May 23: Uber tax amended to stiff School District | Preserving The Gallery’s inclusivity | Crash not accident

Matt Richtel at the New York Times looks at the increasingly successful campaign by street safety advocates to get state DOTs and journalists to use the word “crash” instead of “accident” to describe automobile collisions. “When traffic deaths spiked in the 1920s, a consortium of auto-industry interests, including insurers, borrowed the word to shift the focus away from the cars themselves…But over time…the word has come to exonerate the driver, too, with “accident” seeming like a lightning strike, beyond anyone’s control.”

A new tax on ride-hailing trips by Uber X and Lyft, pending in the state legislature as a condition of legalizing those services in Philadelphia, was originally going to be split 50-50 between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the School District of Philadelphia, but an amended version of the bill now guarantees much less revenue to the SDP, reports Jared Brey.  

Jake Blumgart’s long-form piece on The Gallery at Next City asks whether black Philadelphia’s downtown mall can stay inclusive and affordable after its $1 billion makeover. 

Alan Heavens wonders why visitors seem to like Philadelphia more than residents do, and Duncan Black says it’s because the city is disproportionately focused on pleasing visitors. “[T]he city expends a lot of effort (and money) to attract visitors, who often just drive in for an event and then drive out, and has let quality of life issues for people who live here go by the wayside. Residents to a great degree aren’t a priority.”

Philly’s growing transit and bike ridership is a real estate story, says Sandy Smith, pointing to evidence of a housing price premium near transit and bike infrastructure. The Philadelphia 2035 plan recommends upzoning the areas around frequent transit stations for more housing development, using the Transit-Oriented Development Overlay districts created in the 2012 zoning overhaul, but so far no City Councilmembers have introduced those overlays. 

Holly Otterbein asks soda bottling magnate Harold Honickman about alternatives to the soda tax that he could support, and he mentions correcting commercial property assessments as one option. The OPA has a plan to reassess commercial properties next year. 

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