June 7: CDCs want PMC to pay up | Street food vendors cleared from Mifflin Square | E-Z Pass scofflaws

The Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) sent a letter to the Kenney administration calling on them to push PMC Property Group to either provide the reduced-rate units they agreed to at One Water Street, or pay into the Housing Trust Fund to claim their 48-foot height bonus. As PlanPhilly reported yesterday, PMC has the option of submitting a new zoning application cobbling together other waterfront zoning bonuses like public art, ground-floor retail, or other amenities to access the 48-foot bonus another way. They could do this by-right, but it would involve starting the process over, and they would have to spend considerable time taking the project back through the Planning Commission and Civic Design Review. The time cost of delays, with the project so close to completion, appears to be the main source of leverage affordable housing advocates have.

Jake Blumgart investigates why all the Southeast Asian street food vendors were cleared out of Mifflin Square this fall. The area became known as a street food hub over the last 15 years, but after some violent incidents in the neighborhood, police established a regular presence in the park, and cracked down on the illicit vending activity, which they saw as contributing to an atmosphere of lawlessness. Some neighbors and local organizations are trying to bring the vendors back under a more official regime, but it’s not clear whether the extremely low-margin businesses could exist if they had to formalize their operations. 

E-Z Pass fare evaders are costing the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission about $42 million a year, Dana DiFilippo reports. “Pennsylvania’s law has few teeth to clamp down on evaders — but soon might gain strength. State Rep. Kate Harmon, R-Montgomery, introduced a bill in January that would allow transportation officials to suspend the registration of habitual offenders with six or more unpaid toll violations on the turnpike, or fines that top $500 within three years.”

A soda tax vote is likely coming this week and City Council’s phones are ringing off the hook as the ad war morphs into a high-octane political ground game, reports Katie Colaneri. 

Conor Sen makes the case that housing construction is about to eat the American economy over the next several years. “At a current total employment level of 143.9 million people, this means we need an additional 550,000-to-600,000 construction workers. This is a problem because we’re already near record lows for construction unemployment.”

“I’ve long had this fantasy of an assembling a caravan of about 1,000 Philly cars/drivers and then going to park them (legally) in some suburban neighborhood somewhere,” writes Duncan Black, describing the most boring fantasy ever.

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