,000 a year. San Antonio, population 1.4 million, spends $1.6 million a year.” The kicker: “We shouldn’t be a World Heritage city with a penny-ante preservation program.”

Technically Philly reports 80 city rec centers are finally getting internet access as part of a new agreement with Comcast for expanded access at city facilities.

Bobby Allyn reports that a ruling in the beverage industry challenge to the city’s soda tax is expected before the new year. The first collection of the new tax is slated for February 20, which will happen regardless of further appeals.

Tomorrow night North Broad Renaissance will release its first State of North Broad report at an event at the Convention Center. North Broad Renaissance’s early goals include greening and cleaning the corridor to create a more attractive place for economic development activity.

What does the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland mean for Philly’s DIY spaces? Cassie Owens uses Girard Hall as a way to look at the importance informal venues and creative spaces in cultivating a diverse cultural ecosystem, as well as the safety, permitting, and inspections that would mean compliance with city code.

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