Get ready for a good old-fashioned business vs. business political scrap. Paul Nussbaum reports that some (unnamed) lawmakers and Parking Authority officials want to carve Philadelphia out of the state bill legalizing “transportation network companies” (TNCs) like Uber X, Lyft, and Sidecar, which allow regular people to rent seats in their cars to strangers via an app. Rep. Brian Sims wants to see Philadelphia included in the bill, but there is an alternative bill being pushed by the PPA and incumbent taxi fleet owners that would nullify the law’s provisions here: “Options and variety and competition are key,” Sims said. “It lets me decide what kind of car I want to get in. If we do see that Philadelphia is carved out, it would be a sad statement about the power structures of Philadelphia.”
If the fight over TNCs gets kicked into next year, and the Governor’s office changes hands as has been widely predicted, Governor Tom Wolf’s choice of appointees to the five-member Public Utility Commission will become an interesting political battlefield. Candidate Tom Wolf supported Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s position vs. the PUC during the Democratic primary, so it seems likely he will put forward TNC proponents for the nomination. Lt. Governor Jim Cawley is currently one of the commissioners, and if his reelection bid is unsuccessful, a Governor Wolf would have his choice of three appointees next year, as the members serve staggered terms.
Mark Headd, the city’s former Chief Data Officer and the closest thing Philly has to a civic tech celebrity, is leaving Philadelphia to be closer to his family in Syracuse. He’s not giving up his Indy Hall membership though, and expects to be back often as he believes “Philly is to civic technology what Nashville is to country music.”
If that’s true, perhaps Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook should pay a visit to Philadelphia to research ideas for his new start-up focusing on civic engagement and state and local elections: “Many elections are decided by very small margins. Mobilizing 100 or 200 people to do something is exactly the thing that those networks are good at doing.”
With the Spring Garden St. pop-up greenway in the news, it was only a matter of time before we got the Hidden City history of Spring Garden Street. Harry Kyriakodis reminds us that Spring Garden St. was not always a stroad: “In the 20th century, Spring Garden Street’s medians were turned over to motor traffic. Front gardens were paved over and fences, trees and market stalls were taken down. As the boulevard became a noisy urban arterial road, wealthy residents moved.”
L (-) I ? Councilman Curtis Jones, chair of the special Council committee charged with looking into demolition practices in the wake of last summer’s building collapse at 21st and Market, isn’t sure whether he supports the draft report’s call to separate L&I’s safety responsibilities from its licensing responsibilities.
Young developer and Next City Vanguard alum Lindsey Scannapieco’s firm Scout, LLC won the bid to redevelop the Edward W. Bok school building at 9th and Mifflin in South Philadelphia as Philly’s largest creative community space. “Scannapieco is drawing inspiration from the NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam — an enormous hangar with constant creative activity — as well as Bootstrap Company and the White Building , both located in London. Like those projects, the Bok building will be one where people can live, work and create under one roof.”