January 27: Philly rental vacancies at 2.8% | Creative engagement in Germantown | New Councilmembers taking city cars

Alan Heavens reports city apartment vacancy rates fell from 5.7 percent in December 2014 to 2.8 percent in December 2015, despite all the new apartment construction, according to data from Delta Associates. That’s higher than the 1.6 percent rate we reported over the summer, but still extremely low in the grand scheme of things. 

That low vacancy rate is why apartment construction isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Around Market East, new construction is on pace to more than double the housing stock, reports Jacob Adelman, in a piece on Brickstone’s latest apartment project replacing the parking garage on 12th and Sansom. 

SEPTA’s Erik Johanson talks with Dave Heller on NewsWorks Tonight about the agency’s new public-private partnerships, which build on their 2012 pilot program harvesting energy from braking trains

Germantown United CDC and Just Act won a $25,000 grant to facilitate more meaningful community engagement in Germantown, Alaina Mabaso reports. They’ll build “an ensemble of trained facilitators both in the applied theater techniques and then facilitating the dialogue around issues that a lot of people don’t talk about.”

The latest 99% Invisible is devoted to the concept of desire paths and mentions my post on E. Passyunk Avenue “sneckdowns” from two years ago. This snowfall didn’t quite yield the bumper crop of snowy neckdowns we were hoping for, but we’ll take a look at some reader-submitted ones this week.

Most new City Councilmembers will  take advantage of the city cars offered to them as part of the job. Allan Domb isn’t taking a salary and is also declining a car. Helen Gym signaled a willingness to part with hers, should that come up, but Mayor Kenney isn’t pushing the issue. 

The 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors, which polls 89 Mayors from a wide variety of U.S. cities, found 70% said they would support converting parking and passing lanes into bike lanes, in a generalized trade-off, reflecting a growing recognition that taking street safety to the next level will require some redistribution of space away from motor vehicles.  

New Jersey Governor and Presidential candidate Chris Christie is calling for a state takeover of Atlantic City, Wayne Parry reports, citing the city’s intractable financial woes, and calling on the state legislature to approve legislation by the end of February. The state would gain the power to restructure “municipal debt, the right to cancel collective bargaining agreements, and the ability to sell off city assets and land.”

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