January 4: The 99th Mayor | Leadership change at the Water Department | Tree house ruled accessory dwelling

Jim Kenney will be sworn in as Philadelphia’s 99th Mayor this morning. Mark Fazlollah has the run-down of Kenney’s schedule on his first day as Mayor.

Over the holiday week, Kenney appointed Debra McCarty as Commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department, replacing Howard Neukrug. During the Nutter years, Neukrug became something of an international celebrity in the world of sustainable infrastructure for Philadelphia’s investments in green stormwater infrastructure. During the fall, some advocates and staff were rumored to be lobbying against a potential McCarty appointment, concerned she was insufficiently committed to continuing the Department’s green infrastructure work. Everyone has since put on a happy face now that the appointment is confirmed, but PWD will nonetheless be an important department to watch in the new administration. 

Kenney also appointed Charles Brennan as Chief Technology Officer, and kept Tim Wisniewski on as Chief Data Officer, to the delight of Philly’s open data community.

Inga Saffron interviews Anne Fadullon and parses her record at the BIA for clues on how she’ll approach questions of growth, design, and affordability leading the new Department of Planning and Development, which the voters approved in November. Saffron says the former BIA President is “convinced the city can have it both ways: growth and good design.” Read Jared Brey’s piece for more background on Fadullon.*

Jacob Adelman has renderings of the Hyde hotel proposed for Broad and Pine, and an explanation of SBE Entertainment Group’s counterintuitive strategy of building a second hotel down the street from their new SLS International hotel, currently under construction. “SBE is doubling down on Philadelphia at a time when the number of visitors has reached new highs. Visit Philadelphia, the local tourism-promotion agency, reported Dec. 22 that Center City hotel occupancy in 2015 was projected to hit a record 77.4 percent.”

Jason Laughlin looks at how SEPTA Key will work for seniors. Seniors will still be able to scan their driver’s licenses to board, but there’ll be some advantages to using a smart card too.
 
Pittsburgh City Council is preparing to take up a bill divesting city pension funds from fossil fuel industries, Robert Zullo reports. Once the city identifies the public fund’s holdings in the top 100 oil and gas and top 100 coal companies, pension managers “shall take divestment actions to sell, redeem, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the aforementioned fossil-fuel companies as quickly and prudently as practicable within five years from the effective date of this ordinance.”

In other western PA news, Leet Township zoning officials deemed a girl’s treehouse an illegal accessory dwelling and made her family dismantle it. 

Full disclosure: Anne Fadullon currently serves on PlanPhilly’s advisory board, which met once in October 2015.

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