January 21: Kenney appoints Tolson to SEPTA board | Missing bike lanes, district by district | Retail boom and dislocation

Mayor Jim Kenney appointed Clarina Tolson, his new Deputy Managing Director for Infrastructure & Transportation, to the SEPTA board, filling the second of Philadelphia’s two allotted seats which had been vacant since Rina Cutler stepped down in April. Philadelphia’s other seat is held by Temple’s Beverly Coleman, who Kenney has nominated for another five-year term. Brian McCrone points out the unfairness of allotting Philly only two board seats. “Advocates for city transit often cite SEPTA ridership and revenue in calling for more representation on the board. In SEPTA’s monthly ridership report for December, there were 648,000 average daily passengers on City Transit, compared to 60,000 on Suburban Transit, and 128,000 on Regional Rail. City Transit accounted for $22.9 million in revenue in December while Suburban Transit brought in $2.3 million and Regional Rail brought in $11.9 million, according to the report.”

Center City’s retail resurgence, especially on Chestnut Street, has undoubtedly been good news on the whole for Philadelphia, but Jacob Adelman reminds us that growth also comes with sad stories of dislocation. I. Goldberg Army & Navy’s landlord at 1300 Chestnut Street hiked their rents, forcing them to relocate. In a well-liked Facebook post, Philly AIDS Thrift commented on the news, recalling their own experience of being priced out of multiple locations, and admonishing Center City landlords to appreciate good long-term tenants. They also make a solid point that the South Street east area might be a more fertile market for selling Carhart jackets to the grungers.

Ronda Kaysen at the New York Times looks at all the housing being built in University City that’s not marketed to students, along with the tactics developers and neighbors use to ensure undergrads don’t move in. “Developers use various strategies to keep undergraduates away from these new projects, including high rents that most students can’t afford. They time leasing to miss the start of the academic year, reject applicants who will rely on a guarantor to pay the rent and design spaces that are not ideal for young students.”

Ever since City Council inserted themselves into the approval process for new bike lanes back in 2012, in situations where a travel lane or a parking lane would be replaced, the rate of new bike lane creation has slowed to a crawl. To speed up the process, the Bicycle Coalition created a nifty new advocacy tool that shows neighbors which bike lanes planned for in the 2012 Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan are languishing in their areas.

The former Grace of God Church of Deliverance on the 2100 block of E. Firth Street is being demolished to make way for new housing developments in East Kensington, reports Max Pulcini.

The $1.7 billion Mon-Fayette Expressway extension out in metro Pittsburgh made U.S. PIRG’s list of the top 12 worst highway boondoggles in America. Legitimate social and environmental concerns kept the highway from connecting to downtown Pittsburgh, they write, but this means the project now lacks a raison d’être, since it won’t result in sufficiently noticeable service improvements. 

New Jersey municipalities, notably Moorestown Township, are facing off with state Supreme Court over how many affordable housing units their local zoning codes must accommodate to be in compliance with their Mount Laurel obligations. Brandishing a report from Philly’s Econsult Solutions, Moorestown says they only need to accommodate 171 affordable units, while a court-appointed master has put the number at 1,313.

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